Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ye Nat'l Football Lg Play-Offs Nought Eight

On Sunday, September 9th, 2007, the Philadelphia Inquirer published in Section S an article by Bob Ford entitled "Still the cream of the NFC East," with the byline "Try as they might, division rivals can't catch the Birds." Mr. Ford goes through and picks apart the other teams, then hits us with this:
While the Birds have their own issues - McNabb's health and mobility, the defense's occassional lack of cohesion - you wouldn't trade places with any other team in the East.

Guessing right now, you can start the Eagles with a 5-1 record against the division and let them play the rest of the schedule for playoff seeding.

* * *

A lot can still go wrong, but a lot can go wrong for the other teams, too. At the moment, though, the division is where it always seems to have been under the current administration - with the Eagles ahead and the others playing catch-up.
The Eagles were 2-4 against the NFC East this year. They finished last in the division at 8-8, behind Dallas at 13-3 (division winners and owners of home field advantage throughout the playoffs), New York at 10-6 (wild card) and Washington at 9-7 (also a wild card).

Don't get me wrong, I've been way wrong on predictions before (as we shall see with my playoff predictions), but I also don't make a living doing this. Ford was way off base, and a little digging may indicate that Eagles' fans and supporters are living a lie. Philadelphia did finish 10-6 in 2006 to win the division (but were 5-6 with McNabb), but they also finished 6-10 to finish last in 2005. In the past three seasons, the New York Giants have made the playoffs all three times, Dallas and Washington twice, and Philadelphia once. Cream of the NFC East? Sounds more like the worst team in the division.

Now, on to teams that actually made the playoffs (which includes every team in the NFC East except the Eagles).

11-5 Jaguars (3-2 last 5, 5-3 road) at 10-6 Steelers (2-3 last 5, 7-1 home)
10-6 Titans (4-1, 5-3) at 11-5 Chargers (5-0, 7-1)
10-6 Giants (3-2, 7-1) at 9-7 Bucs (2-3, 6-2)
9-7 Redskins (4-1, 4-4) at 10-6 Seahawks (3-2, 7-1)

The Steelers are without Willie Parker, but I think he's a little overrated. I wouldn't put him in the top ten RB in the league. Fred Taylor, meanwhile, has had a pretty decent season. You would expect that Ben Roethlesberger gets the edge at QB, but David Garrand in 12 games has 18 TDs and 3 INT. I think this will be a close game, but I'll pick Jacksonville. And just to make sure I can't be too accurate, I'll pick the score to be 24-21.

I'm picking the Chargers because of LaDainian Tomlinson. Toss in a healthy Antonio Gates at tight end and the fact Tennessee's #1 receiver Roydell Williams broke his ankle this week, and it's hard to see Vince Young leading the Titans over San Diego. Final score? Let's say 35-20.

Usually fans like to support their own team, but I know just how bad the Giants can be. However, Brandon Jacobs combined with Ahmad Bradshaw and Rueben Droughns provide a convincing ground attack, and the Giants defense can be very tough to get past. Tampa Bay has a good defense (I'm saying this without looking at any stats), and their receivers are definitely competent, but Jeff Garcia has been seriously banged up. He beat the Giants last year in round 1 with the Eagles, but I'm not sure he can repeat. As long as Eli Manning doesn't throw the ball at people's shins or into the chests of defenders, the Giants can win. Let's say 31-27.

The Redskins have made a pretty good run, but the Seahawks are tough at home. Shaun Alexander? Pretty good RB. Matt Hasselbeck? Not bad. Clinton Portis? Okay RB. Jason Campbell? Eh. Give it to Seattle, 17-10.

I can't wait to see how off my non-scientific picks were!

Addendum -
Brady is the first Patriot selected NFL MVP. He drew 49 of the 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, the only three-time MVP, got the other vote.
Really? Favre over Brady?

Favre - 66.5% comp, 4,155 yds, 28 TD, 15 INT, 95.7 Rating
Brady - 68.9% comp, 4,806 yds, 50 TD, 8 INT, 117.2 Rating

I wonder if that one voter is in Wisconsin.

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