Welcome my fantasy brethren to a special edition of The Playoff Prognosticator. May it be your Hope Diamond. This is where the article stops every year. I’ve enjoyed having each and everyone of you. It has been my pleasure to do this column for you – as much as I could. You are truly a special audience, I thank you for the constant encouragement.
#6 Kansas City Chiefs at #3 Indianapolis Colts
I know the world thinks the Colts will be fine here but think about Larry Johnson heads up against the Colts run stop D? That is as scary a match up as I think I have ever seen. Peyton Manning vs. the Chiefs secondary? Please? Equally as scary. LJ racks up the yards, of that there is no doubt but unfortunately for them, Trent Green, a decent guy, is going to throw the game away for the Chiefs.
The Colts will light up the Chiefs secondary on their home fake grass and apart from the annoying repetitive TD runs of Larry Johnson, will handle this with relative ease.
Prediction: Colts 28 – Chiefs 20
#5 New York Jets at #4 New England Patriots
I don’t care about the master/grass-hopper relationship Bill Belicheck and Eric Mangini have. Not even a little. Do not care. Please don’t talk about it. Talk about the tough football the Jets have been playing lately. Talk about the Jets clubbing the Patriots in Foxboro already this season. Talk about Chad Pennington as comeback player of the year. There’s a lot to talk about with these Jets.
Both teams are going to be fairly evenly matched though. The difference for the Patriots will be that they will do a better job of stopping the run and will win the turnover battle by at least 2. Being home at Gillette for a Patriots playoff game “doesn’t suck” either.
No real fantasy numbers in this contest, stay clear of the lot of them if in playoff leagues.
Prediction: Patriots 30 – Jets 20
#5 Dallas Cowboys at #4 Seattle Seahawks
The Cowboys are a talented bunch but don’t know how to play together. This will not be a Bill Parcells led team next season as the Terrell Owens signing, and the way that shook out, will not cause him to be fired since he will flat-out quit the team. They have a very good shot in this game but..
Shaun Alexander is going to have a little something to say about who moves on and who doesn’t. One wonders if Deion Branch is a playoffs receiver, doesn’t one?
Prediction: Seahawks 28 – Cowboys 27
#6 New York Giants at #3 Philadelphia Eagles
Yeah .. OK. The Giants score first, the Eagles dominate the remainder. Look for solid stats from the Eagles but particularly from their passing game. Big doings going on up there. Brian Westbrook is going to spin the dials on his fantasy total.
Prediction: Eagles 31 – Giants 20
#3 Indianapolis Colts at #2 Baltimore Ravens
This playoff season is going to be an absolute blast. The ones that are forecasting a Ravens/Bears snore-a-thon are going to be pleasantly surprised with this years match-up. This game starts the string of some dream match-ups and some great pre-game hype. The Colts at Ravens is more a fine wine than a football game.
The Colts however are going to struggle against the Ravens in just too many ways for them to walk away victorious. Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes will both be disappointments as they muster next to nothing against the Ravens. The pressure on Peyton Manning to perform pass after pass will take its toll as well. When the Ravens run the ball with that brutish offensive line against the svelte Colts D, that is just a little too much for the Defense to handle. Look for them to be spent by the 4th quarter as the Ravens kick it into auto-pilot.
Prediction: Ravens 30 – Colts 21
#4 New England Patriots at #1 San Diego Chargers
I have to put this game in the dream match-up category as well. The 3X team of the decade (albeit at the tail end) vs. this years #1 on the block. The old experienced ex-#1 vs. the very talented but not as experienced new #1, it’s going to be good.
The Patriots are going to struggle picking up the pass rush of the Chargers which will cause some uncharacteristic errant throws by Tom Brady. They will also have trouble getting Laurence Maroney going with the speed of the Chargers Linebackers, which will have a negative effect on the Patriots getting into scoring range consistently.
The Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson are going to make the Patriots wish they had a strong Strong Safety like Rodney Harrison. Without someone like Harrison the Chargers will prove they deserve to have the title, New #1.
Prediction: Chargers 31 – Patriots 24
#4 Seattle Seahawks at #1 Chicago Bears
Da Bears. How the Seahawks are going to stop Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, I don’t know. The Seahawks offense will challenge the Bears D but the Bears D will win its share of the battles. Look for the Bears to take control fairly early in this and never relinquish it.
Prediction: Bears 33 – Seahawks 23
#3 Philadelphia Eagles at #2 New Orleans Saints
Brian Westbrook will continue his fantasy march through the playoffs as he racks up another nice one. But the Eagles don’t have something. They have no prayer. The Saints offense will simply run through and pass over the Eagles D almost like it wasn’t even there. Reggie Bush looks impressive as does Drew Brees.
Prediction: Saints 30 – Eagles 21
AFC Conference Championship
#2 Baltimore Ravens at #1 San Diego Chargers
Another dream match up. One of the two best defenses in football, the Ravens (the other is the Bears) make it to the Conference Championship and that is no coincidence. Defense really does win championships (you listening Colts). In this case the Ravens will almost completely shut down the Chargers offense, though you never stop LaDainian Tomlinson completely. Philip Rivers will not handle the Ravens D well and will be a non-factor.
The Ravens will run a little, pass a little and be OK doing it but the Chargers at home will make the most of their opportunities in a fantastically played game. One not to miss this playoff season.
Prediction: Chargers 28 – Ravens 23
NFC Conference Championship
#2 New Orleans Saints at #1 Chicago Bears
The Bears can be tough to run on side to side with the speed of Brian Urlacher and he will reduce Reggie Bush‘s effectiveness. No one can stop Drew Brees though, not even the Bears and the Saints will exercise the Bears secondary plenty in this conference championship.
The Bears will try to keep the ball out of Rex Grossman’s hands and into Thomas Jones‘s hands as their playoff strategy is to establish the run and play solid D. Even they know they can’t put the game in Rex Grossman’s hands.
The Saints advance to the Super Bowl in a tight, very entertaining game to cap two outstanding conference championship games. I can’t wait for this playoff season now that I know it’s shaping up like this!
Prediction: Saints 28 – Bears 27
Super Bowl XLI
San Diego Chargers vs. New Orleans Saints
The fact that the Saints make the Super Bowl after the home season opener and the circumstances surrounding the year they had last year is poetic. It’s the kind of story that is told and retold for years. If they win the game, possibly decades. Most of America will want the Saints to win, just for the people of New Orleans. The media would also love to see it shake out that way as the industry will gain millions and millions from the outcome if the Saints win.
Unfortunately for them, the Chargers will win Super Bowl LXI on the legs of LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson establishes his dominance as THE player in the NFL and THE player in fantasy football. He was already the likely #1 pick in your 2007 draft. After this playoff run, there will be LaDainian Tomlinson and everybody else in 2007.
Prediction: Chargers 28 – Saints 24
An early congratulations to the San Diego Chargers for winning Super Bowl XLI!