Steel City Sports Playoff Extravaganza

<b>Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets</b><p> <b>Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers</b><p> <b>Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers</b><p> <b>New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers</b><p>

American Football Conference
TeamSeedHead CoachSeason Record Playoff RecordLeading PasserLeading Rusher Leading ReceiverLast Super Bowl
Oakland Raiders 1stBill Callahan11-524-16Rich GannonCharlie Garner Jerry Rice1983
Tennessee Titans 2ndJeff Fisher11-512-15Steve McNairEddie George Derrick Mason1999
Pittsburgh Steelers 3rdBill Cowher10-5-122-17Tommy MaddoxAmos Zereoue Hines Ward1995
New York Jets 4thHerm Edwards9-76-8Chad PenningtonCurtis Martin Laverneous Coles1968
Indianapolis Colts 5thTony Dungy10-614-10Peyton ManningEdgerrin James Marvin Harrison1970
Cleveland Browns 6thButch Davis9-711-19Tim Couch*William Green Quincy MorganNever

National Football Conference
TeamSeedHead CoachSeason Record Playoff RecordLeading PasserLeading Rusher Leading ReceiverLast Super Bowl
Philadelphia Eagles 1stAndy Reid12-412-15Donovan McNabbDuce Staley Todd Pinkston1980
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2ndJon Gruden12-43-7Brad JohnsonMichael Pittman Keyshawn JohnsonNever
Green Bay Packers 3rdMike Sherman12-423-11Bret FarveAhman Green Donald Driver1997
San Francisco 49ers 4thSteve Mariucci10-624-18Jeff GarciaGarrison Hearst Terrell Owens1994
Atlanta Falcons 5thDan Reeves9-6-114-6Michael VickWarrick Dunn Brian Finneran1998
New York Giants 6thJim Fassel9-716-20Kerry CollinsTiki Barber Amani Toomer2000

*Injured - out for playoffs


AFC Wildcard Game #1
Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets
4:30pm at Giants Stadium
Weather Forecast: Rain mixed with snow. Highs in the low 40's and lows in the upper 20's.

For the Jets to win:

  1. Get at least 75 yards from Curtis Martin.
  2. Chad Pennington goes to Laverneous Coles early and often.
  3. Overpower a smaller Indianapolis Colts team on both sides of the line.

For the Colts to win:

  1. Establish a solid running attack to take pressure of Peyton Manning.
  2. Get offensive production from the No. 2 receiver position. Quadry Ismail hurt doesn't help.
  3. Get sustained pressure on Pennington.

Key Match-up: Indy O-line vs. Jets front 7.

Outlook: The Jets are on a roll and will wipe the Colts off the playoff map with an aggressive defense and ball control.

NFC Wildcard Game #1
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
8:00 pm at Lambeau Field
Weather Forecast: Overcast with possible flurries. Highs in the mid 30's, lows in the mid 20's.

For the Packers to win:

  1. Bret Farve reduces his mistakes.
  2. Ball control equals Ahman Green.
  3. Contain Vick. Last time Vick ran over, through, and around the Packer defense.

For the Falcons to win:

  1. Let Michael Vick loose to create havoc.
  2. A big play early will hurt an already jittery Packer squad.
  3. Ignore the Lambeau Field legacy.

Key Match-up: Vick vs. Packers.

Outlook: The Packers have never lost at home in the playoffs. The streak will continue for another week.


AFC Wildcard Game #2 *
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
1:00 pm at Heinz Field
Weather Forecast: Possible snow showers. Highs in the low 30's, lows in the mid 20's.

For the Steelers to win:

  1. Stop William Green from the get-go.
  2. Jump on the Browns early. A 17-point lead at half never hurts.
  3. 3 seconds. Holcomb can beat you if he has more than 3 seconds to throw.

For the Browns to win:

  1. Force Tommy Maddox to make bad reads.
  2. Establish William Green early to take Pittsburgh's blitz package out of sync.
  3. One or two big plays will quiet the crowd and should give the Browns quick scores.

Key Match-up: Bettis and backs vs. Earl Holmes and Cleveland's front 7.

Outlook: The Browns will come in with a ton of emotion and the revenge factor will be high, but the Steelers will be boarding a plane to Tennessee come next week.

*Full pre-game analysis for this game will appear on Saturday.

NFC Wildcard Game #2
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
4:30 pm at Candlestick Park
Weather Forecast: Clear skies. Highs in the low 60's, lows in the high 40's.

For the Niners to win:

  1. Hit Kerry Collins often. He fumbles often when hit.
  2. Contain Tiki Barber under 75 yards.
  3. Pick off Jeremy Shockey to get his mind out of the game.

For the Giants to win:

  1. Isolate Shockey one on one with the strong safety consistently.
  2. Limit the turnovers by Barber and Collins.
  3. Stop the run and Garcia will be forced to throw all day.

Key Match-up: Shockey vs. strong safety Tony Parrish.

Outlook: The upset of the weekend waits until the final game. The Giants hound the inconsistent Niners.

--The Steel Apple

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