Sunday, January 22, 2006

NFL Playoff Predictions

Well, the conference championship games, anyway. I never did get around to the wild-card or divisionals, but I wouldn't have predicted Pittsburgh or Denver getting this far in the first place.

AFC Championship Game (Steelers at Broncos): On paper, Denver looks unbeatable, especially with one of the stronger home-field advantages in the league. However, the Steelers have one of the better road records, and rather than sounding like they shot their wad with the upset of the year in Indianapolis, they sound motivated and ready in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's season-saving tackle on the Colts' Nick Harper in the final two minutes of the game. Jerome Bettis, likely to retire, gets the opportunity to cap a spectacular career with something other than a momentous fumble. As long as Pittsburgh's pass protection holds, their stifling defense actually makes this one the Donkeys' game to lose. Besides, Mike Shanahan is a Bush-boosting douchebag with one of the dirtiest O-lines in the league. He deserves to lose. Final score: Steelers 27, Donkeys 21.

NFC Championship Game (Panthers at Seahawks): This should be a great one. Seattle, like Denver, looks like a world-beater on paper -- after all, all-world running back Shaun Alexander set the season TD record, and QB Matt Hasselbeck has been a model of efficiency and production. However, the defense let a crap team like Washington hang around for most of the game, and great teams are supposed to punish bad teams. Carolina showed last week in Chicago that they are far from a bad team, and Jake Delhomme's Cardiac Cats are guaranteed to put up some points against a vulnerable Seahawks team that finally got that 20-year playoff whammy off their backs. Final score: Panthers 38, Seahawks 28.

[update: So much for my guarantee on Carolina's ability to put up points. Guess that's why they actually play the games. Should be a great matchup, with a nice backstory on Jerome Bettis.]

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