NFL General

2006 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Picks

Last week, all four home teams held serve. Since the new playoff format started, the home teams have never won the first 8 games of the playoffs so there are likely a couple of road upsets this week. Check out more in depth analysis on our podcast.

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Here’s a set of alternate picks from a SC user.

2006 Playoffs: Divisional Round Picks

MATCHUP  Vegas  Vinny  BostonMac  Trevor  RJ Warner
Colts @ Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens
Eagles @ Saints Saints Saints Saints Eagles
Seahawks @ Bears Bears Bears Bears Seahawks
Patriots @ Chargers Chargers Patriots Patriots Patriots
Playoffs 3-1 3-1 2-1 3-1
Reg Season 165-90 (.647) 148-108 (.578) 153-103 (.598) 153-103 (.598)

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-4) | Saturday, Jan. 13. 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Vin Diec: Peyton Manning continued his sub-par playoff performances last week and it would take his best performance to beat that Ravens defense. But the Colts are one of the few teams that have the personnel on on offense to overpower the Ravens. This should be an interesting matchup IF Peyton can play like it’s the regular season. However, another problem for the Colts is that their defense was able to stop Larry Johnson and neutralize the passing game early on. But that won’t be available to them against the Ravens. When Herm Edwards finally abandoned the run, the Chiefs started moving the ball by going to their TEs. The Ravens have one of the best TEs in the league and veteran McNair can find him quickly. Too much defense, too much home crowd, too much Todd Heap spells another early exit for the Colts. Ravens over Colts

Ryan McGowan: What a great playoff season when I get to pick against the Colts TWICE in two consecutive weeks? I have to admit, I was not a believer in Indy against the Chiefs, but after all they were playing at home and against Herm Edwards. The Colts have no shot, however, to go into Baltimore, face a hostile crowd which will allow 23 years of pent-up angst toward the franchise to bubble to the surface. The Colts’ run defense somehow stepped it up against Larry Johnson, but I doubt they can do it two weeks in a row. Plus, we can expect another Peyton Manning playoff suck-job. I think the Ravens win and cover. Ravens over Colts

Trevor Freeman: This is going to be the laugher of the weekend. Bet heavily on
Baltimore to cover as they are going to absolutely prisonrape the Colts
this weekend. Ravens over Colts

RJ Warner: I think this is the only game of the weekend that should go according to plan. The Ravens have too much defense and plenty of offense, while the Colts offense will be stifled and will wither at the hands of Ray’s Thugs. The Colts’ defense? they’re not as out of the woods as they think they are. Look for Baltimore to grind up clock and punish Peyton Manning. Not much else to say here, Ravens over Colts

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-5.5) | Saturday, Jan. 13. 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX

Vin Diec: You know I would love to pick the Eagles in this one but the injury to Lito Shepherd really is the difference. Drew Brees is one of the toughest matchups for the Eagles because he will react quickly and get rid of the ball. He also has his full contingent of wide receivers this weekend. On defense, the Saints are susceptible to the run so expect a heavy dose of Westbrook and Buckhalter from the Eagles. Both teams will put up a boatload of points so bet the over but behind the steady running of Deuce Mcallister, the Saints get out to an early lead (inspired by a fired up home crowd) and hold on for the victory. Saints over Eagles

Ryan McGowan: This is probably the real NFC Championship game, as sad as that sounds. I picked the Eagles a couple of weeks ago to win the NFC, but after watching them against the Giants, I changed my mind. I like Jeff Garcia and I admire what he and the rest of the team has done to rise from the dead, claim the NFC East title, and win a playoff game. I never would have seen that coming in November, but I can’t help but feel that the Garcia bubble is going to have to burst soon. This game is also intriguing in that it pits one of the league’s best play-callers in Sean Payton against one of the best defensive coordinators in Jim Johnson. I think the Saints’ week off and the home field proves to be the difference, and they win a close one. Saints over Eagles

Trevor Freeman: The New Orleans Saints are a Disney movie waiting to happen. No way
the good times end in their first home playoff game in years. The
Saints defend their turf and head off to Chicago for the NFC title. Saints over Eagles

RJ Warner: Where is this dynamic home-field advantage that the Saints have? They were only 4-4 in the Big (Not That) Easy this season, losing two straight and three of four. I think the Eagles are the best team in the NFC right now, and the Saints are very beatable. If Philly can overcome the early surge of the crowd and the Saints emotion, they’ll show they’re a better football team. The Saints bring plenty of offense, but the Eagles can keep them off the field enough for Garcia and Westbrook to do their respective things. The loss of Lito Sheppard is a concern, but Philly has been overcoming losses too long to let it get them down now. Is Philly championship material? I don’t know, but this is not the week to give up on them (ahem, mr. Host) and this is not the week it will end. Eagles over Saints

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-8.5)| Sunday, Jan. 14. 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX

Vin Diec: Again the Seattle game is the weak link in a bunch of intriguing matchups in this round. Even though it was way back in week 4 (when Seattle didn’t have Shaun Alexander and Jerramy Stevens and Rex Grossman didn’t stink) the Bears thoroughly whooped up on the Seahawks. The Bears wins this season usually were a result of great defensive play and takeaways that set up the offense on the opponents’ 30 yard line. Not so in the game against the Seahawks. The Bears had 4 TD drives of 50 yards or more. And that was against a healthy Seattle secondary. Seattle doesn’t even belong in this game. If Rex Grossman regains any kind of confidence, he’ll be able to notch a victory for Chicago. Bears over Seahawks

Ryan McGowan: I really have no desire to pick either of these teams, but forced to make a choice, I’m going to go with the Bears at home. The Seahawks made the Super Bowl last year because every other team had to come through Qwest Field, but Seattle is terrible on the road in the playoffs. Even though Rex Grossman is probably on a short leash and the Brian Griese/Kyle Orton watch is on from the start, I think the Bears defense (not playing as well lately as they were in the first half of the season) manages to pull one out at home.
Bears over Seahawks

Trevor Freeman: There’s a lot of reasons to pick the Seattle Seahawks in this game.
Their offense should get points on the board, Rex Grossman is the
Nicole Richie of NFL quarterbacks, no Tommie Harris or Tank Johnson
will be felt in this one, etc. However, the game is in Chicago and it
will be cold. I’m holding my nose and taking the Bears. Do not bet
this game. Bears over Seahawks

RJ Warner: Maybe I’m crazy, but I can totally see the Seahawks going into Soldier Field and stealing this one and shocking us all. Except me and a few die hards in the 980 zip code. The Bears have been turning into the Cubs the last few postseasons they’ve been in, and might be the worst number one seed ever. I have a feeling Rex Grossman will be playing scared, no matter cool and “confident” he pretends to be in front of the cameras. He won’t be able to take what the banged up Seahawks defense will be giving him. Seattle will have a healthy and hungry Shaun Alexander running for them, which didn’t happen last time in the 37-6 smoking they took in October in Chicago. Things are a little different now. The Bears’ defense hasn’t been as 1985 as they looked back then. The offensive leader was more worried about New Year’s than playing well and winning a football game. Turnovers are the difference in most playoff games, and if Seattle avoids them and Rex makes them, the Seahawks will pull the shocker here, setting up for the first time in the current playoff format that a third-seeded team hosts the conference championship game (that would be Philly) Seahawks over Bears

New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers (-5) | Sunday, Jan. 14. 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Vin Diec: Somehow, there’s an unwritten rule that you can’t pick against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the playoffs. And while they certainly deserve a lot of respect, what about LaDanian Tomlinson? His MVP year is so spectacular that not even Marty Schottenheimer can screw it up. Marty gets/deserves a lot of criticism for his conservatism but he needs to just let LT take over. He’s too fast for the NE linebackers and will be in the secondary as soon as he busts through the line. Playing the Patriots is not a time to get fancy with HB passes and QBs lined up as flankers. Just run the ball, control the clock and grind it out. The NE defense is solid but it’s really Tom Brady that’s going to beat you so just keep him off the field. As long as Philip Rivers (who hasn’t played well down the stretch) doesn’t screw the pooch with an INT for a TD, the Chargers will defend the “home” turf, even though half the spectators will be Massholes that flew in for the game. Chargers over Patriots

Ryan McGowan: Ahh, San Diego. One of our great American cities, it allegedly means “Whale Vagina” in German. The Chargers have won 10 straight, have not lost at home, have the league MVP coming off a 31-touchdown season, have a solid first-year starting quarterback, a roided-up second-year linebacker, a bye week, home-field advantage, and an experienced coach. What’s not to like? Let’s start with the experienced coach. Experienced, yes, but only in the way that Screech Powers was experienced with women because he maybe once kissed Violet. THe big question is whether Martyball will rear its ugly head on Sunday. Will Schottenheimer tense up when the game gets close, and watch as one of his teams blows another fourth-quarter lead? Will New England throw a defensive game plan at Phillip River which will make his head spin and psyche him out of the game? Having LT and Antonio Gates is a great security blanket, but I couldn’t live with myself if I picked against the Pats. Like I said on the podcast, it’s too bad Vin didn’t have the stones to stick with his hometown team. Belichick is 12-2 in the playoffs (11-1 with NE) while Marty is 5-12 (8 times one and done, 1-2 with a first round bye). The Pats will have a weekend in the sun and surf and then battle Baltimore next week for the de facto Super Bowl title. Patriots over Chargers

Trevor Freeman: Bill Belichick is going to coach the pants off of Marty Schottenheimer
in this one. I see the Patriots bottling up LaDainian Tomlinson and
forcing Phillip Rivers to beat them. He won’t and the Patriots punch
their ticket to Baltimore in what should be an exciting AFC Title
Game. Patriots over Chargers

RJ Warner: The Chargers have more talent than the Patriots, this much is true. But at what miiht be the two most important positions in a game like this, quarterback and coaching, the Patriots have a clear edge. Do you really like Phillip Rivers over Tom Brady in a playoff game? Do you really like Marty Schottenheimer up against Bill Bellichick in the postseason? If the Patriots keep LT human (which I’m sure they can), and they can force Rivers into some mistakes (which I’m sure they will), and Brady doesn’t make those same mistakes (are you kidding?) the Patriots will win. Brady will be good enough to pick apart the over-pursuing Chargers (much like other good passing teams did this year), and New England will be the third road team to win in the week after all the home teams won. It’s coming, people. Patriots over Chargers

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