Saturday, January 07, 2006

posted by James - 11:38 AM

Hey... whenever someone calls my ass down to the ring, I respond, as Skippy knows too well from the number of lumps I've given him over the years. * Flying elbow off the top rope *

But David's right in that these games don't mean much to me, except to see which team the Bears are going to anihilate in the second round, en route to a NFC Championship showdown against the Seattle Seahawks... if they make it.

Let's get this started, because I'm at work and I'm sure I'll get kicked off this computer soon enough.

Game 1: Washington (10-6) at Tampa Bay (11-5)
This is the game which will determine who the Bears play, after their week in sunny... like it matters, I would just hope they wouldn't have stayed in this frigid sumbitch if they didn't have to.

The Bears played both teams, losing to Washington in week 1 without giving up a touchdown and beating Tampa Bay, but they didn't have RB Cadillac Williams running on fresh tires at the time.

If Washington wins this game on the strength of RB Clinton Portis and resurgent UW-alum QB Mark Brunell, who may not play, the Bears won't have to worry about the improvement of QB Chris Simms and Williams and the humungous chip on DE Simeon Rice's shoulder since his snub at the Pro Bowl... but I don't see that happening.

James' prediction: Tampa Bay 19, Washington 17

Game 2: Jacksonville (12-4) at New England (10-6)
I thing Dave's scenario of a last second touchdown to Smith is extremely plausable, but who is this guy Smith and when did he put on a Patriots uniform?

Ya see, my prediction has more to do with who's throwing the ball... Jacksonville will start a QB who hasn't played since November. If they played David Garrard instead of Byron Leftwich, I'd give them a better shot. However, the Patriots did what they've done four out of the last five years, find a way to make the playoffs and look impressive doing it, and their QB hasn't lost in nine playoff games.

Yeah, there's a first time for everything, even for Tom Brady, but it won't be this week.

James' prediction: New England 27, Jacksonville 20

Game 3: Carolina (11-5) at New York (11-5)
If I wanted an easy matchup for the Bears, I'd say go with Carolina. The Bears dominated the entire NFC South this year, but I've already predicted they'll face Tampa Bay, so I'm getting what I wish for anyway (be careful what you wish for, I know).

The Giants have the formula: great defense and RB Tiki Barber, running and passing and racking up huge chunks of turf.

Without a full-strength DeShaun Foster or Stephen Davis, the Panthers have little running game of which to speak... and they've pined for a complement to Steve Smith in the passing game all season. QB Jake Delhomme will have his hands full with the Giants pass rush coming at him without fear.

The Panthers could still win if Steve Smith takes over the game and Giants QB makes mistakes.

James' Prediction: Giants 34, Panthers 26

Game 4: Pittsburgh (11-5) at Cincinnati (11-5)
I sure hope the Bengals used their time off well, because that's what the last two weeks amounted to for them. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs stomped a mudhole in them and walked it dry... and those ain't exactly playoff teams. I feel worse about that since the lack of production from Rudi Johnson pretty much torpedoed any hopes of winning my two fantasy leagues.

I'm not bitter though. I'm open minded about the Bengals chances, but they haven't been tested in five weeks since they last played and beat the Steelers.

This is by far the hardest game of them all to call, especially after watching them both dominate the Bears, even though when the Steelers did it they ended the Bears' eight-game winning streak.

With the Bus finishing his career with a bang instead of anything resembling a sputter, I see them making it to the second round to face the Indianapolis Colts.

James' prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 21

That would give us Bucs at Bears, Giants at Seahawks, Steelers at Colts and Patriots at Broncos... that will be one hell of a football weekend.

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