NFL General

NFL Divisional Round Playoff Picks Jan 14 -15 2006

Last week, everyone went 4-0 except Vegas Vinny. So for 3 out of the 4 prognosticators, the dream of a perfect 11-0 playoff season is still alive. This week we look at the best playoff round in football.

You can listen to in depth analysis of this week’s picks as well as a discussion on the coaching carousel on our podcast or subscribe via this feed.

Matchup Vin Teri Ryan Trevor
Redskins – Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks
Patriots – Broncos Broncos Patriots Broncos Broncos
Steelers-Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts
Panthers-Bears Bears Panthers Panthers Panthers

(Here are our original playoff picks before the first round.)

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks | Saturday, Jan. 14. 4:30 p.m. on Fox

Ryan McGowan: I am having a hard time picking a team that put up 120 yards of offense last week, and watched its quarterback Mark Brunell get outgained in passing yardage by Carson Palmer (who played two plays from scrimmage). Washington won last week on the strength of two big plays on defense, both of which could have gone the other way given an inch or two in any direction. Meanwhile, they are running into the Seahawks, unbeaten at home this season, with a quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck who has a 137.4 rating with 9 TD’s and 1 INT in his last four games. Oh yeah, and they have another skill guy who wears #37, too. Seattle should win this by a touchdown (not sure they cover the 9) and will give Joe Gibbs his first career loss vs the Seahawks (he is currently 5-0 lifetime).

Teri Berg:
The momentum the ‘Skins left the regular season with was long gone by the time they met Tampa Bay last week, and if not for a couple lucky breaks for their defense, they could have easily hacked that game up like a hairball. PEE-YEW — what a stinky offense! Washington’s had too many close games this season, some of which they were on the winning end of. But I don’t think it will turn out that way in Seattle. Hasselbeck, Alexander and that offensive line have far more experience and skill than what the ‘Skins saw last week in Tampa. And though the ‘Hawks’ defense might not be as strong as TB’s, they don’t need to be with Washington’s offense looking so anemic. Seattle gets into the NFC title game.

Vin Diec: The Washington Redskins are the biggest frauds left in the playoffs. 120 yards of total offense in a playoff game? They have no business traveling to Seattle this weekend. If not for a couple of lucky bounces and the paw of Sal’a’v’e’a, the Skins don’t even sniff the endzone. Despite holding Cadillac Williams to 53 yards last week, the Skins are still just 13th against the run, going up against the MVP on his home turf? Alexander should be able to gouge them for 150 combined yards running behind Hutchinson and Jones. Yes, the Washington D is playing well as of late but Seattle’s rested offense will prove too much. On offense, Washington has to establish the run game but Portis is a little banged up and the Seattle D is 5th in the league against the run. The Redskins will have to win this one in the air with Brunnel hooking up with Santana Moss (2 recs, 18 yards vs Bucs) but Andre Dyson is back this week in the Seattle secondary. I’ll take Seattle and give the 9 points.

Trevor Freeman:This is the worst game of the weekend. Seattle is going to come out roaring and put the Redskins away by halftime. Once the Seahawks force Washington out of their running game this game will get away from Joe Gibbs. This is the “if you have to go shopping with your girlfriend at some point this weekend, do it now” game. Take the points and use Seattle in all of your teasers this weekend.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos | Saturday, Jan. 14. 8:00 p.m. on CBS

Ryan McGowan: It pains me as a longtime Patriots fan to write this, but I’m afraid the champs’ run might come to an end on Saturday night at Invesco. New England has a history of bad losses in Denver, and the Broncos have won three of the last four between the two teams, including a 28-20 thrashing in Week 6 that was a 28-3 blowout before Brady took advantage of a Champ Bailey-less secondary to make the score respectable. Granted, the Pats were without a lot of their key players in that game (Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour most notably) who will be playing this weekend, but I think you cannot overstate the importance of home field advantage in the thin air, as well as Mike Shanahan having two weeks to prepare for the Pats. Throw in the possible distraction of Eric Mangini interviewing for the NY Jets head job on Sunday, and all signs point to the home team in this one. Although I will be wearing my Vrabel jersey on Sat night, I’m not going to be surprised if the run ends in Mile High.

Teri Berg: I know I’m going against the grain here, and maybe I should’ve learned my lesson earlier in the season when I picked San Diego to win at Arrowhead in December. But I’m leaning toward the Pats, and here’s why: 1) Jake Plummer had the game of his Broncos career vs. NE in Week 6 — no way he repeats that performance, even against the Pats’ limited secondary. 2) Despite the big talk about how great Champ Bailey is, Denver’s secondary is ranked at 29th in the league, and I think the Belichick/Brady two-headed monster can take advantage of that this time. 3) And this is the key: The Broncos running game is unquestionably solid, but the Pats’ run defense is way better than it was earlier in the season. The Patriots buck the divisional playoff odds with a road win here.

Vin Diec: New England looked great last week. (But that’s like standing someone next to ugly ass Kristen Dunst, it’s all relative.) They looked great against a team that was unprepared to play and thoroughly outcoached. Jacksonville didn’t get a first down until the second quarter! Everyone is on the Patriots bandwagon now (oooooh the Champs!) but I don’t see how this game can play out any different from the previous meeting of these two teams. Yes, the Patriots were missing a couple of players, most notably Corey Dillon on offense, but the Denver D is 2nd in the league against the run. Dillon will be lucky to break 70 yards. The best matchup of this game is the strong running attack of Anderson and Bell against the #3 Patriots run defense. If the offensive line can create some space and get their running game going, Jake Plummer will be able to do some damage against New England’s #31 pass defense. Take the Broncos and that insane home field advantage and give the 3 points.

Trevor Freeman: The best game of the weekend. You have the defending champions versus a Bronco team that is coming off a bye week and is playing at home (where they haven’t lost since December 2004). I’m taking Denver here. I know it’s risky and believe me when I tell you that I’m not touching this game. I think Shanahan will have a couple new wrinkles on offense that will enable Denver to score early. By doing that, they’ll keep their boisterous crowd in the game. Then Denver will hammer New England with Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson in the second half. I think the Broncos win a nailbiter. Try 27-24.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts | Sunday, Jan. 15. 1:00 p.m. on CBS

Ryan McGowan: While Pittsburgh has been scratching and clawing for their playoff lives the past five weeks, the Colts have been relaxing in their hammocks and hot tubs, doing Sudoku puzzles, and getting rubdowns from hot cheerleaders. Edgerrin James finally has some fresh legs, and I think if the Colts get out to a lead, they will ride his horse in the second horse to a big 100-yard day. Peyton Manning is a machine in home playoff games, with 9 touchdowns and only 10 INCOMPLETIONS in his last two postseason games in the Dome. Look for the Colts to make Roethlisberger throw the ball 25-30 times, well more than the 20 times that Bill Cowher would prefer. I think the Colts win easily.

Teri Berg: Maybe the least interesting matchup of the weekend. Yes, Pittsburgh keeps winning, and I’d sure like to see Bill Cowhers get another shot at a Super Bowl — but he’s not doing it with this corps of running backs or with this receiver lineup. And Big Ben Roethlisberger still needs some seasoning. This is the time, though, for Indianapolis. Every aspect of their game is at the tipping point — the coach who’s come oh-so-close; the best QB in the league, who’s weathered his storms this season; their consistently excellent RB and unstoppable passing options; and, finally, a defense the Colts are clearly taking pride in. I see Indy covering this spread and more against the Steelers this week.

Vin Diec: The only thing Pittsburgh fans can hope for is that the rustiness of Ben Roethlisberger coming off his injury was the key factor in the loss at Indy in week 12. Yes, the Steelers are on a roll and are a better team now, but Indy just toyed with the Steelers last time around. No matter how much the Steelers have improved, they aren’t in Indy’s league. Don’t let the talking heads fool you about momentum vs rest and all that nonsense. Last year, Andy Reid proved that it’s better to be rested. The Colts are the best team in football with a purpose and it’ll take a moumental effort from Pittsburgh (think Villanova vs Georgetown) to pull this one out. The Steelers are not built to compete with Indy’s track team and despite what most people think, they can’t out physical them either. It shouldn’t even be close. Go ahead and give the 9.5 points.

Trevor Freeman:If this game was outdoors in Pittsburgh then the Steelers would have a shot. However, the game is in Indy and I can’t see anyway for the Steelers to prevail. Ben Roethlisberger is going to be forced to put it up over 30 times this week and that’s not what the Steelers want to do. Indy wins going away. Take the points and feel good about it.

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears | Sunday, Jan. 15. 4:30 p.m. on Fox

Ryan McGowan: I have to admit, I am jumping on the Panthers bandwagon. I’ve considered them frauds for awhile, but it’s hard to dismiss the ass-kicking they administered to the Giants in their 34th home game of the season last week. The Bears’ great strength is their defense’s ability to cause turnovers and create a short field for their offense, but Carolina’s red zone defense is #3 in the league, which leads me to think that a lot of those short fields will just become long field goal attempts, and who knows what kind of swirling wind will be kicking around Soldiers Field in the Windy City at 4:30 on Sunday. Something about the Panthers just screams that they turn up their game come playoff time (see: 2003 postseason), and the stats prove it. DeShaun Foster averages 5.0 yards a carry in the postseason, while Steve Smith has a TD in 4 out of 5 playoff games and Jake Delhomme has a Tom Brady-esque 105 QB rating in “tournament” games. Throw in the facts that Rex Grossman has played six quarters this season and Lovie Smith is a rookie playoff coach going up against probably the most underrated head guy in the league in John Fox, and this one has all the makings of a road upset. If I were a betting man, I’d take Carolina and the points this weekend.

Teri Berg: A scary pick to have to make. I’m picking a team I’ve thought was a fraud all season, and I’m picking them ON THE ROAD in the divisional playoffs against the No. 1 defense in the league. Have I lost my mind? Well, if I have, Ryan and Trevor will have rooms adjacent mine in the nuthouse! I’m all for Da Bears’ defense in this game, but I just can’t bet on Rex Grossman — a virtual rookie with only hours of NFL playing time under his belt. (Laying money on Grossman at this point in the season would be way more risky even than lining up for Kyle Orton to win 10 games this season.) I’d like the looks of Thomas Jones and Adrian Peterson in the Bears’ backfield more if Carolina didn’t have great momentum coming into this game. And that momentum, as we saw in the Panthers’ trip to the Super Bowl, really goes a long way for John Fox and Jake DelHomme. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Carolina gets into the NFC title game — where, I hope, everyone will finally witness their utter fraudulence, Sean Salisbury be damned!

Vin Diec: This is the most intriguing game of the week. This is the trap everyone falls into in the divisional round game. They see a team beat up on a wild card team and assume that they’re the conference’s real juggernaut. Remember Vikings and Colts last year? How many people jumped on their bandwagon after round 1? Yes, the emergency rooms will be full of broken ankles next week as people scramble to jump off the Panthers bandwagon. The key to this game is Nathan Vasser vs Steve Smith. Note that I put Vasser first. In the last meeting between these two teams, he had 2 INTs and was the main reason why the Bears won. He is a ball hawk that will try to jump the routes and take it to the house. Or at least set up Rex Grossman with a very short field. DeShaun Foster had a great game against the Giants but the Giants have no linebackers and no secondary. You can’t say enough about the Bears and what they’ve been able to accomplish this year on Defense. The Bears are only giving 3 points at home so I’ll go ahead and take my fourth home team. Hey, at least Steve Smith and company can comfort themselves with the dirtiest cheerleaders in the league.

Trevor Freeman:Last weekend, Carolina showed that their Super Bowl swagger of two years ago remained. This week is when the rest of the NFL viewing public finally says, “Carolina looks like they’re still the best team in the NFC”. Chicago is going to get drilled this weekend by the Panthers. The Carolina defense just made Eli Manning look like a little kid out there and now they get Rex Grossman who played all of six quarters this season. The same Rex Grossman who epitomized the word “shaky” while at Florida. Grossman gives the ball away at least twice this weekend. On the flip side, Jake Delhomne is quietly evolving into this generation’s Kenny Stabler. The Cajun seems to left his performance when the lights are on and I see him having a good game against the Bears. DeShaun Foster is hitting his stride as well. Look for Carolina to win this one 20-3. Bet on them with confidence.

5 replies on “NFL Divisional Round Playoff Picks Jan 14 -15 2006”

Porter’s comments Pittsburgh LB Joey Porter is getting all red about playing the Colts on Sunday, saying he wants Peyton Manning to stop trying to trick the opposing defense and just play football.

Um, wasn’t it the Steelers who bombed the Bengals last weekend with a trick play on offense? And haven’t they been doing that (at least trying) all season long, with Antwaan Randle El dropping back to pass?

Porter went on to say the Colts “want to make you think. They want to make it a thinking game instead of a football game.”

That’s a bad thing, Joey? Let’s ask the Patriots, and see if they think it’s only a football game.

well, it’s not fair Why should Joey have to think on the football field? He was told there’d be no math on this test.

Teams we like… Did I ever say I WANT the Bears to win? Well, I hope they do, even though I picked Carolina.

When these two teams met in the regular season in Week 11, I think I reluctantly picked Carolina then — then it was pure glee to see the Panthers get crushed. I’m sorta hoping for more of the same on Sunday.

The Battle of the Jakes …………….Plummer……Delhomme…….it’s the Super Bowl, live from Detroit………..Just remember, I called Denver and Carolina from the very beginning.

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