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The NFL Double Take
Wild Card Weekend kicks off on Saturday and our guys break down all four matchups.
Here’s a look at what they’re thinking.
Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks
Mike: The Washington Redskins are the feel-good story of the playoffs, winning four straight games to make it in, even after the death of their safety Sean Taylor. Now, they head to Seattle to play a Seahawks team that has made a habit out of hosting playoff games, and they are tough to beat at Qwest Field. Seattle has struggled in the run game with Shaun Alexander, but he has looked a little better of late and the offense should be more balanced. I believe the Redskins’ Cinderella season comes to an end.
Prediction: Seahawks -3 ½
Cras: Everyone is busy talking about Washington and Jacksonville as the hot teams going into the playoffs but Seattle is flying under the radar after clinching their division in Week 14. In fact, the 10-6 Seahawks could be 12-4 if they had more to play for down the stretch. Running back Shaun Alexander had another down year, rushing for only 716 yards but quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw for 28 touchdowns and almost 4,000 yards. I like Seattle to win this game at home but think it’ll be a tight game.
Prediction: Redskins +3 ½
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike: This is a rematch of a Week 15 game that the Jaguars won 29-22, dominating the Steelers on the ground in their home stadium. If you listen to the so-called experts, they are predicting a Jaguars’ win, and 72% of the bettors at Sportsbook.com like the Jaguars giving two points. The Steelers have been hearing the negative talk and this proud franchise will bring their best effort at home. Ultimately though, the Jaguars are the better overall team and I like them to win by a field goal.
Prediction: Jaguars -2
Cras: The scale is definitely tilted in the Jaguars favor. They’re the hot team, Pittsburgh’s offensive and defensive lines are mangled with injuries and Jacksonville won at Heinz Field last month. Everyone’s screaming Jacksonville in this game and while I agree that the Jaguars have momentum, I can’t seem to bet against the Steelers. They are playing at home, are tough at home in the playoffs and I think they’ll be eager to stuff the run after getting steamrolled by Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew last month.
Prediction: Steelers +2
New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike: The Giants are coming off their hard-fought loss against New England and they paid a heavy price for playing their starters in a meaningless game. Center Shaun O’Hara, linebacker Kawika Mitchell and cornerback Sam Madison were all injured and are questionable for this game. Tampa took the opposite approach and rested a lot of their players the last two weeks after they wrapped up the NFC South. I think that decision comes back to bite them, and the Giants feed off their momentum for a win.
Prediction: Giants +2 ½
Cras: Lots of praise for the New York Giants following last weekend’s hard-fought contest against the New England Patriots. The Giants played hard but in the end, Eli Manning did what he does best and made a mistake to cost his team the game. You knew Eli would break down in the clutch and he did. Now his one good game in forever is behind him and he can get back to his regular, high interception ratio.
Prediction: Buccaneers -2 ½
Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers
Mike: San Diego enters this game having won six in a row and they have plenty of motivation after choking as a number one playoff seed last year. Tennessee slipped into the final playoff spot after Indianapolis treated last week like an exhibition game. The latest news for the Titans is that quarterback Vince Young is fine after his quad injury. This will be Young’s first playoff game and the first for the team since the 2003 season and there are only five players remaining from that team. I’m giving the points.
Prediction: Chargers -9
Cras: San Diego is playing well but they still have issues with quarterback Philip Rivers playing inconsistently. Tennessee played the Chargers tough last month as the game went into overtime. With such a close game just played, I have no idea why there’s such a huge spread in this game and why Tennessee is getting no love at all. I am not a Vince Young fan, but at the same time, I know that the Titans deserve better than a nine-point spread.
Prediction: Titans +9
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