NAPC! Wildcard Round

PantherInsider.com's Robert Gilbert prognosticates the playoffs' opening weekend.

Kansas City @ Indianapolis

Well, Ty Law and Larry Johnson saved the Chiefs' playoff hopes by beating on the Jaguars, for which I thank them. Denver then lost to San Francisco, which placed Kansas City in the playoffs as the sixth seed and gave them the match up with Indy. Indianapolis managed to beat the Dolphins, and finished with the third seed. Now, as everyone knows, Indy's Achilles heel this season has been their rush defense. Larry Johnson, as everyone also knows, happens to be a stud running back. That does not bode well for the Colts, but then, Larry Johnson cannot run with the ball if he's sitting on the sidelines watching Peyton Manning run his offense. Of course, that works both ways. I wonder if KC's GM still puts forth his idea for a 14-team playoff like he does every year since they actually made it in this season? The Colts have a closing window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl before they descend into salary cap hell, so they need to have a sense of urgency to ‘win now.' I think I'll go with the home team and choose Indianapolis.

Weekly Upset Game Dallas @ Seattle

Well now, I think last week is one of the only times I have ever thought, "Aw, poor Romo." I actually did feel a little sorry for him when he scrambled on 4th and goal and got tackled at the one. He gave it his best effort, but failed. He is, however, very cavalier with the football and that will not get it done in the NFL. The Seahawks want desperately to get back to the Super Bowl and beat all the curses. I'm sure tight end Jerramy Stevens also doesn't want to drop any passes in this game or in the playoffs as a whole. I really like the Cowboys' offensive personnel and they have a very solid defense, whereas the Seahawks defense has been susceptible this year and is not the force it was in 2005. Defense wins championships, but I don't think that means Dallas wins this season. I do think, however, that defense will win the Cowboys the game this week.

New York Jets @ New England Patriots

Ah, these two teams get to meet for a third time this season. Should definitely be fun and is definitely one of the games I am most looking forward to this weekend. The Jets surprised most all of the pundits this year, so they are a great Cinderella story. New England finished 12-4 but is the last seed out of the division winners, which seems weird until you realize that San Diego is 14-2 and Baltimore is 13-3, somehow. Both these teams split with each other, so we know both can beat each other. We also know a different guy mans the Jets backfield every week and occasionally has a good game. New England's having some injury problems in the secondary, what with Rodney Harrison out for this game. Of course, they have injury problems in the secondary every year. It's usually wise not to pick against the Patriots in the playoffs, though, so I will select New England to win.

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

Well, unfortunately the Giants managed to make it in and not the Panthers or the Packers. However, it does mean Tiki Barber gets one more game minimum in his professional career. I wonder if he can top his Week 17 performance? Lord knows the Giants need it to beat the Eagles. Jeff Garcia is back in the same type of West Coast Offense that he was so successful in with San Francisco, and it has left the Eagles in playoff contention and in my opinion made the Eagles better. Brian Westbrook has also had a great season in Philly and stayed healthy, surprisingly. Well, I don't see any reason to pick the Giants to win because I don't really think they should be in the playoffs, whether or not they ‘deserved' to be. Numbers put them in. The Eagles, though, played lights-out and won a lot of games after McNabb went down, so I will go with the Eagles to beat the Giants.

Last week I went 11-5 and am 146-81 on the year, 263-126 counting last season. I did not do playoffs last year so we are starting with a fresh slate this season.


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