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- Divisional Playoffs

Chris Pokorny January 14, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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The divisional playoffs are here and there are three wildcard teams, including two 8-8 teams, that are still alive. It may seem hard to believe, but that's how depleted the NFC was this season. Although the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings had poor seasons, they played to their fullest potential in last weeks games and are looking to upset the top two seeds this week. In the AFC, the games will be very competitive. Let's start out with the Saturday games.

New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I'll give the Jet credit for upsetting the Chargers last week, but don't expect the same in this game. Jerome Bettis, a hall of fame running back who many thought had nothing left in him, seemed to easily gain over 100 yards per game behind the offensive line. The Jets have a solid defense, but stopping Bettis and a healthier Duce Staley is not an easy task. Rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has yet to lose a game, but that was in the regular season. None of that will mean a thing if Big Ben can't lead the Steelers to a victory in the postseason. As long ad Big Ben makes safe throws with an occasional deep pass to Plaxico Burress, then everyone else will do their part. For the Jets, the question will be how Pennington plays in the big game. He's lost twice to the Patriots and once to the Steelers this season, but he did play exceptionally well against the Chargers last week. Pennington needs clutch throws to Santana Moss again if the Jets want to have any chance of winning this game. The Steelers superior defense and the offenses ability to run out the clock will get them the win. Steelers win 24-13.

St. Louis Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons
This was a very tough decision to make, but I decided to go with the big upset here. The Falcons are a better team than the Rams, but I just have a weird feeling that Vick will have one of his occasional "poor" games where he fumbles and throws interceptions. That doesn't happen often, but I'm willing to take the chance and take the Rams. The one thing the Falcons have struggled at defensively are when the running attack dominates them, which was proven when the Kansas City Chiefs scored eight rushing touchdowns on them earlier in the season. Mike Martz always keeps you guessing, so he could always come out and have Marc Bulger throw the football for every play. Whatever he does, the Rams will put points on the board. Even though St. Louis is on the road, they will be playing on turf, which they are very familiar with. Even though the Rams defense doesn't create a lot of turnovers, I'm basically banking on Vick having a poor game. If Vick plays at his best, I think the Falcons should walk all over the Rams defense. Alge Crumpler has not played for nearly a month, and he is their best offensive weapon, not including Vick. Rams win 20-17.

And now, for the Sunday games...

Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Since the injury to Terrell Owens, it seems like months since we've seen this entire Philadelphia team play together. It's not the NFC Championship game yet, so the Eagles aren't due to have a collapse yet. The one thing that everyone needs to begin realizing is that the Vikings offensive strike last week is nothing new. Too many people suddenly think the Vikings offense can torch the Eagles. Well guess what? Minnesota scored 31 points in not one, not two, but all three games against the Packers this season. What have the Vikings done against teams with good defenses, such as Washington? Not enough. The Eagles defense will put a clamp on the Vikings, especially with a hobbled Randy Moss. The Vikings defense will not put up a second consecutive A performance. Even though the Eagles miss Owens, don't forget about the weapons they have. McNabb can easily gain 20 yards by running the ball and Brian Westbrook is what of the most versatile backs in the NFL. The Eagles may be able to rest their starters again in this game if the Vikings offense doesn't show up. I will give Minnesota the benefit of the doubt somewhat, and say that they will stay in the game somewhat. Eagles win 27-20.

Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots
People who think the Colts offense can't defeat the Patriots defense obviously haven't watched Peyton Manning. Bill Belichick has done an excellent job with the defense, but I don't see any reason why Manning can't throw for four touchdowns and 300 yards in the absence of Ty Law and Tyrone Poole. The Colts will have this game won if they lead by 14 at anytime because it creates a sense of urgency for opposing offenses to pass. That gives Dwight Freeny the chance to pass rush and force Brady to make throws that he'll regret. The only way the Patriots can stay in this game is if they get into a shootout. Brady must match the Colts scoring in every possession. While Brady is an excellent quarterback, just one bad possession can lose the game. The Colts and Peyton Manning are too much to handle. Colts win 34-24. This will be the best game of the weekend.

I won't miss a single second of these games, and neither should you. Last week I went 2-2, but the playoffs are unpredictable, so you never know what will happen. Each game will be a classic...

-Chris Pokorny

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