To the People

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Wildcard Weekend Football Preview

Washington (+3.5) at Seattle (-3.5)
With four consecutive wins to close out the season, the Redskins are the hottest team in the NFC. After a convincing victory over the Cowboys – who kept Mr. Romo in the game until they were down 20-3 – the Redskins feel confident that they can beat anyone. The Seahawks have been very inconsistent, finishing their season with a 41-44 loss to the Falcons. While the loss meant little, the fact that they gave up 41 points to the Falcons cannot be inspiring for the Seahawks, and is certainly a confidence booster for the Redskins.

Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks rely a great deal on the passing game. Because Washington’s defense has been primarily focused on stopping the run as of late, they must alter their defensive game plan in order to get their fifth win in a row. The way Greg Williams has schemed and the players have played, I think they solve the Seahawks. Seattle’s “12th man” may play a large role in giving them a significant advantage on their home turf, but Washington’s 12th man – Number 21 – could play an even bigger role on Saturday night. Final Score: Redskins 24 – Seahawks 20.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2)
The visiting Jaguars are a slight favorite in this game, which is sure to be a hard fought battle between two very physical football teams. The Jags actually have a better record (11-5, compared to Pittsburgh’s 10-6 record) and would likely have won their division if it wasn’t for Peyton’s team. With Willie Parker out, the Steelers have to depend on Davenport, who is not the same type of home-run threat as Parker. Their best lineman – Aaron Smith – is out. The Steelers also have a bunch of other key players who are banged up, like Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward. The Jags are healthier. And with Fred Taylor playing at an incredibly high level right now, I can’t see Pittsburgh winning this game, even with home-field advantage. Final Score: Jaguars 19 – Steelers 13.

New York Giants (+2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)
Coming off the most satisfying loss imaginable, the Giants have some momentum entering the playoffs. They played the Pats as tough as anyone else this year and Eli Manning resembled a real quarterback. Both are good signs for New York. The Bucs come into this game as the champs of their division, but really don’t benefit by playing at home, as the Giants are an incredible 7-1 on the road. Tampa Bay’s momentum is nonexistent, losing three out of their last four games. I think Brandon Jacobs has a big game, helping New York to a first round victory. Final Score: Giants 24 – Buccaneers 17.

Tennessee Titans (+9) at San Diego Chargers (-9)
This is the only game that sports oddsmakers do not think will be closely contested. The home team is a clear favorite, and for good reason. They have L.T., Gates, home-field advantage, and L.T. I’m not too impressed with the 11-5 record – they got to play Oakland and Kansas City twice each. Still, they’re a better overall team and the news is getting worse for the Titans. Their field general Vince Young is out. After losing TE Bo Scaife to a season ending injury, they announced that receiver Roydell Williams is also out for the duration of the season. The Titans won’t be able to mount enough offense to keep pace with San Diego. Without some luck in the form of well-timed turnovers, Tennessee will fall behind, get a heavy dose of L.T., then fall behind by more. Final Score: Chargers 30 – Titans 20.

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