Saturday, January 10, 2009

Playoff Predictions

It's pickin' time again. The challenge, at least for this first time: you have to pick an NFL playoff game. Sorry all you Premier League-lovin', Colorado girls' HS ice hockey-rootin', Albright wrestling-supportin' fans. It's NFL playoff time--time to separate the men from the men who drive gray Honda Civics and know the words to "How Deep Is Your Love." — John

Playoff time!

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans – A surging shut down Baltimore defense meets a Tennessee team that has been stuttering/coasting through the month of December. It should be interesting to see whether Tennessee has the ability to throw it back into gear – and what gear will it be? Although Tennessee was able to beat the Ravens in Baltimore earlier in the season, I am going to have to go with the Baltimore Ravens this round, as defense wins playoff games, and Baltimore has exhibited its share in the month of December into early January.

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers – San Diego had to come from behind in their wildcard playoff game at home against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend. The steamrolling Colts were certainly on a roll having won 9 games straight prior to losing to San Diego. This was quite a test for the Chargers coming into the playoffs with a less than stellar 8-8 record. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers are no pushovers. They know how to win in the playoffs, and should not have any problem disposing of the visiting Chargers to advance to the AFC championship game.

Arizona at Carolina - Once considered a sleeper pick for the playoffs, Carolina looks very strong. Certainly a contender for a Super Bowl appearance. Arizona did not finish as strongly as they had started this season. However, they were able to advance last week at home against the Atlanta Falcons. I am going to have to go with Carolina Panthers in this game. Their performance will be an indicator for whether they will make it to the final dance.

Philadelphia at New York – The New York Giants haven’t looked as dominant in December as one would expect for a Super Bowl repeat attempt. However, they were going through a run of injuries, and have now had the opportunity to rest some key players during the playoff bye, including Brandon Jacobs, a key ingredient to the Giants running game. Add that to Brian Westbrook not able to practice this week but expected to play, and the porous Eagles run defense, and this starts to turn into a fowl meal for a giant.

But wait!! How can you pick against a Philadelphia Eagles team that needed every star in the sky to line up perfectly for them to make the playoffs? Burdened with a tie (kissing the sister)? Needing Tampa Bay to lose to Oakland (never happen!)? …and Chicago lose to Houston (possible, but asking too much)? And then pull off a dominating win over the archrival Dallas Cowboys? A great finale for a team that was not able to control its own destiny, but had it controlled by the football gods. It wasn’t until 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 28, 2008, one of the last games played in the NFL regular season, when the Eagles found out that if they won, they were in. Keep the beards growing – sorry, can’t pick against the Philadelphia Eagles. — Troy V. of Yardley

Well, thanks to having a lot of unexpected free time in a hotel room due to wildfire evacuations, I actually had time to read all of that. And Brian, being a gov’t employee on lunch break, had 2 hours to write it. (Brian, are you sure you’re not the sports writer amongst us?)

Me, being a Math/Econ major and a big fan of “say it in 3 sentences or don’t say it at all,” projects…

Tennessee over Baltimore; Pittsburgh over SD; Arizona over Carolina (upset alert); Giants over Eagles — Kurt

I will take these games in the order that they are being played. Interesting that for the first time ever each game matches teams who have already played against one another this year.

4:30 Saturday: Tennessee at home against Baltimore. First team to score may win. Turnovers will decide this game. I am going with Tennessee at home to win a low scoring game. I will go 13-10, which is the same result as earlier this year.

8:00 Saturday: Carolina at home against Arizona. Arizona has gotten waxed every time they have flown East this year. Lost at Washington 24-17, at Jets 56-35, at Carolina 27-23, at Phila 48-20, at Patriots 47-7. That’s 202-102 for an average loss of 20 pts a game.

HOWEVER, everyone is falling in love with Carolina despite the fact that they have a below avg quarterback who turns the ball over. I think Carolina will win but it will be much closer than people expect. Take Arizona and the 10 points.

Now to Sunday and a BIG day for the state of Pennsylvania.

1:00 Sunday: Giants at home to the Eagles. Game time temp 29 degrees. Game will be decided by a field goal but am concerned that David Akers’ career in Giant stadium is only 10 makes in 20 attempts. Eagles’ defense has been awesome. I am going with the Eagles in a low-scoring game if McNabb doesn't have any stupid turnovers which is a big IF.

4:30 Sunday: Steelers at home to the Chargers. I have to say I was surprised, and a little puzzled, when I heard that Ladanian Tomlinson has a torn tendon in his groin and Phil (a BIG STEELERS FAN) is in San Diego this week.

Anyway on to the game and I believe the Chargers come to Pittsburgh and win the game. This is my upset special.

Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a concussion and he can't even fit into his helmet because his head is still swollen. HUH? Earlier game between these teams was won by Pittsburgh 11-10 but I think the Chargers turn the table and win by a touchdown. Let’s say 20-13.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the games. — Dave

I'll go by conferences:
AFC: Two nail-biters. Baltimore is THE hot team in the playoffs. Defense wins. Prediction: Baltimore.

San Diego is playing with house money after their upset over the Colts. Big pressure for Pittsburgh. Prediction: Chargers.

NFC: Arizona is playing with house money. They'll be loose and giddy at the coin flip. They'll still be loose and giddy when John Fox pulls his starters at the start of the fourth quarter so they can rest up for next week. Prediction: Carolina.

No one's loose and giddy in the Philly/New York match-up. But Philly's receivers will not drop passes like they did in D.C. a few weeks ago. Prediction: Philly, in a nail-biter. — Carnac the Magnificent

You guys come through with the big research and the compelling angles to your picks! I actually only expected you to make ONE playoff pick, not each game. Way to step it up come playoff time!

Me? I’m resting the starters (my brain) for bigger games next week. So I’ll make picks for the two Pennsylvania games.

The Steelers move on; the Eagles move out. But I’ll make one exception to my Eagles pick: if Andy Reid realizes he has a unique talent in DeSean Jackson and throws plays his way, the Eagles could steal it. So the Eagles will lose unless Jackson has 150 combined yards (rushing/receiving/kicks). If he hits that number, the Eagles win. — John

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