Friday, January 06, 2006

Ryan's NFL Wildcard Weekend Picks

If I have an abundance of anything, it's probably opinions. You could ask me about brands of whiskey (John R. Powers and Sons), beers (90 Shilling), cars (Corvette) , or types of birth control methods (I am not an advocate of pulling out), and I would tell you where I stand. The NFL playoffs are no different. I was also thrilled with the response from USC fans, when I picked Texas to roll over their pretty boy team from the Pac 10, so I figured why not incite pro football fans as well.

Saturday Wildcard Games

4:30 p.m. on ABC -- Washington (10-6) at Tampa Bay (11-5)
Of the four playoff games this weekend, this one will probably be a good one to skip. I can already hear the stupid pirates and sunburned jackasses crying about it, but both teams have decent defenses and mediocre quarterbacks, which means lots of stacking the line of scrimmage against the run. When these two teams met in November, Tampa Bay one by a single point at home, 36-35 on a Mike Alstott two point conversion. Don't expect this one to be that high scoring. Both teams will play this one more conservatively (read: boring). For those of you (Steelers fans) who like games with 75 off tackle plays and 5 points between the two teams in the entire game, this is your game. For the rest of us, it's an opportunity to get our drink on for the next Saturday game. I pick Washington 21-17.

8:00 p.m. on ABC -- Jacksonville (12-4) at New England (10-6)
The funny thing about this game is that Jacksonville only lost 4 games this season and beat Seattle, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and hung in their with the Colts in both games this season. Like Indy, they got to play the Texans and Titans two times each, but the sports media has been giving Jacksonville a hard time and saying they won't be able to compete with New England. New England, as per usual, is getting a lot of love from the sports media. Like USC, New England is the favorite, and like USC, I predict New England will go down in a close game. Either way, it's irrelevant, since neither of these teams stand a chance against the Broncos or Colts, but calling it the Road to Nowhere Bowl might be taking it one step too far. Final Score: Jacksonville 35 New England 3. Yes, 3.

Sunday Games
1:00 p.m. on FOX -- Carolina (11-5) at N.Y. Giants (11-5)
I can't say I have watched a single Carolina Panthers highlight this year, let alone an entire game, so this pick was tough for me just simply based on the fact that it reminded me that Carolina has a football team. A lot of playoff games that I have seen involve kicking field goals. What I DID see this year was Jay Feeley of the Giants miss 3 chances to beat the Seahawks in Seattle. That alone makes me favor Carolina, sight unseen. Carolina 24 Giants 18 (Giants score 3 touchdowns; Feeley goes 0/3 on XP and 0/3 on FG attempts; goes into seclusion like Buffalo Bills Super Bowl Sensation Scott Norwood.)

4:30 p.m. on CBS -- Pittsburgh (11-5) at Cincinnati (11-5)
This match-up between the Steelers and Bengals will probably be among the best games of the weekend. Cincinnati had a great season. Pittsburgh was banged up all year, yet still managed to squeek into the playoffs. I will be cheering for Pittsburgh, but I don't think my cheering for them can help them here. This is the only game of the weekend where I hope like hell that I am wrong about the outcome, since I still harbor rage from the Boomer Esiason days in the late eighties, when he and Icky Woods stopped my Broncos from getting embarassed against the Joe Montana 49ers. I pick Cincinnati, as much as it pains me to do so, with a final score Cincinnati 24 Pittsburgh 17.

Come back on Sunday night and I'll see how my picks stack up. Share your picks for this weekend via email or in the comments section.

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