Even though the Dolphins are not involved, I will carry on the tradition I started last year and give my brief and sometimes pointless predictions to each playoff game this year. Last season, I went 9-2. This year, I hope to improve on that. But man, these some of these wild card matchups are tough games to call. Regardless, I'll do my best and please feel free to give us your predicitions down in the "comments" section.
Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks
To my surprise, it seems that many people like the Redskins to win this game. And I'm sure a lot of that has to do with that "team of destiny" idea following the terrible death of Sean Taylor earlier this year. Like many, I will be rooting for the Redskins. But I'm going to have to go with the Seahawks on this one. First of all, the Seahawks have experience. They are a veteran team who have plenty of playoff experience under their belts. Secondly, I think the Seahawks will do what teams haven't been able to do against the Redskins of late: get consistent pressure on Todd Collins. Sorry, but I'm not sold on the idea that Collins can win big-time games. He never has in the past. And I think that Patrick Kerney, Darryl Tapp, and Julian Peterson will be very disruptive when Collins drops back to pass. Thirdly, I think the Seahawks offense will have too much firepower for Washington to keep up with. And I'm not talking about Shaun Alexander. I am talking about Matt Hasselbeck and his 4 good receivers, Deion Branch, Bobby Engram, D.J. Hackett, and Nate Burleson. This might be the most underrated receiving core in the NFL. And lastly, it's very, very difficult to win a playoff game in Seattle nowadays. The last time it was done was 2004 and that was a very good (and veteran) St. Louis Rams team pulling off the feat.
Seahawks win 26-17
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers
This is, by far, my favorite matchup of the entire weekend. It was just 3 weeks ago that the Jaguars defeated the Steelers in Pittsburgh by 7 points. In that game, the Jaguars ran for 224 yards while David Garrard threw for 3 touchdowns. For the Steelers, Willie Parker had success on the ground, running for 100 yards on just 14 carries. But he's out for the season, meaning the rushing load falls on Najeh Davenport. That certainly worries me. And what worries me even more is that the Steelers, who are supposed to have a great run defense, have struggled since these two teams met. In week 16, the Rams ran 15 times for 90 yards (6 ypc) while the Ravens ran 40 times for 180 yards against the Steelers last week. So it's clear the Jaguars will, as usual, look to run the ball early and often with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.
Here's the thing about this game. If you asked me two weeks ago who I would have picked, it would be the Jaguars. But since then, everyone and their mother have jumped on the Jaguars bandwagon; so much so that they are actually favored on the road in Pittsburgh by 2 points in this game. And usually, when everyone likes a road team to win a playoff game (and I mean everyone), the home team usually takes it personally and wins the game. Now, I'll be rooting for the Jaguars, as I feel they matchup much better against the Pats and could give them a run for their money, but I'm going to take the Steelers for 3 reasons. One, like I said above, I don't feel comfortable picking a team that most are picking. It's almost like a trick. Two, Ben Roethlisberger and company have been there before and have the experience edge. In a big game, I'll take Big Ben over David Garrard any day of the week. That's no knock on Garrard; he's played well this year. But Ben has a knack for big plays in big spots. And three, I can't recall any time in which a team has beaten an opponent in their own stadium twice in a season. It would stun me for the Jaguars to win in Pittsburgh twice in the same season.
Steelers win a battle, 20-17
Like I said, feel free to give us your thoughts and predictions below...