For football fans, 2006 has started off with an astronomical bang. The Bowl Championship Series was not only the best of recent memory, but the best series of college bowl games I have ever seen.
From the athletic plays of Ted Ginn Jr. and the Ohio State Buckeyes to the incredible blown kick battle between Penn State and Florida State and, of course, the classic battle between Southern California and Texas, the action was simply scintillating.
Just when you think the football season can’t get any better, you realize the NFL playoffs are in full swing. Unless, of course, you’re a member or fan of the Chargers, Raiders or 49ers, then you’re simply watching for the love of the sport. Fortunately, I loathe all three teams.
Wildcard weekend was less than amusing with an absolute dominance by veteran quarterbacks over rookie quarterbacks. Which time and time again will prove to be a determining factor; a factor that will continue from this weekend.
The divisional playoff round kicks off with an NFC battle matching up the Washington Redskins with the Seattle Seahawks. Shaun Alexander and the Seahawks are coming in as 10-point favorites and are expected to run all over Lavar Arrington and the Redskins defense.
However, the Redskins have the defense to stop the high-flying Seahawks offense, and Joe Gibbs is one of the best playoff coaches in history, which was shown last weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There is one glaring difference that Seattle has to love, Chris Simms isn’t behind their center and the Redskins offense can’t move the ball. Seahawks win 24-13.
The Saturday night game is set to possibly be the most exciting game of the weekend and easily the most hyped. The rematch between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos has much storyline as the Broncos defeated the defending champion, the Patriots, 28-20 in the regular season.
This however is a different Patriots team than the Broncos faced in week 6. With Richard Seymour and Corey Dillon back the Broncos can expect the Patriots to bring it. I’m not betting against Tom Brady any time soon. My money is on New England and another Adam Vinatieri game-winning field goal.
Sunday morning showcases Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts and Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not much to say here as this one should be over in the third quarter.
Bill Cowher is one of my favorite coaches, but year in and year out he’s only good for one playoff win. The Colts will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2006 playoffs and there is no way it’s one and done for them this year.
The final game of the weekend promises to be an exciting one as the Carolina Panthers will face the Chicago Bears. I expect this one to be a low-scoring battle that will be won in the trenches.
The Panthers boast the best defensive line in football with Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker causing havoc at the defensive end positions. This game should be exciting, but expect Jake Delhomme and his offense to outduel Rex Grossman and his offense in a 13-6 victory putting the Carolina Panthers in the NFC title game for the second time in three years.
Whether I’m right or wrong, expect me to come firing back next week with my Conference Championship predictions and possibly some ranting on why Reggie Bush is overrated.