Playoff Pie: The Divisionals

Carolina at St. Louis<br> Tennessee at New England<br> Indianapolis at Kansas City<br> Green Bay at Philadelphia

Saturday's Games

NFC Divisional Playoff #1

Carolina Panthers at St. Louis Rams
4:30pm at the Edward Jones Dome
Weather Forecast: Indoors

Announcing Teams
FOX: Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston
CBS Radio: Marv Albert, Warren Moon, Rick Walker (Field Reporter)

The Panthers can win if:
1. They remain patient and committed to the run.
2. They force Marc Bulger into poor decisions.
3. Steve Smith can control the air.

The Rams can win if:
1. Marshall Faulk controls the field.
2. The defensive line blows up the Panthers offensive line.
3. Marc Bulger plays mistake-free football.

Key Match-up: Bulger vs. Delhomme

Outlook: The Rams are a very weak #2 seed. I like the Panthers to gut this one out on behalf of some Bulger miscues.

AFC Divisional Playoff #1

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
8:00 pm at Gillette Stadium
Weather Forecast: Windy. Highs in low teens. Lows in negative digits.

Announcing Teams
CBS: Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms, Armen Keteyian (Field Reporter)
CBS Radio: Brad Sham, Kellen Winslow, John Dockery (Field Reporter)

The Titans can win if:
1. They can get 80 yards out of Eddie George.
2. Steve McNair rebounds from his 3 INT performance last week.
3. Albert Haynesworth and the defensive line can blow up the screen passing game.

The Patriots can win if:
1. Tom Brady can connect vertically early.
2. The defense can win the battle of field position.
3. The defense can force McNair into 3rd and long throws.

Key Match-up: Front 7 vs. McNair

Outlook: This was a tough pick all the way, but I'm not backing down from my early season AFC Championship prediction. Titans by a field goal.

Sunday's Games

AFC Divisional Playoff #2

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
1:00 pm at Arrowhead Stadium
Weather Forecast: Chance of heavy rain. Highs in the mid-40s. Lows in mid-20s.

Announcing Teams
CBS: Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf, Bonnie Bernstein (Field Reporter)
CBS Radio: Joel Meyers, Bob Trumpy, Rick Walker (Field Reporter)

The Colts can win if:
1. Peyton Manning can quiet the hometown crowd early.
2. The defense can contain Priest Holmes.
3. The special teams units can shut down Dante Hall.

The Chiefs can win if:
1. They focus on what they do well: Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez.
2. Trent Green throws enough deep balls to keep the Colts honest.
3. The defense can keep Manning off the field.

Key Match-up: Priest Holmes vs. Colts front 7

Outlook: The Colts are hot, but the Chiefs have the running attack to keep Manning and Co. off the field. This will be a high scoring match, but I like the Chiefs.

NFC Divisional Playoff # 2

Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
4:30 pm at Lincoln Financial Field
Weather Forecast: Sunny and cold. Highs near 30. Lows in the mid-20s.

Announcing Teams
FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Pam Oliver (Field reporter)
CBS Radio: Dave Sims, Jack Ham, Beasley Reece (Field Reporter)

The Packers can win if:
1. Ahman Green keeps the ball off the turf and runs wild.
2. The receivers make more plays than the Eagles receivers.
3. Bret Favre can quiet the crowd early.

The Eagles can win if:
1. Donavon McNabb can tire out the Packer defense.
2. Duce Staley and Correl Buckhalter can pick up the yards due to Brian Westbrooks' injury.
3. The defense can force Favre into bad throws.

Key Match-up: Favre vs. McNabb

Outlook: The Eagles end their season the way they began - with a loss. The Packers are a team of destiny right now and Farve won't let them lose this game.

Thoughts Assisted by Yuengling

  • Tim Lewis being gone might be a good thing. It seems as if he was only successful as a DC in a former era where defenses with big, run-stopping strong safeties stopped the run and dime defenses were manned with big, slow cornerbacks.
  • If the Steelers can get a quarterback for the future they better not let him pass by again, but something tells me Cowher's gonna gun for one more run to the title before his contract runs out. That's why he'll go running back in the first round.
  • Oh, who are we kidding, he'll go guard with the first pick.
  • So, Mr. Cowher and Mr. Rooney, who do you keep: Plaxico or Bell?
  • Peter King picked Rod Smith as his second All-Pro wide out in the AFC (Marvin Harrison was the #1). Um, Mr. King, no offense, but what about Hines Ward? Derrick Mason? Chad Johnson? Rod Smith didn't have nearly the year that those three did.
  • The Falcons hired Jim Mora Jr. as their coach. I'm telling you, Mike Mularkey with Michael Vick would have been magic.

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