Friday, January 12, 2007

NFL Playoffs Open Thread

Indianapolis at Baltimore

Most people do not give the Colts a chance. The Ravens don't either. Lewis and company has been talking a lot of smack.

There is a lot of bad blood between these two cities over the loss of the Colts. But, that's just the backdrop. The fact is, there's going to be a football game there tomorrow. The winner moves on and the loser clears out their lockers for the season.

Talking trash before the game can go either way. If you can back it up on the field, then you have some psychological edges in future games. If not, the other team uses your statements for locker room billboard material and gets madder. The Colts must respond with their defense, in order to stop a merely efficient offense. That is their only hope. Because the Ravens' defense is that damned good, they are arguably the best in the league.

This could be closer than people think. I predict a lower score than most.


Philadelphia at New Orleans

Historically, New Orleans has had decent teams that started out of the gate well, only to falter in the end. This is strikingly similar to the Colts' modus operandi. And again (I am afraid), they will likely succumb to the barely efficient offense putting up just enough points to win, and the resurrected defense of the Eagles. Since their embarrassing loss to Indy a few weeks ago, Philly has came alive on "D".

Andy Reid deserves the "Gut Check Award" for turning this team around. Philly should win this one.


Seattle at Chicago

Will he or won't he? Will Grossman choke? Well, in all fairness here, they only lost three times during the season. But once is enough, here.

The Bears defense should be enough to handle the Seahawks' offense, for the most part. But will Grossman be able to engineer enough offense to win the game? That is the question, pure and simple?

They did hand the Hawks a crushing defeat in their own stadium earlier in the year. That must be Seattle's rallying cry. But they will have to do it at Soldier Field, in front of some of the most rabid football fans anywhere.

I think the Bears should win this one, but not by as much as the last time.


New England at San Diego

Marty Schottenheimer is one of the better coaches. He can take a lackluster/pitiful team and turn them into decent competitive winners. But historically, he's been a "my way or the highway" kind of guy. (See: Tom Coughlin) And that doesn't translate well in the big games. But this year, Marty has eased up some. His players and the fans convinced him to let the players have the freedom to make their adjustments as they see fit. Bottom line here is, no more "Marty Ball". Attack, attack, attack. Don't just get the lead and go conservative.

And they have dominated the regular season in the toughest conference.

Put this with the Pats' experience in these big games, and you have the makings of what could be, the best game of the weekend. But, NE has been a tad bit on the inconsistent side, this season. Whoever wins this one will be depend on which NE team shows up. The flawless Patriots of old that won the big one three out of four years, or the careless, "no more drive because they have already won three titles", team.

If the last team shows up, I give it to SD.

UPDATE:

Indianapolis 15 Baltimore 6

The Colts did what they had to do. The defense shut down McNair and company, and the offense scored enough to pull it out.

Throughout the week, the Indy media was playing all of the Raven smack talking sound bites. The Colts are soft, Addai was going to feel pain, and so forth. But in the end, it was the Ravens that felt the pain. The Colts were hitting every bit as hard as the Ravens, on both sides of the ball.

I also was able to hear the Baltimore fan sound bites about how the Colts were going to pay dearly for leaving their city, over 20 years ago. It's amazing how long people can hold a grudge. But even more amazing to me is, Baltimore got their team by stealing the Cleveland Browns. How hypocritical is that?

UPDATE:

New Orleans 27 Philadelphia 24

Both teams showed that they belonged in the playoffs, but only one showed they may have a chance to make it to the Super Bowl, since the conference is so weak. New Orleans tried to shoot themselves in the foot, but the Eagles weren't exactly a ball of fire at the end (when the game was still on the line), either.

Brees has the Saints clicking offensively, thanks to having the confidence of his coach. I bet that when he is alone and to himself with just his thoughts, he visualizes beating the Chargers in the Super Bowl. But the real story is the way the Saints defense made the stops and the plays, when they needed to.

It was a fun game to watch.


UPDATE:

Chicago 27 Seattle 24

Well, it wasn't as easy as the last time, but the Bears pulled it out in OT. The defenses down the stretch played very well.

I do not know what more Grossman could have done to get the Bear receivers to catch the football. Several times the throw was good or good enough to catch. They have to make these kinds of plays in the playoffs.

But a win's a win. They'll take it. It's certainly a heartbreaking loss for the Seahawks.


UPDATE:

New England 24 San Diego 21

NE showed why they belong in the conference championship. The experience factor at this level is hard to overcome.

Being a Colts fan, I would not be tickled about playing either of these teams, But if I have to choose, I would choose the Pats, because the Colts know them and they get them at home. Also, I believe that the Colts' run defense would have had a much more difficult time handling him, than either Maroney or Dillon. But that's not to say that either of those two will be easy to contain.

Despite NE's experience in the big games, they did show some weaknesses that the Colts would be better able to exploit. But all in all, this was a very hard fought game. This is one that it's a shame either team had to lose.

As a post-game note, I hated to see LT act like a poor loser. There will be other seasons, with other opportunities to play for a title. There is no need to act like a spoiled brat.

8 comments:

All_I_Can_Stands said...

I thought I heard they were going to start Bob Griese instead of Grossman. The Bears may have a chance. Go Bears!

LASunsett said...

AICS,

I haven't heard that. Last I knew, Grossman is starting. But Smith will probably not hesitate to tap Brian Griese, should Grossman fail to produce.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

Yeah Bears! Yes, a win is a win and I will take it. Toward the end I was trying to psych myself up by thinking about the time I would not have to waste next game if the Bears lost. I guess I will have to waste a few more hours.

Thanks for the correction on Brian. Not sure where I got Bob. I heard wrong about him starting I guess. Probably an armchair coach on talk radio.

LASunsett said...

AICS,

//I guess I will have to waste a few more hours.//

I am sure you'll make the necessary sacrifices. ;)

Greg said...

A Colts fan? Man, I'm sorry to hear that. I'm already starting to feel sorry for Peyton Manning, the most over-rated athelete of all time, and simulataneously the biggest choke artist in professional sports history.

LASunsett said...

Greg,

//I'm sorry to hear that. I'm already starting to feel sorry for Peyton Manning, the most over-rated athelete of all time, and simulataneously the biggest choke artist in professional sports history.//

Choke artist? Can't argue with you there. But do not kid yourself, the guy is an athlete.

Greg said...

Peyton Manning is truly an unbelievable quarterback. In the regular season. He's Tony Eason in the playoffs.

This is it for Peyton. He's got the AFC championship game at home, vs. the #4 seed, a team that just had a brutal slugfest on the west coast. His defense is playing better than ever. He has all the tools he needs. His team is better than the Patriots, and the Patriots have several key injuries. If he can't win it all this year, he will never win it.

LASunsett said...

Greg

//He's Tony Eason in the playoffs.//

Or Drew Bledsoe.

//This is it for Peyton. He's got the AFC championship game at home, vs. the #4 seed,//

Shows just how good this AFC is.

//If he can't win it all this year, he will never win it.//

The defense has to step up again. They have to take the pressure off of the offense, so maybe they will play looser and better. I saw the Patriot receivers as vulnerable. Dillon and Maroney are good, but not the same quality as Larry Johnson or LT. The Colt defense is very healthy right now, except for Mike Doss. Sanders is to this team, what Ray lewis is to his. The whole unit has been born again, hard.

They will decide the game, not Manning. But whatever he can generate, will be gravy. NE's defense is still pretty good, as is evidenced by them keeping the team in the game, Sunday. I was very impressed with their secondary, they looked much better than earlier in the season. Bruschi seems to have lost a small step, but still is in on a lot of plays.

But you are probably right, if the Colts can't win this one, one has to wonder if they ever will.