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The 2005 Playoff Prognosticator

Edited 1/8/06: What follows was the original cut at The Playoff Progno, written before the playoffs started.  Day 1 went well as the Patriots handled the Jags with ease and the underdog Redskins dispatched the Bucs as projected.  Sunday did not go so well.  The Giants just didn’t make it happen at home and I know I wasn’t the only one surprised.  I expected a close game but not 0 points.  Congratulations to the Panthers for dominating the Giants Offense.  The bigger hit were the Bengals losing as I had them all the way through the SuperBowl and would take them again if Carson Palmer didn’t go down the first pass of the game (a 66 yard completion I might add which was going to be the start of a huge day.)  With no Carson Palmer, the Bengals didn’t have a prayer.  Even if they managed to luck their way out of the Steelers game they wouldn’t have gone far with Jon Kitna at the helm.  Injuries are part of the game and it’s not something I can predict. 

So I’ve decided to make a quick addendum to The Playoff Progno and project it out the rest of the way after the Palmer injury and Giants fiasco. 

In the AFC the Broncos nip the Patriots in a tough one.  Broncos 27 – Patriots 24 though the Patriots could just as easily win this by the same score.  It is going to be a fantastic football game between two heavy weights.  The Colts handle the Steelers fairly easily with a 31 – 20 slugging. 

In the NFC the Seahawks make quick work of the Redskins with a 33 – 23 beating.  The Bears eek one out against the Panthers with a 17 – 14 win but like the Patriots game, the Panthers could pull the flip on this one too.  It too will be a very tight game.   

In the Conference Championship games it doesn’t really matter who makes it in as the Seahawks and Colts will move on to the SuperBowl, now that Carson Palmer and the Bengals are out of the way!! 

In the AFC it will be Colts 32 – Broncos 25 and even if the Patriots make it in with the Colts, they’ll score about as many as the Broncos.

In the NFC it will be Seahawks 33 – Bears 17.  The Seahawks are the cream in the NFC and again, it doesn’t really matter who they play.  The Seahawks were the original NFC pick and that hasn’t changed.

SuperBowl XL will be won by the Seattle Seahawks as they upend the Colts, 34 – 30.


Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of the Playoff Prognosticator. May it not blow up in my face!

As usual, here at Progno central we take you through the playoffs, soup to nuts projecting the entire tournament, start to finish. It has been eerily accurate over the last 11 years that I have been putting this together. Several times I’ve had the right two teams in the Super Bowl including last year where I had the Patriots beating the Eagles. If I don’t get both teams I have always managed to get one out of the two with the other team just missing and losing the conference championship game. Only once did I not get at least one of the teams as both lost in their conference championship games. Though last year we had the Chargers going all the way to the AFC Championship game where they were projected to lose to the Patriots and the Chargers never got out of the blocks.

In general, it has been a successful run and each year I hold my breath, waiting for this to be the year that the entire thing blows up on me. This could be the year since as per usual, we didn’t take the chickens way out! But more on that in a little bit, this is one scary, freaky, Playoff Progno and I warn you, not for the meek at heart.

I wanted to take the time to thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to read The Progno. It’s been a fun ride this season as I complete my 11th year writing this column and I hope you managed to get a pearl or two out of it. This concludes the 2005 weekly writing season for me. I hope to have you as a patron again next season but if not, I bid thee well and hopefully we part as friends.

Many of you are in playoff pools or in playoff leagues. Here are your best bets for players total stats for the entire playoffs which takes into account how many games they are projected to play and how well they will perform in each. The best players to target, ordered by position this playoff season are:

Quarterback

  1. Carson Palmer, CIN

  2. Matt Hasselbeck, SEA

  3. Peyton Manning, IND

  4. Tom Brady, NE

  5. Eli Manning, NYG

Running Back

  1. Rudi Johnson, CIN

  2. Tiki Barber, NYG

  3. Shaun Alexander, SEA

  4. Clinton Portis, WAS

  5. Corey Dillon, NE

Wide Receiver

  1. Chad Johnson, CIN

  2. Marvin Harrison/Reggie Wayne, IND

  3. The rest bunch up but look at Plaxico Burress, NYG, Darrell Jackson, SEA and David Givens, NE as guys that will turn it on.

Fantasy Forecast Table Key

Hot

Warm

Average

Cool

Frigid


Wild Card Weekend – January 7 and 8


#5 Jacksonville Jaguars at #4 New England Patriots 

 

Team

Rushing

Passing

JAX

84

198

NE

103

237

The Jaguars will put up a fight but the Patriots will look like the better team. The Jaguars will be running into a wall most of the day as the Patriots have been stopping the run like no one else in the league. The Jaguars need to run to establish a rhythm and running will not come easily.

The stars of this contest will be Tom Brady and David Givens as Brady opens the playoffs with a bang. Corey Dillon and David Garrard (if playing) also make decent spot starts.

Spread: Patriots favored by 7 ½.

Total (O/U): 37 Points.

Prediction: Patriots 24 – Jaguars 20

#6 Pittsburgh Steelers at #3 Cincinnati Bengals

 

Team

Rushing

Passing

PIT

105

227

CIN

121

213

Both teams are very familiar with each other and are fairly well matched. The difference will be the play of Rudi Johnson and the aggressive Bengals D. Do not confuse “aggressive” with “good”. They aren’t that good but they are aggressive and they can cause havoc if given the right match up as they have by far the most interceptions in the NFL. A fact not well publicized right now is that the Bengals D is possibly healthier than at any point this season and this will help them in this playoff run.  Marv Lewis is actually a defensive coach having started his career as the linebacker coach for the Steelers before going on to win the 2000 Super Bowl with his Ravens D.  He then brought the Redskins D back to respectability and some of what he did remains today with the Redskins and very indirectly, Marv Lewis had a hand in their appearance in the playoffs this year.  In a nutshell, don’t sell the Bengals D short quite yet.

Each team won on the road in the other guys park during the regular season but the Bengals beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh when they met later in the season. The game the Steelers won was much earlier in the season. The Bengals are the better team and at home, they will get it done. Expect a decent day from Ben Rothlisberger as he plays with great inspiration in the losing effort.

Spread: Steelers favored by 2 ½.

Total (O/U): 46 Points.

Prediction: Bengals 37 – Steelers 20

#5 Carolina Panthers at #4 New York Giants

Team

Rushing

Passing

CAR

123

188

NYG

127

191

The Panthers are rolling but so are the Giants. A lot of the industry watchers like the Panthers this year. It sounds to me so far that an NFL analyst on some station has picked every team in the playoffs at least once to win it all, including the Panthers. The only teams not getting much respect seem to be the Jaguars, Bengals, Giants and Bucs. Listen to me now and hear me later, two of the four teams not getting any respect will be in the Conference Championship games.

The Panthers will feature their running game with DeShaun Foster in line for a nice day at the office. The Giants counter with Tiki Barber and I think we all know where that will lead. The real difference in the game however will be the pass rush the Giants will muster against the Panthers. They will cause havoc for Jake Delhomme and while Jake has played well from an NFL perspective these last few weeks, he is still easily read by a talented defense.

Spread: Giants favored by 2 ½.

Total (O/U): 43.5 Points.

Prediction: Giants 24 – Panthers 18

#6 Washington Redskins at #3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Team

Rushing

Passing

WAS

123

184

TB

100

161

The Redskins are playing some solid football right now and Clinton Portis is the catalyst. The #6 Redskins will upend the #3 seeded Bucs almost with ease. The Buccaneers will make the score closer than the game actually was. Expect a nice day from Clinton Portis and the Redskins D as they smother the Bucs Offense.

Spread: Buccaneers favored by 2 ½.

Total (O/U): 37 Points.

Prediction: Redskins 23 – Buccaneers 20

 


AFC Divisional Playoffs


#4 New England Patriots at #1 Indianapolis Colts

Team

Rushing

Passing

NE

116

242

IND

73

245

And we get the rematch that everyone wanted. The Patriots and the Colts are turning into a Sugar Ray Leonard/Marvin Hagler bout. The Patriots have a real chance in this as Tom Brady will once again light the sky on fire and will look every ounce the playoff QB that everyone knows he is. Start Corey Dillon or Edgerrin James in this? I’m taking Dillon as Edgerrin James is going to have a very quiet playoff run.

Peyton Manning will pick the Patriots secondary apart. He will fillet and deep fry them and that is why the Colts will win this. The Patriots will put up a heck of a fight and will play a heck of a game but Peyton Manning and his receiving group will rip the Pats secondary apart. Again.

Prediction: Colts 30 – Patriots 24

#3 Cincinnati Bengals at #2 Denver Broncos

Team

Rushing

Passing

CIN

116

232

DEN

121

236

This will be a close one as both teams are solid. The Broncos have been playing tough football all season long and have a coach with rings. The fact that many are forgetting is that on the Bengals side, there’s also a ring on their coaches finger. It’s no coincidence in the NFL that most of the playoff teams have a head coach with at least one ring.

Both teams will run effectively and both teams will pass very well as this game turns into a shoot out, which is not what the Broncos want. Given the choice, they will want to grind this out, Bronco style, but the Bengals are going to pressure them early to take them out of their game.

There will be some solid fantasy statistics in this from everyone involved, so get them in your lineup.

When the dust finally settles and the shock kicks in, the Bengals, not the Broncos as everyone will be predicting, will be moving on to the AFC Conference Championship.

Prediction: Bengals 34 – Broncos 28


NFC Divisional Playoffs


#6 Washington Redskins at #1 Seattle Seahawks

Team

Rushing

Passing

WAS

122

183

SEA

121

205

This playoff season is filled with teams that will surprise and are better than the national media is giving them credit for. The #6 Redskins are one of those teams. Against anyone else the Redskins would probably win this game but their seeding guarantees the playoffs run through Seattle and the Seahawks are TOUGH this year. The Redskins will not make it easy for the Seahawks and it will be a smash mouth, beat ’em up type of game as the Redskins slow down the Seahawks offense and the Seahawks repay the favor. While I’d still play all your Seahawks (Shaun Alexander never sits) do not expect big things from any of them. Clinton Portis the only other play and again, the Seahawks have a little bit of an answer for him.

In the end the Seahawks are just too strong over four quarters of football and the #1 seed moves on, beating a very good and underrated #6 Redskins team.

Prediction: Seahawks 33 – Redskins 23

#4 New York Giants at #2 Chicago Bears

Team

Rushing

Passing

NYG

134

206

CHI

127

158

The Giants are another Cinderella story in the run for the Championship. No one will think that they can go far without linebackers and with a shaky Eli Manning at the helm. The Giants still however have a lot of talent in both their offensive and defensive lines and there is that Tiki Barber guy who is clearly on a mission.

The Bears are as good as it gets on defense in these playoffs but they haven’t been error free. The Ravens D of Super Bowl past was dominant all season long and throughout the playoffs, they never collapsed with a bad game because they were the real McCoy. The Bears D is good, very, very good but they’re not the Ravens or the Patriots D of Super Bowl’s past. The Giants will be able to push the Bears on D by keeping them on the field longer than other teams have been able to. The Bears Offense will trot out, go 3 and out and the Bears D will drag themselves back onto the field again for another 3, 4, or 5 first downs, back to another Bears Offense 3 and out etc. Eventually, they will wear down and the Giants will capitalize at the end of the game.

Thomas Jones will run well by default. When you feed someone the ball 30 times they inevitably will have a decent fantasy day.

Surprise! The monsters of the Midway are taken out by Tiki Barber.

Prediction: Giants 23 – Bears 21

 


AFC Conference Championship


#3 Cincinnati Bengals at #1 Indianapolis Colts

Team

Rushing

Passing

CIN

131

237

IND

91

266

Right around now I’m sure we’ll hear the Boomer Esiason’s of the world chime in with how they’re not surprised one bit that the Bengals are where they are. Dan Marino will start the claim that he’s never said one bad thing about Carson Palmer and Chris Collinsworth will of course stake claim to him saying the Bengals were “for real” back in Week 7 which somehow is supposed to translate to him expecting the Bengals to make it into the AFC Championship game.

The Bengals and Colts played once this season and the game turned into a shoot out of epic proportions with the Colts winning the game. That was then and this is now. The Bengals, after making it this far, will start to believe in themselves and their coach and will be very well prepared for the Colts. The Bengals will run and pass seemingly at will on the Colts and they will run up the score very quickly. On the other side, the Colts will have a passing field day of their own. In fact, over the course of the entire 2005 playoffs, the best passing performance will be Peyton Manning in this game.

And herein lies the reason why the Colts have always been playoff darlings and never the champion. The world expects the Colts to win the Super Bowl but let me tell you why they won’t. We have seen this exact Colts team run the table during the regular season just to fall flat in the playoffs. We saw the Colts run the table yet again this season and for some reason, people expect that to spill over into the playoffs when in prior years it hasn’t. Why is that?

Those that have watched Peyton Manning have seen him struggle when pressured. He is not perfect and when rushed, can be forced into making a lot of mistakes. The problem with a playoff Colts team is that Peyton Manning puts too much of the game on himself instead of relying on his team to win the game. This year will be yet another shining example of the Peyton factor. When it’s all on the line, he smothers himself to the point where his team can’t be playoff caliber effective and his pressure related mistakes will be their undoing.

Prediction: Bengals 37 – Colts 34


NFC Conference Championship


#4 New York Giants at #1 Seattle Seahawks

Team

Rushing

Passing

NYG

125

222

SEA

141

207

HA! And you thought I was off my rocker with the Bengals, how about the Giants making it to the NFC Conference Championship? The media and the NFL will be eating this byline up with the prospect of an all Manning Super Bowl. It will be great for the game and the league, and the networks couldn’t ask for a better story than this to run with all week long. Mike Holmgren and the rest of his Seahawks will wonder why the cameras are always on the Giants side as they quickly become the forgotten #1 seed.

Well forget no longer. While the Giants made a strong run at the big dance with Tiki Barber and their defensive line, their lack of true solid linebackers will show unless Antonio Pierce is back at full strength by this game – and even then. Shaun Alexander will be ready to run through the Giants and run through he will.

Prediction: Seahawks 35 – Giants 21


Super Bowl XL


Cincinnati Bengals vs. Seattle Seahawks

Team

Rushing

Passing

CIN

122

228

SEA

120

235

And then there were two. The Bengals bring their high flying point producing offense to Detroit, which is a lot closer to Ohio than Washington. The Seahawks bring their machine of an offense likely well favored.

The Bengals by now believe and they are the AFC representative which from a conference stand point has been head and shoulders the more dominant conference this past decade. The last time the NFC owned the AFC was when the 49’ers and Cowboys were trading off Super Bowl appearances and whomever the AFC team is that makes it to the show, should be well respected because of it.

The Bengals will have great balance as they run with authority and pass well. Rudi Johnson, Carson Palmer, and Chad Johnson will play well. The Bengals will focus on Shaun Alexander, especially after what he did to the Giants, forcing the Seahawks to pass the ball. The league knows that Shaun Alexander can play, so why not take your chances with Matt Hasselbeck instead? Hasselbeck will respond with a fine game and Darrell Jackson will produce. There’s just no stopping the Seahawks but what the Bengals will hope to do is take away their best player then deal with what happens. In other words, if they’re going to fall on a sword they’re going to pick the smaller one.

This will be a last possession wins type game and will be an exciting, back and forth, high-scoring affair, similar to the Patriots and Panthers a couple of years ago. While the Seahawks are one of the better representatives from the NFC that we have seen in a number of years, the Bengals shock the world and walk away Super Bowl XL champions.

You read it here first! And probably last! Bengals in a nail biter!

Prediction: Bengals 35 – Seahawks 34

The Cincinnati Bengals WIN SuperBowl XL!

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