the money games begin!
The wild 17-week scramble
for playoff spots is over. And no matter how you got here, welcome to wild-card
weekend. It follows the craziest weekend of NFL action ever, bar none. The wacky
weekend started Saturday with the Giants shocking Philly, winning their fourth
straight to finish 10-6. The craziness didn't stop there. Sunday, the Falcons
were out of playoff action when Browns stuffed 'em at the goal line.
Then Atlanta was back in the
money when Panthers upset New Orleans. The Browns thought they were in for sure
when they beat Atlanta and Miami had a huge lead over Pats. Then the Fish were
caught in Pats' line and they were hooked, fileted and fried with an OT field
Cleveland then waited for the Jets to destroy Green Bay before
celebrating its first playoff appearance in eight years. No more playoff
scenarios to worry about. The what-ifs and guessing are over. Hang on to your
playoff hats, the Super Bowl derby is about to begin. Every game is
JETS (-5Â½) over
Colts: The only matchup on wild-card weekend where the two teams have not met
earlier in the season. Herman Edwards bunch have become the most feared seed in
this Super Bowl tournament. And, with good reason. Chad Pennington looks like a
seasoned veteran, picking apart some very good defenses down the stretch.
Opposing defenses have to
worry about plenty of offensive weapons including Coles, Moss, Chrebet, not to
mention Curtis Martin. In the trenches, the offensive line is opening up gaping
holes and the defense has kept opposing offenses under 20 points in 9 of the
last 11 games. The Colts don't play consistent enough defense. Peyton Manning is
dangerous and Edgerrin James is finally showing signs of life. But I believe the
Colts spotty D will be the main reason for an early-out.
Falcons (+6Â½) over
PACKERS: You've probably heard it 999,999 times before. Let me just mention it
in Austin Powers' fashion, for the one-millionth time! The Packers have never
lost a playoff game at Lambeau Field. You can only pray not to hear it anymore.Â
You might never have to hear it again after Saturday. I'm not saying the
Packers will lose. Just say I wouldn't be shocked if they did. We're a long way
from Week 1. But the Packers were lucky to beat the Falcons that day. They
needed a field goal in OT to get the job done. The final was 37-34.
A crack exposed in the
Packers armor in N.Y. Green Bay was playing for a first-round bye and home field
advantage and proceeded to get crushed. The Pack D looked confused. Have to give
credit to Chad Pennington and the Jets' offense. Looking for Atlanta to turn
Michael Vick loose. Everyone has been asking him to throw, throw and throw
before he takes off running. I would change that to throw, run and run. Vick
gave up a few opportunities to run for first downs against Cleveland but threw
instead and came up short.
Browns (+7Â½) over
STEELERS: To say both teams know each other well would be the ultimate
understatement. Long time rivals met in Weeks 4 and 9. Both games were decided
by a field goal. Have to believe this number would be about 4 if Tim Couch
hadn't broke his fibula. But don't forget, Kelly Holcomb was the highest rated
QB in the league at one time this season. The Browns went 3-1 under Holcomb's
guidance when Couch was injured earlier this season. There are many people in
Cleveland who feel as if Holcomb should be the No. 1 QB in town, even with a
healthy Couch. One full week of work, knowing he's going to start, will not hurt
Holcomb's chances of surprising Steelers.
Giants (+4) over
49ERS: Like the other NFC game, you have to go back to Week 1 to catch a glimpse
of these two involved in a tango. At the time, Niners were supposed to be a
vastly improved team. The G-men would be lucky to finish 8-8 according to most
preseason experts. Those doomsayers were right on a month ago when Fassel's men
were 6-6. But the Giants had other plans, rising from the ashes to win their
last four games and finish 10-6. The Giants hung tough on that first Monday
night affair, losing only by 3, and they are better right now. Niners were an
improved team as predicted, but struggled more than expected, especially in big
games with Philly and Green Bay. Expect another tight game.
Last week: 8-5-2