Maybe it was
bad Hufnagel

Jan 2, 2007 4:45 AM

Maybe the move to replace John Hufnagel with Kevin Gilbride as the Giants offensive coordinator was the simple fix New York needed.

Hufnagel apparently made a quick exit out of New York last week and he’s sure not being missed. Behind Gilbride’s outstanding yet simple game plan of feeding Tiki Barber the football, the Giants sent four other hopefuls to the grave with a six-point win at Washington that clinched a Wild Card berth.

The hard luck team from the NFL bunch making tee times is St. Louis, which was playing its best ball of the season. Bulger and Jackson make up a solid nucleus for what could be a big year for the Rams next season.

As for now, it will be Dallas at Seattle by virtue of the Cowboys sad loss to Detroit. The other Wild Card will be a third clash between the Giants and Eagles in Philadelphia.

The AFC came down to whether the Jets and Broncos would hold serve at home and both did. The Raiders again could not produce an offensive touchdown in falling to a franchise worst 2-14. Meanwhile, the Jets’ 10-6 record has Eric Mangini being referred to in New York as Mangenius.

And, what about the shocker in Denver. Wonder what Jake Plummer is thinking? Kansas City in the playoffs thanks to the San Francisco 49ers. Give the Niners credit for playing as if it was their playoff berth at stake. Maybe they’ll be fighting for one next year.

Right now, the best teams appear to live in the AFC. We’ll rate San Diego first, followed by Baltimore, New England, Indianapolis, Kansas City and the New York Jets in that order.

The NFC is a shambles. Anybody from 1 to 6 is capable of reaching the Super Bowl. We’ll rate New Orleans first, followed by Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, the New York Giants and Seattle.

Here’s how we see the first installment of the playoffs.

SATURDAY

AFC Wild Card

Chiefs +7 at Colts: An incredible holiday gift, perhaps arranged by the late KC owner Lamar Hunt. Not many expected the Chiefs to be in, but the Denver loss and much help from the star-crossed Cincinnati Bengals set up this matchup. And, the Chiefs have a shot. Indy is tearing up the world. The run defense is pathetic, which should play right into a potential run bonanza for Larry Johnson. Peyton has been lukewarm. If Indy falls, look for mass changes next changes. CHIEFS.

NFC Wild Card

Cowboys +3 at Seahawks: I heard Sean Salisbury, one of ESPN’s 100 football analysts, say that either Parcells or Owens would not be back next year. If true, my money is on Owens being released. This is now Tony Romo’s team and how the QB darling of Big D goes, so goes the Boys. Seattle has done little all year in the NFL’s weakest division. However, the Seahawks are now healthy and at home. Plus, getting points in a very difficult place for visitors to win. SEAHAWKS.

SUNDAY

AFC Wild Card

Jets +9 at Patriots: I love the billing: The Genius and against the Mangenius. The Jets figured to finish last in the AFC East. They’ll hit New England ready for anything, knowing they have nothing to lose. New England this season has been unreliable as a heavy home favorite. No love lost between the coaches, but the Jets seem to know how to play the Pats and Pennington knows how to manage a game. We’ll ride that knowledge again here. JETS.

NFC Wild Card

Giants +6½ at Eagles: Talk about a line out of whack. No way would this be 6½ when the teams met just a couple of weeks ago with everyone figuring Jeff Garcia was damaged goods thrown to save a sinking ship. Instead Garcia has been sensational and the Eagles are playing the best ball in the NFC. The Giants were supposed to win the NFC East, but nearly imploded due to injuries, inconsistent QB play and inner turmoil between players and coaches. Maybe the Hufnagel firing was the answer. It certainly worked against Washington. It could be Tiki time again this week. GIANTS.