Now that this New Year's shit is out of the way, it's time to get serious. The playoffs officially begin Saturday, but for a lot of teams it really kicked off last Sunday, when there were multiple postseason spots on the line and about 12 teams with a chance to make it. The day was packed with non-stop action, and fortunately the Jets, Cowboys, Patriots and Broncos all ate a dick and won't be participating in the fun. I couldn't be happier.
The Pats can hold their heads high because at least they won. Those other teams have no excuse. The Broncos deserved to lose because the Hochuli call wasn't fair, but holy shit did they ever get reamed. There's bad defense, and then there's giving up 52 in a "win and you're in" scenario. Atrocious. I applaud their management for finally firing Mike Shanahan, who has been living off the faded glory of Horseface Elway for more than a decade.
The Cowboys were just as bad with their own season on the line, getting blown out 44-6 by a hated division rival. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of scumbags. And I love that Jerry Jones is too arrogant and stubborn to admit his mistake in hiring Wade Philips, so he's going to force him to stay on as coach next year when he clearly can't control players who don't respect him. This is so awesome.
And the Jets? Whoo boy. Hating this team has given me a lifetime of pleasure, and this season was exactly like last season's miraculous Giants championship run, only in reverse. SO much fun to watch, and it should continue in the near future. They did the right thing by getting rid of Eric "Worst 'Sopranos' Cameo Ever" Mangini, but undercut it by keeping their lawyer/cap guy (i.e., non-football guy) GM Mike Tannenbaum. He can't evaluate talent and will continue to drive them further into cap hell. And then there's the Favre thing, which has the Jets fucked eight ways til Sunday. If he stays they're stuck with a washed up 40-year-old QB, and if he leaves they're stuck with Kellen Clemens or some other sucker. PLEASE Spagnuolo - don't go coach these guys. Your career may never recover.
So yeah, last Sunday was one of the greatest days of football you'll ever see. In some ways it may even be better than the wildcard round, although I'm hoping this weekend's games will exceed my expectations. Keith and I are going to do picks, but we've agreed that we're only picking winners because point spreads are meaningless in the playoffs.
(For the record, Keith corrected me on my season totals last week. I was missing a week, which I'll try to track down when I get a chance. What I am sure of is that last week I went 10-6 and Keith went 11-5, so he gained a game. Depending on if he beat me in that missing week, plus the playoffs, he still may have a chance to win the Great Donovan's Burger Bet. I really should figure this out.)
Falcons at Cardinals
Arizona is a terrible playoff team. They can throw it, but they can't do anything else. This won't be a cakewalk for Atlanta because Arizona will put up points on their suspect defense, but Michael Turner will run the ball down their throats and control the clock.
Colts at Chargers
These teams always play close games, and while San Diego is on a hot streak, no one is hotter than Indianapolis. I don't know how they do it, but Indy keeps finding ways to eek out W's, and I think they'll do it again this week.
Ravens at Dolphins
The Ravens D gets all the pub, and deservedly so, but the Dolphins D isn't too shabby either. What's lost in all the hoopla about how physical the Ravens are is that they really don't run the ball all that well, and I think Miami will shut down their ground game and put the game on Flacco's shoulders. He's shown promise, but I don't like his chances on the road this week. Miami's remarkable Cinderella season continues for one more week.
Eagles at Vikings
I have a feeling that - like everyone else in the world - Keith will pick the Eagles in this game. He may even say - like everyone else in the world - a major factor is that Minnesota QB Tavaris Jackson sucks. If he doesn't say that, I apologize in advance. But if he does, I'll remind him he's also on the record privately as saying Tavaris has a higher QB rating than Eli Manning. I'm not quite sure what to make of that; does Keith actually think Tavaris is a better QB than Eli? That would be really funny. Either way, whatever reason Keith pulls out of his ass to justify his pick should be fun to read.
I'm going out on a limb and taking Minnesota in this game because I don't trust the Eagles. The conventional wisdom is that Philly is a major threat to make the Super Bowl, except that they're wildly inconsistent, which makes them overrated. They shot their load against Dallas last week and will be overconfident with everyone expecting them to roll through Minnesota. Purple Jesus will run roughshod, Tavaris will make a spectacular play with his legs, the Vikes D will cause a couple of turnovers, Philly won't be able to convert most third and short situations, and Andy Reid will do something questionable to cost his team points. It'll be close, but Minnesota will ride the emotion of their home crowd to victory.
Like I wrote last week, I will finally be enjoying the playoffs on my brand new HDTV. Sweet. I feel like I'm watching TV in the future. Keith has mentioned that he doesn't watch much standard TV anymore because he's spoiled by HD, and after a week I can totally see his point. Everything looks better, but sports are where it really shines. That whole "you feel like you're there" cliche is actually true, and I've found myself watching more shitty college football games than I normally would just because it looks so damned good. Thank god I upgraded in time for the NFL playoffs. Maybe we'll upgrade this site too just in time for Round 2.