Someone pinch me; I must be dreaming. It's mid-January and the Redskins are a win away from the Conference Championship. I have to admit, this team has far surpassed my expectations going into this season. I had thought it would take Gibbs until his third season to create a bona fide playoff contender, yet here we are in the Divisional Playoff round with an honest shot at beating a team we beat earlier in the regular season, albeit under fortunate circumstances.
Now that we’re here, I feel that nothing is out of our team’s grasp with Coach Gibbs at the helm, and regardless of this weeks’ outcome I am ecstatic over a season where we recorded a sweep of Dallas and Philadelphia and a split with the Giants – leading to a winning divisional record and a wildcard playoff birth. A divisional title, at the very least, will be the benchmark for next season. What a great expectation to have.
Washington at Seattle The Redskins dominated time of possession in the first meeting in early October. If they can do the same this week and limit Alexander’s touches to twenty as they did in October, I like our chances. The offense will obviously have to play better in order to do that and continue to move the chains and convert a high percentage of third downs. The defense, on the other hand, will just need to continue to wreak havoc and create turnovers and hopefully a short field for the offense. The return of Springs is huge, and hopefully he can have a big game against his former club.
Pick – Redskins
New England at Denver Corey Dillon didn’t play in the first meeting during the regular season when the Broncos beat the Patriots in Denver. He’ll split carries this week with Faulk and is starting to whine about his lack of carries. I suspect this will have a negative impact on his effectiveness. It didn’t take long for Dillon to return to his whining ways. Do you think he’s wishing he was back in Cincy? Meanwhile, Tatum Bell had an outstanding day against the Pats in the first meeting. I expect the Broncos to focus on ball control and keeping Brady on the bench.
Pick – Denver
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis Dungy is obviously distracted and rightfully so. Can the Colts flip the switch and get back to the kind of football that led to a 13-0 start? I believe they can and expect a fired up Colt team to win. It’s hard to pick against the Steeler defense and running game, but look for Peyton to have a solid performance against the Steeler secondary, while hopefully not concerning himself with protecting his knees.
Pick – Colts
Carolina at Chicago This is a tough pick, but Fox won’t ‘out-coach’ this years’ coach of the year, Lovie Smith. The return of Bear safety, Mike Brown, ought to be the boost the Bear defense needs to shut down Foster as well as limit Steve Smith’s big play potential. That defense hopes to duplicate its 8-sack performance in their late November defeat of the Panthers. I just have to believe that if the Bears can beat Carolina in week 11 with Orton, they should be able to duplicate that success with a more talented Grossman. Besides, if there was ever such a thing as home-field advantage, playing in January at Soldier Field ought to be it.
Pick – Bears