Now that the NFL has had their Wild Card Weekend, here's hoping that the rest of the playoffs can be more interesting.
Yes, I know three of the four home teams lost, with the defending champion Patriots being the only team to win at home, but upon further review, was there any huge surprises?
In the first game on Saturday, the Redskins dumped the Bucs in a game that was closer than it should have been. The Redskins offence had about as much punch as Kate Moss in a buffet lineup. Had the Redskins offence had even shown up, the game would have been over before halftime. The Redskins are on a roll right now because of their defence. There defence was hardly tested as the overrated Chris Simms couldn't muster any of his dad's magic and was hardly a threat.
The night game was equally as captivating, with the New England Patriots taking out the Jacksonville Jaguars in unspectacular fashion. The Patriots are relying this year on the age old 'We don't get no respect' rally cry. They beat up on possibly the most overrated 12-4 team in NFL history. Jacksonville's last eight wins came over Houston twice, Baltimore, Tennessee twice, Arizona, Cleveland, and San Francisco. In order for the Pats to earn my respect, beat Denver then beat Indy.
I then roll out of bed Sunday for the classic Giants-Panthers showdown. Speaking of overrated, if they were the Albany Giants would this team get the press? Eli Manning isn't his brother yet, Jeremy Shockey runs his routes like he's been coached by Ray Charles, and the defence is old and slow. Barber is the only legit player on this squad and the Panthers figured that out in the film room. Carolina served notice that they are the dark horse in this year's playoffs.
We then reach to the finale of the Wild Card Weekend, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Cincinnati with it's first sniff of the playoffs since Ickey Woods. Cincinnati gets their ticket punched two plays in on a harmless play. With all of the hype over Chad Johnson this year, where was he Sunday? Pittsburgh can beat you in so many ways and with Cincinnati, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the Cincinnati defence with precision, then razzle dazzle. Pittsburgh will need all their tricks this week against Indy if they are to stand any chance.
Sadly, I think that this week will be another one of those weeks where you could pick the winners in your sleep, with one exception.
Seattle will handle Washington in the opener. Seattle has been to strong on the ground and Matt Hasselbeck is a West Coast offence magician. Seattle at home is a lock.
The prime time Saturday game will be a dandy and will be the game of the week, if not the entire playoffs. Denver won the toughest division in football, having had to fight all season with Kansas City and San Diego. Jake Plummer has a great offensive line and will be able to distribute the ball against New England's defence. Tom Brady has never lost a playoff game, but will need a career game from Corey Dillon so that the Pats can control the clock and keep the Denver offence on the sideline. Denver hands the Pats and Brady their first playoff loss in five years.
Sunday's opener has Indy against Pittsburgh. Peyton Manning with one week off is deadly to begin with. I could bet you that Manning was breaking down the Pittsburgh D during the Steelers-Bengals game and will have plenty of ways to give the Pitt D fits. This will be a romp for Indy.
The finale re-introduces the mighty Bears back to the playoffs. The Panthers have proven that they can shut down the running game, just ask the Giants. This leave the success of the Bears to Rex Grossman. Good luck with that. The Chicago defence will need to win this game outright by scoring more points than they give up. Jake Delhomme is too good to give up those types of game changing turnovers. Expect a low scoring affair, with Carolina continuing their Cinderella run.
The NFL may have to look to expanding the playoffs to increase the interest. Having eight teams per conference qualify would be great for the bubble teams trying to get in and would create more interest league wide. Get rid of the bye-week for the top two seeds and give the teams what they really want, more revenue. If this were the case this year, the playoffs would have been a whole lot more interesting.
In the NFC, the extra matchups would have had the #1 seeded Seahawks take on the #8 seed Dallas Cowboys. The regular season game was a thriller, with the Hawks sneaking out a 13-10 last play field goal in Seattle. Talk about testing the home field advantage, Parcells and the 'Boys would have given the Seahawks a run for their money. The other matchup would have had #2 Chicago taking on division rival #7 Minnesota. Both teams won a game each in blowout fashion and this game would have been the rubber match. Minnesota's second half resurgence after Booty Call on the Love Boat started too late, this game would also have been a test.
In the AFC, #1 Indy would have taken on #8 San Diego. While I think Manning would have had little trouble with the Bolts, LT would have caused the Indy D some trouble and could have kept the game close by keeping Manning off the field. #2 Denver would have drawn the #7 KC Chiefs in another division playoff barnburner. Denver and KC also split and this game would have challenged the Denver D.