By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
NFL Picks: Divisional Playoff Games
NEW HAVEN, Ct.
Seattle’s last hope…….
NEW HAVEN, Ct.— Some quick observations following last week’s wild card weekend.
The old NFC West rivals meet for the first time in the playoffs. Back on September 19, the Falcons outrushed St. Louis 242-30 – with Michael Vick running for 109 yards – in a 34-17 victory. For the second week in a row, the Rams will face an NFL top-10 rushing attack. They held Seattle to 71 yards on the ground in the Wild Card. The Falcons, who’ll have T.J. Duckett back in the lineup, finished No. 1 in the league in rushing. But the reason why I think Atlanta will win is because of their defense, which led the NFL in sacks. The Dirty Birds are arguably the best defense that’s still playing this weekend.
While some media folks were so “shocked” by Moss’ antics, Daunte Culpepper’s performance (284 passing yards and 4 TD passes) got pushed to the back burner. Back on September 20, the Eagles sacked Culpepper four times while Donovan McNabb threw two TDs and ran for another in a 27-16 Monday Night win. The Eagles will try the same blitzing tactics Sunday. They finished second (47.0) in the league to Atlanta (48.0) in sacks this year. The one thing Philly didn’t have last year at this time was a healthy Brian Westbrook. Will it offset the absence of TO? It might not have to. The Eagles will win because despite last week’s win, the Vikings’ D is still way too suspect for me to trust in a big game.
For the third time in a calendar year, the Colts travel to New England to take on the Patriots — and hope for a different outcome. In the AFC title game last January 18, the Pats intercepted Peyton Manning four times for a 24-14 win. Then in the ’04 season opener, three Colts turnovers and Tom Brady’s 335 passing yards and three TDs did in Indy again, 27-24. Manning is 0-6 in Foxboro in his career with a 59.6 passer rating. What the Yankees are to Pedro Martinez, Bill Belichick is to the NFL’s MVP. However, the loss of defensive backs Ty Law and Tyrone Poole have definitely left New England secondary very vunerable. But the big question is: Can Indy stop a very motivated Corey Dillon? Me thinks not. If there’s any justice, this game ends like the previous meeting — a missed field goal by Colts’ kicker and deiplomat Mike Vanderjagt.