Another season of the NFL has come to and end, and the playoff lines have been drawn for this weekend.
AFC Bye Teams
New England Patriots (16-0)
Indianapolis Colts (13-3)
NFC Bye Teams
Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
Green Bay Packers (13-3)
AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
After losing to the New England Patriots, and getting humbled on national television, the Steelers' Anthony Smith couldn't keep his mouth shut once again and made another guarantee. This time he guaranteed that the Steelers would see the Patriots again in the playoffs. Too bad he didn't think about the other teams in the AFC that might have a slight objection to that statement. If there was any team willing to go toe to toe, smash mouth football with the Steelers it would be the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has a running back advantage over its opponents. The Steelers lost their starter Willie Parker (No. 2 rusher in the league) to a broken leg, and will be going with Najeh Davenport. Davenport is no slouch, but he isn't Parker either. The Jags have RB Fred Taylor (No. 14 in the league) who lives to plow guys down, as he did three weeks ago when he ate up 147 yards of real estate. The Jags are a tough team, and should be the team to send the Steelers packing.
NFC: Washington Redskins (9-7) at Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
The Redskins are playing on emotion, and made the playoffs because of it. But, these are the playoffs, and I can't see QB Todd Collins having a decent day in Seattle. I’m looking for a balanced attack from the Seahawks for the win.
AFC: Tennessee Titans (10-6) at San Diego Chargers (11-5)
There is some bad blood here between these two teams, but after the injury to QB Vince Young of the Titans (game time decision) and the emergence of WR Chris Chambers as a long threat for the Chargers, the scales tip in their favor. I'm looking for the Chargers to have the biggest win margin this weekend.
Winner: San Diego
NFC: NY Giants (10-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Last weekend the real Eli Manning finally showed up in the fourth quarter, and let the best team in the NFL off the ropes to finish their quest for perfection. In my opinion, the Giants need this win to save head coach Tom Coughlin's job, and Eli needs this win to come into his own as a leader for this team. But, he's so inconsistent, and without TE Jeremy Shockey, the Giants will have to count on TE Kevin Boss to pick up the slack once again, and they will need to run the ball to win. I'm expecting the Bucs to grind this out in a close one. However, shades of 1996/1997 come to mind when the Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan sat his starters for week 17, and went into the bye thinking the long lapse will do the team good. Instead, Denver came out flat, and they lost in an upset to the Jacksonville Jaguars that year. The Bucs have been resting since week 16, but it will be up to coach Jon Gruden to get them ready.
Winner: Tampa Bay