There is no other time of the year more exciting than this in the NFL. Oh sure the final weeks of the regular season can be a blast, with those final teams slugging it out to grab one of those few wild card spots. Overall, however, the final weeks of the season are a wash. After all not everyone has anything to play for. Not true in any week of the playoffs.
In the playoffs it’s win or go home. Not even a 16 and 0 regular season record will get you any extra games if you fail to win a post season game. This is it, everyone is fighting for their lives this time of year. Some people undoubtedly will even be fighting for their jobs, hoping to not be the next Marty Schottenheimer.
Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots were able to get the most obvious advantage, a first round bye, with their exceptional play this season. The Colts, Cowboys, and Packers share the same record 13-3 while the New England Patriots, as we all know, are undefeated. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, San Diego Chargers, and Pittsburgh Steelers, though didn’t have anywhere near the best conference records were all able to win their respective divisions.
Jacksonville and the New York Giants have both done fairly well this season. Had either of these teams been in another division they might have been seeded hight, but alas they aren’t. They get into the playoffs, however, as probably the best of the wild card teams. The Tennessee Titans were a loss away from missing the playoffs altogether, but they pulled through to win their final game against the Colts; giving them the head to head over Cleveland. The Washington Redskins barely had a hope, only a few weeks ago of even being a mere mention for the playoffs. Now they are in, after winning their final four games, and seemingly on a roll.
Now that brings us to now, only a day away from the first of the playoff games. How they got there matters not. Who they played to get there doesn’t matter. Everyone is in the same boat, win now or go home. The strong team will survive, and it may not be the team with the best record. In short, it’s not just about who wanted it more, it will be who didn’t allow the fear of going home affect the play of their game. The team with the least amount of pregame butterflies, will win. Experience plays as much a role in the post season as sheer skill. So do not sleep on the playoffs, it’s about to get even more interesting.
Without any further ado, my picks.
Seattle 24 vs Washington 21: This is a going to be a close game, but Seattle has had a lot of experience in these situations while the Redskins are still very much a young team. Todd Collins will still be perfect, but Matt Hasselbeck’s leadership will be the clincher.
Jacksonville 19 @ Pittsburgh 32: The Steelers have struggled in big games this season so it seems odd that I would pick them here. Big Ben has been somewhat of a surprise this season, and I think he’ll really be turning it up a tad in this playoff game. The Steelers, and Roethlisberger have been here before, and that experience is going to pay off.
San Diego 19 vs Tennessee 27: San Diego got off to a slow start this season, but managed to pick it up several notches as the season carried on. The problem though is Phillip Rivers has still been inconsistent all season. Tomlinson will do his part to keep the game close, but the Titans Defense will eventually steal the game away in the second half.
NY Giants 14 @ Tampa Bay 17: Tampa Bay isn’t a high powered offense, but they have a defense that can keep even the best teams down. I have a feeling, Tiki Barber might be in brother, Rhonde’s ear on how to cause Eli to make mistakes. If the Giants manage to get ahead, it’s over for Tampa, but even if defense doesn’t always win championships, it’ll at the very least allow Tampa to win this game.