Sunday, January 09, 2005

NFL: Week 18 Picks (Wild Card Round)

Note: I wasn't able to complete my extended matchup breakdowns for the St. Louis/Seattle and Minnesota/Green Bay games. Frankly, I can't see extending the effort for such mediocre teams. With the exception of GB, I can't envision any of these teams doing damage next week. I may bring back my extended previews next week.

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks... Seattle
St. Louis has beaten Seattle twice this season. However, I don't see Seattle losing for a third time. For one thing, it's very hard to beat a team three times in a season. St. Louis hasn't impressed me in the last two weeks. In a must-win game against the Jets, they struggled their way to an OT victory. The Rams have played very poorly on the road this season. They face a cross-country trip to the Pacific Northwest on short rest. If St. Louis is to win this game, they will have to utilize their deep threats. Marc Bulger can still throw the long pass as well as anyone in the league. The problem is that the Rams have allowed 41 sacks this season. There's not much else to say, except that neither of these teams has a chance in hell of defeating Philly or Atlanta next week. Seattle 27-24.

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers... San Diego
The Jets team that comes into Qualcomm on Saturday night hardly resembles the squad that started 2004 at 6-1. In a game that had playoff implications, the Jets were unable to put away a wholly mediocre St. Louis Rams football team. It's to New York's detriment that they have a short week to prepare for a game over 2000 miles from home. Both teams will look to establish their running games early on. It shouldn't be easy for either team to deal with the other's rush defense. San Diego will continue to utilize Brees, Tomlinson, and Gates as their offensive firepower. On the other hand, New York will look to ride Curtis Martin all the way to victory. I'm not convinced that Chad Pennington's shoulder is 100 percent. A lot of his passes versus the Rams were wobbly and fell short of their intended target. On paper, this looks like a fairly even matchup. When I compare them position by position, it breaks down like a pick 'em game. However, I like the intangibles that the Chargers have going for them. Playing a home playoff game for the first time in many years will be a big motivation for the Chargers. In addition, they come in as a confident team, having defeated Kansas City in Week 17. I'm selecting the Chargers to win by a final score of 27-14.

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts... Indianapolis
Don't read too much into Denver's 33-14 victory over Indianapolis in Week 17. If anything, Denver was forced to show more than they may have wanted to, since they were fighting for a playoff spot. Surely, Indianapolis used that game to prepare for the matchup that they knew would ensue. I'm not sure why this game will be any different than last year's Wild Card round when Peyton Manning threw for 5 TD's. It's hard to see the Broncos being able to contain Indianapolis's three WR tandem. Despite the relative closeness on paper, this may be the most lobsided postseason matchup. Despite finishing strong, Denver has been inconsistent for much of the season. I'll select Indianapolis to win by a final score of 38-17.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers... Green Bay
These two teams are very familiar with one another. They have played twice in 2004. Both encounters were won by Green Bay by a score of 34-31. This tells me that we'll see another tight game. However, Minnesota is 2-21 in their last 23 games played outside. If Minnesota is to win this football game, they must exploit a very weak Packers secondary. CB Al Harris has been getting beat recently and could get destroyed by Moss. Brett Favre has recently been known to make mistakes in big playoff games. In the end, I expect Green Bay to use a lot of Ahman Green to control the clock. Bretty Favre will manage to make the big play or two he needs down the stretch to give Green Bay the victory. Final score will be Green Bay 28-24.


Post a Comment

<< Home