All Hip-Hop NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview
Happy New Year, and with a New Year comes a new season: the NFL post season. The NFLs post season is the one time of the year when the terminology, win or go home, is at its truest. Theres no best of five, or best of seven series in the NFL. Its one and done. A sweep in the NFL playoffs is not just statistical fact, its a must. If youre going win, youve got to stand out. The question is whos going to stand out in this post season?
Playoff teams always remind me of and up and coming rap artist, theyre hungry. Theyll do whatever it takes to make it, and take any break that comes their way along the journey. For rappers, its that major record deal. For playoff teams, its advancing to the next round.
This weekend, we start the playoffs with the Wild Card match-ups. Some of the games arent the sexiest match-ups on paper, but thats cool. The games will still be just as entertaining as any other playoff game, any other season. The reason why the games will still be entertaining is due to the back stories for the games.
1) Will the Redskins continue to ride that wave of momentum theyve been riding since the passing of Sean Taylor?
2) Can the Seahawks offense continue to rely on the passing game throughout the playoffs?
3) Will the Jaguars two-headed running monster (Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew) continue their onslaught on teams rush defense?
4) Will the Steelers wake up and stop playing the lack luster football they have played in weeks past?
5) Did the G-men hurt themselves in last Saturdays game against the New England Patriots by playing their starters for the entire game and risking both injury and fatigue?
6) Were the Bucs starters on offense and defense rested too much heading into the playoffs? And if so, will it hurt their game play this Sunday?
7) Will Titans QB Vince Young be healthy enough to play this Sunday? And will the Titans defense be prepared to shut down a high powered Charger offense?
8) Are the Chargers players on the same page (especially on offense) and will Norv Turner coach a smart game?
So as Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens would, get you popcorn ready. The playoffs are going to put on a show. Lets pickem.
4:30 pm, NBC
Washington Redskins (9-7) vs. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Location: Qwest Field, Seattle, WA
The Redskins have been a team on a mission since the Thursday Night lost to the Buffalo Bills in Week 13. The Redskins won their last 4 games of the regular season including two big wins in the regular season. A Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings gave them possession of the final Wild Card spot in the NFC and the win against the Cowboys in the final game of the season, secured their playoff spot.
The Seahawks clinched the NFC West and their playoff spot in Week 14. The win against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14, gave the Seahawks their 5th consecutive NFC West title. Five straight divisional titles is nothing to look down your nose at, despite the fact that their in a weak division.
Both of these teams have a secret weapon on their side, their 12th. Man. For the Redskins, its the spirit of their fallen teammate which wills their drive to succeed. For the Seahawks, its the Seahawk faithful and the boisterous confines of Qwest Field.
On offense, the Redskins have to move the ball on the ground against the Seahawks rush defense. They also have to allow QB Todd Collins to execute the play. Collins has done a good job thus far managing the game for the injured Jason Campbell. As long as Collins realize that he doesnt have to win the game by himself and utilizes all of his weapon in the passing game, the Redskins will put some solid numbers on the board.
On defense, the Redskins have to force the Seahawks to run the ball. With Seahawks Head Coach Mike Holgren adjusting the offense to a more pass orientated offense, it shows he doesnt have much trust in RB Shaun Alexander and the beat up run game. The Seahawks rushing offense is ranked 20th in the NFL while the Redskins rush defense is ranked 4th.
The Seahawks have to continue to utilize their passing offense. Its what gotten them this far, and theres no need for them to stray away from it. The Seahawks have the 8th ranked passing offense in the league while the Redskins are ranked 16th against the pass.
On defense, the Seahawks have to go after Todd Collins. Although Collins is a 13-year veteran, he has only played in the post season once, when he was a Buffalo Bill. His post season stats are not the greatest. The Seahawks have to force Collins to make big mistakes for big turnovers.
Although the numbers have the Seahawks as the favorite, the Redskins momentum has carried them into the playoffs. Youll see that word, momentum, on numerous occasions. Not just in this write up, but in other articles throughout the playoffs and youll hear it on T.V. and radio. Thats a major factor for this team, or any team, this of year and it will be a major factor for the Redskins in the win this game against the Seahawks and their 12th. Man.
My Pick: Redskins
Game of the Week:
Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When the Jags and Steelers last met, it was in Week 15 and the Steelers hosted their 2nd Mud Bowl in 3 weeks. The 1st was against the Miami Dolphins in the Monday Night game in Week 12. The Jags won the Week 15 match-up, 29-22, due to the performance of arguably the best rushing duo in the NFL.
The Steelers have been flatter than a can of beer, sitting in the sun, on the hottest day of the summer. They look like a team whos playing not to lose instead of playing to win. The Steelers are doing just enough to win games instead of going out on the field trying to murder kats. Their record for the month of December was 2-3 and their margin of victory was 16 points. Not bad, but as a team you should not head into the postseason dropping games in that fashion. It looks as though youre not focused or prepare to win the championship.
The Jags offense has to continue to grind it out on the ground. Nothing against QB David Garrard, he has done a great job this year managing the game on the field, but the Jags offensive strength is with their rushing offense and thats what they have to roll with in this game and the remainder of the playoffs. On defense, the Jags have to attack QB Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers WRs.
They have to blitz all day long and knock Big Ben Roethlisberger on his Big Ben behind. With RB Willie Parker out of the postseason, Najeh Davenport will continue to carry the ball for the Steelers throughout the playoffs. Without their top RB, the Steelers are one dimensional on offense and will be forced to throw the ball. The Jags have to get to the Steelers WRs, disrupt the routes, and play tight man coverage.
The Steelers offense has to play smart football. They have to stay away from making any dumb mistakes and they should not try to force the play. They also have to protect Roethlisberger in this game so that the offense will have time to run the play and get the ball in the air. On defense, the Steelers need to attack at the line and get in the Jags backfield. That cant allow the Jags time to execute the play when their running the ball. The Steelers have to attack Taylor and Jones-Drew as soon as they touch the ball.
The Steelers may have had the #1 defense in the league this year, but they havent shown it in the past month. The Jags are on a roll and will take it the Steelers in this game the same way they did in Week 15. This will be a good game with a close score, but the Jags will get the win.
My Pick: Jaguars
NY Giants (10-6) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Someone once said that moral victories dont mean anything when you lose the game. I disagree. They do mean something because youve learned something in that loss that will morally and mentally prepare you for the next time youre in a similar situation. The G-men lost their game against the Patriots in the last week of the regular season, but morally and mentally, they showed they can hang with the big dogs.
The Bucs had been playing it safe in the final weeks of the regular season. Head Coach Tom Gruden has rested his starters for the majority of their games in the final weeks, and rust may be a factor in his teams performance. QB Jeff Garcia has stated that hes been out for so long that he maybe a little rusty and stiff. Now, why would you say that to the media right before your playoff game? Especially considering the fact that youre facing the leagues 7th best defense? Well, you can say that when your defense is the 2nd best in the league.
The G-mens offense comes down to two factors. The have to have a balanced offense and it play making abilities of QB Eli Manning. Eli has to play smart this Sunday. He cant allow himself to get rattled and make mistakes. He has to block out any and all distractions, and black out in this game. He has to focus on this game and this game only and channel his 1st half performance from last Saturday. On defense, the Giants need to get after Garcia. Garcia is the key to the Bucs offense. The team thrives on Garcias field management and the Giants have to shut that down immediately.
The Bucs offense has to try to find a way to establish the run. They have to wear down the Giants D-line. If they can work a balanced offense, keep the Giants heads on a swivel on defense. That will give the Bucs the opportunity to throw anything at the Giants defense because they G-men wont know whats coming at them. On defense, the Bucs have to get after Eli. Get in his head and force him to make mistakes. If Eli screws up, then the entire offense will screw up and that will leave the G-men rip for the picking.
The Bucs are rest. Actually, theyre too well rested. The rust factor will show in the Bucs game play. The momentum the G-men have going into this game from last Saturdays game will factor into their performance this Sunday and will guide them to victory.
My Pick: Giants
Tennessee Titans (10-6) vs. San Diego Chargers (11-5)
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
The Titans were on the outside looking in at one point this season when it came to the playoffs. They had a strong lead in the Wild Card chase in the middle of the season until injury on both offense and defense allowed the Cleveland Brown to catch up with them in the standings. It came down to the last game of the season for the Titans to make it to the playoffs. At least they still had some fight in them to achieve their goal.
The Chargers started their season on a rocky road, but with the help of a weak AFC West and the addressing of some key issues on offense and defense, the Chargers won the west and are sitting in the playoffs. Now we have to see if those issues that were addressed will continue to stay addressed.
The Titans defense has to be the key to their success. If the defense is healthy and all hands are on deck, they can shut down the Chargers high powered offense. The titans have to go after QB Philip Rivers and RB LaDainian Tomlinson. The Titans have to get to Rivers to throw off his game and they have to stop L.T. in the back field. The have to hit the Chargers O-line and lay the hammer to them.
On offense, the Titans success will come at the hands of the QB. Vince Young is a game time decision. If he doesnt get the nod, then the ball will be in the hands of Kerry Collins. If young is in the game, you know the Titans will focus on the run, but if Collins is in the game, then the offense will be wide open. Whichever QB starts the game, they have to play smart ball and with that comes smart coaching. The Chargers will throw everything they have at the Titans offense. Jeff Fisher has to coach this game as if it was his last.
The same can be said about Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner. Turner has one postseason appearance on his resume and his record 1-1. That was during his tenure with the Redskins. It doesnt matter what the offense or defense does in this game, it comes down to the coaching. The Chargers have the tools on both sides of the ball on the field; it depends on the decisions that are made on the sidelines that will determine the outcome of the game for the Bolts. If Norv coaches a smart game, the Chargers will this game easily.
This game is really a pickem game. You can go either way with this game. After looking at the numbers, the Chargers are the better team because of their weapons on both sides of the ball and should win this game. But dont sleep on the Titans. They will come into this game, ready to rock. The Chargers will win, but it will be a close win.
My Pick: Chargers