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Down to 11 games left in another great NFL season. Of course, when your favorite team the Dallas Cowboys is 13-3, it's a helluva lot easier to throw around words like great to describe the great spectator spectacle that is pro football. One of the best coupla days in the sports calendar is about to begin.
Wild Card Weekend. 8 teams going at it, winner take all, while division winners New England, Indianapolis, Dallas and Green Bay sit back and take it all in.
In the Saturday games, I like Seattle to win a close game. Think they'll get a fairly big lead early, like 20-7 or 17-3, then do just enough to hold on and beat the Redskins something like 28-24. Matt Hasselback throws for 3 TDs. Just one man's considerably informed opinion.
Saturday night game, Men of Steel hosting division rival Jaguars. Everyone is picking the Jags in this one, based on how both teams played in December, I guess. But I like the Steelers to play one of their best games of the year, which will be just enough to hold off the upstart Jags, one of the more physical teams in the NFL. Big Ben throws for 3 scores, Steelers over Jags, 31-26. Put it in the books.
Tomorrow you get Giants visiting Tampa Bay, and here the bandwagon is all in the direction of the New Jersey Eleven, based in large part on how well the G-Men played in their 38-35 loss to the Patriots -- one of the best games of the season. Let's hope we get even two games that good here in Wild Card Weekend. Here I gotta like the Bucs. Even if I didn't I wouldn't tell you. The Bucs have to be the league's most unknown good team -- with no national TV appearances, if memory serves. But I like them to hold down the Giants offense and do what no team has been able to do: shut down Brandon Jacobs and the rest of the running game. Which will allow them to do what many teams have done recently: force Eli Manning into more than his share of mistakes. Which translates into 3 picks and a lost fumble. Swashbucklers 27, New Jersey Eleven 16, with Gentle Jeff Garcia throwing 3 of his own TD tosses, 2 to Gellin' Joey Galloway.
And finally, San Diego finished at 11-5 after stumbling out of the gate to a 1-3 mark. By anyone's math, that's finishing with a 10-2 mark, which is an achievement even in their watered down division (Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders). They picked off the good Manning 6 times in handing the Colts one of their rare defeats over the last few years. LaDainian Tomlinson led the NFL in rushing with over 1,400 of the quietest yards in NFL history and of course a bunch of TDs -- overshadowed for most of the season by Gentleman Tom Brady, Brave Brett Favre, Terrific Tony Romo and other feel-good stories of the past football season. This game has all the earmarks of the weekend's big blowout. The Chargers have been playing with a chip on their shoulder for the last 12 weeks, and they prove they're a force to be reckoned with in this year's Super Bowl tournament. Meanwhile, the Titans may be better off with Kerry Collins at QB instead of inconsistent Vince Young, but in this one, it's Philip Rolling Rivers chucking for 2 TDs while who else LT runs for 3 in a 38-20 laugher. Titans are still a few WRs short of advancing, and may have a good old fashioned Quarterback Controversy on their hands. Enjoy.