Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wrapping up the NFL Regular Season

Well, as should be obvious, I am absolutely ecstatic with how the end of the regular season went for the Redskins. Finishing on a four-game winning streak have made the Skins an NFC version of the Jacksonville Jaguars: i.e the team nobody wants to face right now.

And when I started bragging via text message once Todd Collins hit Santana Moss to make the score 27-3, some people (cough cough Graham) shot back with texts along the lines of "You guys don't deserve to be in the playoffs, you lost to (insert one of the Skins numerous disappointing collapses this season). Well, guess what? At 5-7 and coping with the funeral of Sean Taylor, this team somehow, someway came together and strung together four impressive wins over some quality competition.

It started with a 24-16 win over the Bears, where the phenomenon that is Todd Collins came in virtually unprepared after Jason Campbell went down with a kneecap injury. Then the wind game at Giants Stadium, where the Skins physically dominated New York, 22-10. Following that was the showdown last week in Minnesota, in a must win situation, the Skins came out blazing to 25-0 lead and cruised thanks in large part to the play of Collins and a heady challenge by Joe Gibbs. And now, today, a manhandling of a Dallas team that, in all fairness, rested some starters. Still, unlike the Titans, who barely squeezed out a victory over a Peyton-less (for the most part) Colts team, the Skins allowed little doubt to remain over who deserved the last playoff spot in the NFC.

Todd Collins could probably get away with a lot of different felonies in the DC area if he chose to commit any.

Kudos have to go to Joe Gibbs, who has once again proven why he is a Hall of Fame coach. Call me a homer, but I don't think any other coach could have led a team that has gone through this much adversity to the playoffs. Simply put, the guy is a leader of men who inspires faith in everyone. There were grumblings that it might be time for the legend to step down, but I think this little run showed everyone that Coach Joe has a little left in the tank. I'd be remiss not to acknowledge the great play of Todd Collins, who has stepped in and played better than Jason Campbell. Make no bones about it, Collins has earned the right to start against Seattle whether Campbell is ready to play or not. I'd have Campbell as the backup, ready to come in if Collins is a disaster come Saturday. We'll get into the defense in later posts, but they have played remarkable all season, but have been downright dominant as of late.

It's onto Seattle now, where I do have my doubts as to whether the Skins can keep this going. The Seahawks have a quality offense with a lot of veteran players who flat out know how to win playoff games. And they are tough to beat at home, boasting a 7-1 record at Qwest field this season. We'll have to see and obviously there will be more as we come closer to the weekend.

Qwest Field is not a fun place to play for visitors.

More NFL Thoughts

Pats Complete Regular Season Perfection
I watched the entire Giants-Pats game on Saturday night, and there was never a point in time where I worried about the Patriots losing. I guess that's what happens when you have Tom Brady at quarterback. He's the clear cut choice for MVP this season, and seems to be able to dissect just about any defense imaginable. You can talk about all the uber talented players on that team (Moss, Welker, Maroney, Stallworth, Watson, Seymour, Samuel, Bruschi, Thomas, etc..) but none of it matters without Brady behind center. I was not one of the people cheering for the Giants because I really want a team to dethrone those pompous 1972 Miami Dolphin jackasses. I'm sick of hearing about how they root against all the unbeatens, and Tom Brady is a Michigan man so I have to respect that. That being said, I'm sticking with my Colts pick from about a month ago. We'll have to wait and see who the Pats play

Browns Miss Out on Playoffs
I had a lot of trouble watching the Sunday night matchup between the Titans and Colts because I really wanted to see the Browns make the playoffs. Yet I had to cringe as the Colts didn't play most of their big timers in crunch time. Even though Tennessee played the Chargers to overtime just two weeks ago, I think the Browns had a much better shot at advancing. I really liked their nucleus of Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, Kellen Winslow and of course, Braylon. It's unfortunate the one time Anderson decided to play like dog shit was last week against the Bengals. Cleveland did still finish 10-6, a lot better than anyone could have imagined after watching that opening season debacle against Pittsburgh. They likely saved Romeo Crenel's job for the time being, too.

Poor Braylon. He had a sick nasty year, though.

Pittsburgh and Jacksonville Rematch
I watched a majority of this game a couple weeks ago, and I'm still not sold on Jacksonville winning in the playoffs, even if all the analysts say otherwise. Everyone is overlooking the fact that the Jags really don't have any players that have had significant success in the postseason. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is littered with players with winning playoff experience. This game is going to be an absolute dogfight, and despite the Steelers limping into the game, my gut is making me lean towards the Steelers. I think Pittsburgh can load up on the run, leaving its corners on an island. And the Jags one true weakness is at wide receiver, where they don't have a true playmaker.

Here's What I'm Thinking Prediction-Wise
As a disclaimer, these may change as the week goes on and I stumble on various facts about the game. But here's what I'm guessing in the immediate aftermath of the season:

Giants over Bucs
Steelers over Jags
Chargers over Titans

I will not be picking Skins games because I hate picking against them, even if my gut feeling tells me to.

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