NFL Picks: Divisional Playoff Games

By Tony McClean
Updated: January 13, 2005

Seattle's last hope.......
Seattle’s last hope…….

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Some quick observations following last week’s wild card weekend.

— So much for home-field advantage. Indy’s controlled scrimmage vs. the Broncos accounted for the only win by a home team all weekend. Hey, John Lynch! Just how soft do the Colts’ recievers look from your couch?
— Note to Mike Holmgren: Why wasn’t the league’s greatest wide reciever of all-time on the field when you were trying to get the game in overtime? Did you really think Bobby Ingram was a better option than Jerry Rice to catch a very catchable ball thrown by Matt Hasselbeck?
— Considering all the problems in the world (killer tsuanamis, poverty, Armstrong Williams, etc.), do you really consider Randy Moss’ “mooning” as the worst thing that could ever happen in the Western Civilization? All it confirms is that NFL players are the worst dancers in all of professional sports.
— A unnamed source has relayed to me just what Reverend Herm and his assistant were arguing about during their win at San Diego. I wasn’t able to get the entire gist of it, but apparently it was on the lines of “Tastes Great, Less Filling”.
We went 0-for-Saturday (damn rookie kickers!!!!!), but we bounced back with advengance on Sunday. I told you we smelled upset at Lambeau Field and Daunte and the boys delivered. Can they turn the trick this week? Stay tuned.
It definitely was a wild Wild Card Weekend. Passes were flying all over the place. One game went to within eight seconds of double-overtime. Quarterbacks combined for a 105.6 passer rating. A total of 2,493 yards were amassed, the most ever on a playoff weekend. A total of 205 points were scored, the third most on a Wild Card Weekend.
Go to fullsize image JETS at STEELERS
The first of another weekend of regular season rematches opens the divisional round at 4:30 ET at Heinz Field. The Steelers were undefeated at home this year. One of those Pittsburgh wins came back on December 12 when a halfback option pass and a late rushing TD by The Bus broke open a tight contest and clinched a 17-6 win over the Jets. The players and fans of Gang Green rode a season’s worth of emotion in their overtime win at Qualcomm. Will they really have anything left. This will be another close game which will hinge on the two defenses. I gotta go with the Black and Gold in this one.
Pick: Steelers.

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.

Pick: Falcons.



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.

Pick: Eagles


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.

Pick: Patriots.