Romo still has an opportunity to become a great
quarterback, but come this off-season, he might
want to work on how to hold on to a football.
Romos muff cost the Cowboys
a shot at advancing to round two of the playoffs
and a date with the Chicago Bears. Instead, it
will be the Seahawks who get that chance. Seattle
trailed for most of the second half but received
the biggest gift imaginable. Seattle won the game
21-20 but failed to cover the two-point spread.
The other fantastic finish
came on Sunday when Philadelphia kicker David
Akers booted home the game-winning field goal
as time expired, lifting the Eagles past the Giants,
23-20. Once again, the home team won but couldn't
Both teams struggled at times,
especially against the run. The G-Men had no answer
for Brian Westbrook, who rushed for 141 yards.
New Yorks inept run defense was true to form,
especially on the last drive of the game. The
Giants had just tied the score at 20 on an Eli
Manning 11-yard TD pass, and all they had to do
was prevent Philly from getting into David Akers
Unfortunately, that was easier
said than done, as Westbrook broke off runs of
11, 5, 5 and 13 to go along with a couple of short
Jeff Garcia passes. All of a sudden, the Eagles
were at the Giants' 19-yard-line with less than
two minutes left. Besides driving down the field
with relative ease, Philadelphias rushing attack
chewed up the final five minutes, giving New York
zero chance to mount another comeback.
The Eagles have a couple
of question marks heading into their next game
with New Orleans. Cornerback Lito Sheppard dislocated
his elbow late in the fourth quarter and will
miss the game. Also, Phillys run defense played
just as poorly as New Yorks and allowed Tiki Barber
to rush for 137 yards and a 5.3 average. Barber,
in his last NFL game, dominated the right side
of the Eagles defense, which is something Andy
Reid and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson have
to be aware of heading into New Orleans.
AFC WILD CARD GAMES
The other two first-round
match-ups were blowouts, although both the Jets
and the Chiefs had their opportunities. New York
only trailed by a touchdown late in the third
quarter, but a critical failed lateral pass by
Chad Pennington sucked out all its momentum. The
Patriots outscored the Jets, 17-3, the rest of
the way to win, 37-16.
Kansas City was outgained
435 total yards to 126, but somehow only trailed
Indianapolis, 9-0, at the half. Peyton Manning
characteristically threw three picks, continuing
his postseason troubles. If the Chiefs had any
offensive ability whatsoever, this game could
have gone the exact opposite.
Despite the three picks,
Manning misfired on only five other passes and
chewed up the middle of the field, dumping the
ball off to Dallas Clark at will. Its highly unlikely
the Manning-to-Clark combo will be as effective
against the Ravens, the best defensive team in
DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF HISTORY
For the first time since
the NFL realigned from six divisions to eight,
no wild card team was able to defeat a division
winner in the first week of postseason play. That
happened in two of the four games last year and
three times in 04.
With that in mind, lets take
a look at the last 10 years of the divisional
playoff round. Overall, the teams that had a week
off have combined for a 31-9 SU record, but only
22-16-2 ATS. The NFC teams with a bye enjoyed
greater success than the AFC, winning 17 of 20
games while going 13-6-1 ATS. The AFC was 14-6
and ended up below .500 ATS at 9-10-1.
Number-one-seeded teams finished
16-4 SU and 13-7 ATS, but once again, the NFC
out-performed the AFC. Top-seeded teams from the
National Football Conference were an outstanding
10-0 SU and 9-1 ATS, with the only non-cover coming
in 2003 when Philadelphia was favored over Green
Bay by five and only won by three.
The top-seeds in the AFC
won only 60% of their games (6-4) and once again
finished below .500 ATS at 4-6. Its interesting
to note that the two-seeds from the AFC actually
have a better SU and ATS record, going 8-2 SU
and 5-4-1 ATS. The two-seeds in the NFC fail in
comparison to the top seed, having gone 7-3 SU
and 4-5-1 ATS.
How have things changed for
the teams that had a week off since the league
went to eight divisions? The NFC teams, which
had an 11-1 SU and 8-3-1 ATS record the six years
prior, stumbled a bit with a 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS
mark. The AFC clubs also saw their fortunes drop.
From 1996-2001, the squads with a bye finished
8-4 SU and 6-5-1 ATS but fell to 5-3 SU and 3-5
ATS the last four years.
THIS WEEKENDS GAMES
The Saints already disposed
of the Eagles at the Superdome, but that contest
was under totally different circumstances. Donovan
McNabb was under center and Philadelphia was coming
off an emotional home win over Terrell Owens and
the Cowboys. In fact, the Eagles were favored
in that game but are a five-point underdogs here,
despite winning their last six.
Playing their first home
playoff game since 2000 surely will provide a
lot of emotion for the Saints, but in terms of
postseason history and success, one has to lean
to the Eagles and the points. Remember, the number-two
seed in the NFC is below .500 when it comes to
the spread in the last 10 years.
Take Philadelphia plus
The other Saturday game pits
Indianapolis at Baltimore. The Colts are 1-3 SU
and ATS in road playoff games under Tony Dungy.
They have also failed to win their last four contests
away from home this season, losing to the likes
of Houston and Tennessee.
Facing Kansas City is one
thing, but going up against Baltimore is another.
The Ravens allowed only 64 points in their final
seven games. An incredible number, considering
it spans almost half the season. For all the talk
last year of how great Chicagos defense was, Baltimore
actually gave up one less point this year than
the Bears did last season.
The Ravens will be able to
contain Indys offensive attack and put up just
enough points to get the victory.
Go with Baltimore minus
the points and the UNDER.
Like the Saints-Eagles game,
Sundays NFC match-up is another rematch as the
Bears host the Seahawks.
Back on October 1, Chicago
demolished Seattle, 37-6, but Shaun Alexander
was not in the lineup. Seattles running backs
combined for a mere 58 yards on 18 carries.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for
68 yards in the first quarter, but a pair of second-
quarter interceptions paved the way for 10 Chicago
points and the game was over before halftime.
Can this contest go any different for the Seahawks?
Not if they continue to play the way they did
The Bears offense has been
a thing of beauty the past month as Rex Grossman
threw five TDs with zero picks in the three games
prior to the last regular season contest. The
OVER/UNDER line for this game is very low, considering
the Bears have gone over the total in 10 of their
last 13 games.
Take the OVER as the
main play along with Chicago minus the points.
New England travels to San
Diego for the last of the four games. One thought
that I have trouble getting out of my head is
how right at home the Jets looked facing the Patriots
last week. In fact, throughout the first half,
it seemed as if New York was controlling the play
and should have been the team leading at halftime.
True, the Pats have been
on fire since Miami shut them out one month ago,
but San Diego has been waiting patiently for its
time to shine and that will come this Sunday.
The result won't be as bad as the last time these
two teams met, a 41-17 San Diego win in Foxboro,
but it will be a double-digit win nonetheless.
The Chargers have won 10
in a row and have scored 20 points or more in
every game but one this season. They also have
not lost at home. It is true New England rarely
loses on the road (7-1), but the Patriots also
played seven of those eight games vs. non-playoff
Go with San Diego minus
Posted by MySportsbook January
12th, 2006, at 11:12 AM ET
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