Excuse me while I give a huge pat on the back to Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning and the G-men.
The Bucs clinched early, rested key starters for a couple of weeks and appeared ready to blitz Eli often and from many directions. Well, Tampa Bay accomplished all of that, but it wasn’t enough. Eli made all the right reads on the blitz-happy Bucs, committed no turnovers and connected for two touchdown passes to register his first playoff victory.
Peyton’s little brother has grown up a little over the past 17 games. The G-men lost only one road game the entire year as Manning led his team to a 10-6 regular season record. Coughlin could have rested all his key players when the Pats undefeated season was on the line, but he didn’t. Coughlin played all his players and the result was spirited Giants football for all 60 minutes.
Eli and the offense managed to score 35 points against the best team in the NFL but came up three points short in that final regular season game. But the G-men were rewarded with a banged up, battle tested club that came into Tampa Bay on a high and left town even higher.
Congrats to Coughlin, Manning and the entire Giants’ team on a well deserved first round playoff victory.
Here we go into the second round of the money games, where you’ll find four home teams that had a couple of weeks off to rest and nurse their nagging injuries back to health. We’ll see if the extra rest helps them as much as it did Tampa Bay.
Saturday, Jan. 12
Seahawks +8Â½ at Packers: The Packers had a tremendous passing game the entire season. Somewhere in the middle of an all passing attack offense they found a sleeper in Ryan Grant, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards with an average of 5.1 per carry. But, the Packers have not been able to stop the run of late. The Seahawks should at least be able to run someone through the line as good as the Bears! I’m taking the points all the way in this first playoff game of the weekend. Hasselbeck has plenty of receivers to call on if the running game stalls. The Pack may take away the street named after Holmgren when this one is over. SEAHAWKS.
Jaguars +12 at Patriots: This is an easy pick. It’s tough to overlook the fact that the oddsmakers have slightly inflated the Pats’ number over the past six weeks of the regular season. The Pats have blown the money in five of their last six matchups. The Jags certainly aren’t going to surprise the Pats. Jacksonville was probably the consensus pick as the team other playoff clubs wanted to avoid playing early in the postseason. Many analysts picked the Jaguars to go into Pittsburgh and beat them for a second time this season and the Jags found a way to do it. I think the big 1-2 punch of Taylor and Jones-Drew will connect to the jaws of the Pats’ defense. JAGUARS.
Sunday, Jan. 13.
Chargers + 7Â½ at Colts: I’m about as unimpressed with a division winning team on a 6-game winning streak as one person could possibly be. How many times can San Diego lay an egg in the first half and expect to come back like a different team and overcome your mistakes? I think they’ll lay another egg in the first half this Sunday and Peyton Manning won’t let them off the hook this time. The Chargers nipped the Colts 23-21 in San Diego on week 10. The Bolts scored 2 touchdowns on kick returns in that contest. All the Colts have to do to prevent a repeat is tighten up their special team play. I believe both teams will find it rather difficult to run the ball. And if the game presents itself in that fashion, I will take Peyton Manning over Philip Rivers every time. COLTS.
Giants +8 at Cowboys: Despite some key injuries and exhausting efforts at New England, the Giants have won eight straight road games and have a boat load of mojo heading into Dallas. And that’s a good thing because they’ll need every ounce of it. The Cowboys have already beaten them twice this year. That’s happened 17 times in the regular season since 1970. Eleven of those 17 times the team that’s won both has come back to win the third. The Giants have developed quite a 1-2 rushing punch of their own, similar to the Jags. Between Jacobs and Bradshaw the Giants have found a way to run the ball when needed. Tony Romo and the Dallas offense that was so high powered most of the season, has been highly ineffective lately. GIANTS.