A few years ago, ESPN2's columnist Bill Simmons said his dream was to go 8-0 predicting the NFL playoffs. That year I tried, I really bombed. My playoff predictions may not have improved sincel then, but now that I'm on a blog, I can broadcast my shitty predictions across the internet.
I was going to write this blog Wednesday night, but instead, I fell asleep on the couch watching the Sugar Bowl. Luckily, I fell asleep while the game was still good and slept through live coverage of Brady Quinn's draft stock dropping. So, I'll do it now and start with the AFC.
AFC Wild Card Round
Kansas City vs. Indianapolis: Indianapolis
Watching Indy in the playoffs is great. You know they're going to blow it one way or another, and you're on the edge of your seat wondering how. Is Peyton Manning going to get manhandled or is the kicker going to blow it at the last second? Unfortunately, we won't get to see that this game. Kansas City will not beat the Colts in Indy. Larry Johnson vs. Indy's horrible run defense should be interesting for a little bit, but that'll sour soon enough.
While on the subject, how did Peyton Manning get two votes for MVP? I'm sick of him being in consideration all the time even though there are many other players who deserved it more. That's the Manning name for you. It's the same reason Eli isn't out in New York yet.
Jets vs. New England: New England
If the Jets were playing Indy first round, I would take the Jets. However, I cannot imagine Bill Belichick allowing former assistant Eric Mangini to beat him in Foxborough twice. The loss of Rodney Harrison will give the Jets offense a shot, but the Jets will not be able to pull it off again. I want to see the Jets win, and I'll be rooting for them, but I just see Tom Brady and Laurence Maroney having great games.
AFC Divisional Round
Indianapolis vs. Baltimore: Baltimore
This is the end of the line for the Colts, but they won't go without a fight. Since Baltimore's running game is nothing spectacular, Indy should be able to limit Baltimore's offense. However, Baltimore's defense will hound Manning all day, and we could see some turnovers returned for touchdowns. Indy's collapse won't be as exciting as it has in the past, but their season ends here. Baltimore will advance.
New England vs. San Diego
New England's luck will run out as they'll be facing a manacing defense. Just the thought of Shawne Merriman gives me goose bumps. LT will wear out the Patriot defense, although he won't need to as the San Diego defense will keep Tom Brady and Laurence Maroney limited. The Chargers will move on with ease.
AFC Championship Game
Baltimore vs. San Diego: San Diego
We already saw this game early on in the season and it came down to a last-minute Steve McNair drive that beat San Diego. However, I believe San Diego has improved since then and expect their offense to have a better game against the Ravens. They won't move the ball too easily against Baltimore, but when the Ravens aren't paying attention, Tomlinson will show them why he's MVP. This game will be low scoring once again; however, this time the Chargers will be on top.
NFC Wild Card Round
Dallas vs. Seattle: Dallas
After the humiliation that Dallas faced against the Lions, they'll come out in full force. Seattle is a good team that lost a lot of momentum this year with crucial injuries, including ones to Matt Hasselback and Shaun Alexander. This will be a close game, but in the end, Tony Romo will wow people like he did in the middle of the season. The Dallas defense will right itself and keep a potentially explosive Shaun Alexander in check while on the other side Marion Barber will have a game that makes people wonder why Julius Jones is the starter.
Giants vs. Philadelphia: Philadelphia
The Eagles will win this one. Now, the Giants are going to come out strong and have a 14-0 or a 14-3 lead by halftime, and Giants fans will be giving everyone else the "I told you so" attitude. But don't you worry. Even though it'll be 21-6 early in the 3rd quarter, never underestimate a Giants late-game collapse. As Philly and Jeff Garcia start to mount a comeback, they'll feed off the Philly crowd to close it within 10 before the fourth quarter. And then those Eli Manning interceptions will cost them the Giants the game as Philly finishes off the comeback in the fourth.
NFC Division Round
Philadelphia vs. New Orleans: New Orleans
We'll see a repeat of earlier this season when these two teams met. The Saints are just too good to lose at home during the playoffs. Their defense is good, which people still don't believe, and their offense is just awesome. Drew Brees is the best quarterback in the league this year, and he makes his money off the long ball. Watch guys like Marques Colston and Devery Henderson beat the corners for some easy long touchdowns. And not just in this game but throughout the playoffs.
Dallas vs. Chicago: Dallas
I think it's time people learn that Rex Grossman's bad part of the year was the true Rex. Dallas will be pumped when they enter Soldier Field, and they will use that energy to take an early lead. They'll take advantage of Grossman's shoddy play and surprisingly enough, Marion Barber and Julius Jones will get some decent chunks of yardage against the feared Bears defense -- big guys such as the Rams Stephen Jackson have had some success against this Bears defense. This will be no blowout. In fact, this may be a back and forth game. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Tony Romo mount a Brady-like last-minute comeback to win this game.
NFC Championship Game
Dallas vs. New Orleans: New Orleans
Here's the truth. The Saints are the best team in the NFC. Scoff if you must, but this isn't Tom4, the Saints fan, saying it. I have no allegiance to the Saints. I like them, and I'm rooting for them, but I'm stating a fact when I say they are the best team in the NFC. They have a good running game with McAllister up the middle and Reggie running some sweeps and receiving out of the backfield. Drew Brees is the best and he's a veteran. Romo, although often composed, is not. I can't believe the Dallas defense can hold all of the Saints' offensive weapons, where the Saints defense will be able to rattle Romo. Here's the headline: "Saints March to the Super Bowl." How clever. I'd say the same if they had to go on the road to play the Bears too.
New Orleans vs. San Diego: New Orleans
What a story this will be. Drew Brees meets the team that cut him loose in the offseason. Drew Brees wasn't really bad in San Diego, contrary to what some bitter Charger fans may say. Philip Rivers, Brees' replacement, got a Pro Bowl bid, but I don't think he would have if it weren't for defenses focusing on Tomlinson. He's had some good games, but he's had some subpar ones as well.
Drew Brees has been protected well all year, and I'd expect the same in the Super Bowl. With Brees protected, the Saints will score their points. The Chargers will score some with LT, but Phil Rivers will not play his best game in the Super Bowl when the Saints are able to slow down Tomlinston. Although the smart pick would be the Chargers, I believe emotion will play a big factor in this game -- New Orleans in the Super Bowl after Katrina and Drew Brees against his former team -- and the Saints will win the Super Bowl in a close game.