Thursday, January 12, 2006


NFL Conference Semi-Final Predictions

3 of 4 last weekend. I only missed Cincy, but who knows what the result would have been had Carson Palmer not blown out his knee. Let's look to this weekend:

Washington at Seattle: Mark Brunell's line from last Saturday's game at Tampa: 7-15, 41 yds., 0 TD, 1 INT QB Rating: 25.7. Clinton Portis' line from the same game: 16 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD. Those are UGLY numbers. The defense carried the day, and the Skins' season was likely saved by Edell Shepherd's horrible drop in the dying seconds. The D will need to do the job again, but this time they are facing an experienced quarterback and a runner (Shawn Alexander) who has a nose for the endzone. Some people I've listened to/read this week say that Washington will give the Hawks fits this week. I don't think so. 23-10 Seattle.

New England at Denver: If the New England team that showed up for the first half of the Jacksonville game is what goes on the field in Denver, Mike Shanahan will dance a jig. If the second half version shows up, it's going to be a very long day. The Pats were way off their rhythm in the first half of the Jags game and still went to the locker room leading 7-3. Against Denver, they'd be facing at least a 10-point deficit. New England needs their A-game all game against Denver, who have definitely got something to prove this week. It's going to be very close, and will probably go to OT, but I think the Pats will prevail.New England 24-21.

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis: How is it possible the Steelers went to the locker room losing 17-14 to a team with JON KITNA at QB? Sure, they won 31-17, but CNN-SI's Dr. Z, in his column, notes an interesting fact that the Steelers offense (particularly the running game) gets better as the game goes on. That implies to me that, if you get a big lead early, the Steelers have a hard time playing catch-up. It's also worth noting that the Steeler's second TD was off a trick play immediately following a shanked punt. They won't get those opportunities against Indy, who will be rested and healthy and, most importantly, seriously motivated. I think Indy goes to the locker room up by at least two TD's and then just outlasts the Steelers in the second half. Colts 31-17

Carolina at Chicago: During the post game show after Carolina's man-handling of the Giants, Chris Berman cracked that the over-under for this game should be 9.5. I might take the under. This is going to be a slow, plodding, smashmouth defensive battle with little-to-no offense. Carolina's chances may well hang on the health of DeShaun Foster, who is listed as probable for Saunday afternoon. That Bear defense is something to behold and they will be swarming all over Jake Delhomme and the rest of the Panther offense all day. This is a game where the winning team will be the one that doesn't waste opportunities to put points on the board, wins the field position battle and keeps the ball longest. I think, based on a gut instinct, that Carolina will find a way to do just that. Carolina 13-10

A lot of sportscasters/writers are making a big thing about the fact that all of this week's matchups happened during the season. Granted, it don't happen often, but so what? The regular season is NOTHING like the playoffs. There might be some lessons learned, but that's all. Should be a great weekend of football.

Back next week with the Conference Finals.