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NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview


By Rob Trahan(12,495) Rob Trahan

Posted Monday, December 31, 2007
View All Blog Posts submitted by Rob Trahan


As the clock hit all 0s Sunday night on the Titans-Colts game, the playoff picture came into focus. With their win, the Titans secured the final open playoff spot and the Browns fell victim to Tony Dungy doing what was best for his team.

Wild Card weekend is next and there are a few intriguing matchups. Here's what you can look forward to this Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday
Washington at Seattle (4:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

Washington comes into the playoffs as the hottest team in the NFC. The secured the final Wild Card spot on the last day of the season with a convincing win over the Cowboys. they are playing the year in memory of their fallen teammate, Sean Taylor, who was killed in a home invasion earlier in the season.

Seattle quietly went about its work this season and, once again, won the NFC West. Their running game isn't what it used to be as Shaun Alexander is starting to show his age, but Head Coach Mike Holmgren has committed his team to be more wide open and they have been catching some teams by surprise.

Washington is the sentimental pick, but they are playing with a journeyman quarterback and a coach who has looked like the game has passed him by at times. Holmgren and the Seahawks still have the taste of their last Super Bowl win in their mouths and will do what it takes to make it out of the first round. Seahawks by 7.

Jacksonville and Pittsburgh (8 p.m. ET on NBC)

One of the biggest shockers of the year was Jacksonville's win at Pittsburgh. They won by running the ball against a team who has one of the best run defenses in the league. And they did it in the Steelers' house. That's got to still sting Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Jacksonville comes into Saturday's game healthy, having rested most of their starters in the regular season finale versus the Texans.

The Steelers, on the other hand, enter Wild Card weekend without running back Willie Parker, the biggest key to their offense. Without much of a running game, the onus of the scoring falls on the broad shoulders of Roethlisberger, who has shown in the past that he can handle the pressure of the NFL playoffs.

Jacksonville went to Heinz Field once this season and defeated Pittsburgh, it stands to reason they can do it again. Pittsburgh is going to play angry as they avenge that earlier loss. I think the loss of Parker is going to be too much and the tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew will combine to run all over the Steelers defense, just like last time. Jaguars by 9.

Sunday
New York Giants at Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET on Fox)

The Giants ended the regular season by almost upsetting the undefeated New England Patriots. Eli Manning showed that when he stopz thinking and starts playing, he can be the quarterback Tom Coughlin and the Giants need him to be. On defense, they have the most sacks in the league, getting to quarterback Jeff Garcia won't be a problem. But they still only beat one team with a winning record this season.

Tampa Bay is another team without their starting running back as Cadillac Williams is out for the year. But Earnest Graham has filled in admirably. Jeff Garcia has staved off old age once again to lead the Bucs to the playoffs. John Gruden's defense has played as expected.

Truthfully, this game won't matter in the big scheme of the playoffs, neither team has much of a chance to make it out of the next round. Giants by 3.

Tennessee at San Diego (4:30 ET on CBS)

The Titans go to San Diego banged up. Quarterback Vince Young left Sunday night's must win game against the Colts with a thigh injury. Albert Haynesworth is also nursing a leg injury. If Young can go, they'll need his legs as well as his arm. Most of all, they'll need him to live up to his big game reputation. The Titans defense is stout and they'll need to bring their A game to slow down LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner.

Norv Turner is on the hot seat. He's probably not going to get fired, but he replaced Marty Schottenheimer because Marty couldn't win in the playoffs. Norv and quarterback Philip Rivers have the most to prove. Turner has a reputation as a good play caller, but his team stumbled out of the blocks. Can he get his team ready to play a physical game? Rivers has been shaky this season. He doesn't have to do much because of the backs that will line up behind him, but he can't make mistakes.

Expect the most physical game of Wild Card weekend to be its last game. Both defenses like to hit hard and hit often. Both offenses are run oriented. If Vince Young can play at 100% or close to it, the Titans have a chance. But the Chargers running backs may be too much to handle. Chargers by 7.

Dallas, Green Bay, New England and Indianapolis vs BYE
The bye week will help the Colts the most as they have players that are banged up and could use the extra week to heal, but none of the top four teams should have any trouble getting out of the next round. Expect the Conference Championship games to be Cowboys/Packers and Pats/Colts. Would we want anything else?



This Blog Post has been read 390 times.
Posted to ProBlogs.com on Monday, December 31, 2007
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