January 06, 2006

Frinklin Playoff Preview: Sunday

Carolina Panthers (11-5) at New York Giants (11-5)
The erratic Giants host the really erratic Panthers. I’ve never understood the preseason lovefest with Carolina, and I still don’t. You really have two Panther teams. We have the Good Panthers: slugging running game, deep passes to Steve Smith, smothering defense. We also have the Bad Panthers: Jake Delhomme throwing the ball all over the place, Smith getting thrown out of games, DeShaun Foster and Stephen Davis running up the middle for 1.8 yards. That being said, Carolina does have Smith, the single most fearsome weapon in the NFC, an established –if slightly erratic (that word again) quarterback in Delhomme and an excellent secondary led by Ken Lucas. Lucas, you might recall, was run out of Seattle.

Not that I’m still ticked off about that.

The Giants, coached by the very scary human simulacrum called “Tom Coughlin” must hope that Eli Manning spreads the ball around to Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress, and Amani Toomer. I must admit it’s difficult to root against a team so well named. What the hell is a Plaxico anyway?

There is a lot to like about New York, even without considering name quality. Barber had a jaw-dropping season, and could have won the MVP with not much dissension from even the most hardened Seahawk fan. Tight end Jeremy Shockey, despite being a total dick, is a playmaker, and certainly the best TE in the playoffs.

The Giants have two problems. First, Eli completes less than 53% of his passes. So “spreading the ball around” could mean spreading it to various Panthers or empty spots on the field and perhaps the occasional cheerleader. Second, the Giant defense has holes. They don’t have anybody to cover Smith, and if New York doesn’t get pressure on Delhomme, Smith could go crazy in a non-ejected manner. The Giants are also down to open tryouts at linebacker, which could mean that Foster has a solid day.

All this moot though, if Bad Panthers show up. I don’t think they will, even if this on the road.

The Pick: Carolina 28, New York 13

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)

One of the big stories last week was the Patriots and Bengals scrambling to stay away from the third seed in the AFC, due to the big, bad Steelers qualifying sixth. Neither team wanted to face Bill Cowher and Ben Roethisberger and Jerome Bettis (whom I will happy to see retire, if just to stop Chris Berman from slobbering all over him) and the terrible towels. Wait, the Steelers won’t have a home game, forget the towels. Oh, who am I kidding, the towels will terrorize their opponents wherever the game may be.

Oh please.

Why are the Steelers so damned scary? Is it because San Diego yakked all over themselves against the Dolphins, letting Pittsburgh back in the playoff race? Is it because Roethlisberger played like a retarded kid in last year’s playoffs, and now he’s hurt to boot? The conventional wisdom is rushing toward the Steelers so quickly my ears just popped.

Yeah, they beat Cincy at home. The Bengals returned the favor, then lost a fluky game against the Bills and then took the afternoon off against Kansas City. Maybe it’s because I think the world just needs more Chad Johnson. Maybe I’m overlooking Cincinnati’s defensive shortcomings. I just don’t see this Pittsburgh team winning on the road.

The Pick: Cincinnati 31, Pittsburgh 24

Posted by Frinklin at January 6, 2006 10:33 PM | TrackBack
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