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Jan. 8, 2005

Wild Card Weekend

by Isamu Bae, Page Editor and Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
Wild Card Weekend
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks
New York Jets at San Diego Chargers
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks 4:30 p.m. - ABC
Key Points: For the Rams to win...
  1. Establish a run-first mentality. The Seahawks' problems have stemmed largely from their inept run defense for the past few years and with DE Grant Wistrom and DT Marcus Tubbs out, the Hawks' line looks awfully vulnerable. The Rams are gifted with two extraordinarily talented RBs in Marshall Faulk and Stephen Jackson. If Mike Martz wants to get off of the hot seat, he will have to use those ground weapons and not become too enamoured with his mistake-prone air attack.
  2. Cut down on the mistakes. In 14 games, QB Marc Bulger threw 21 touchdowns- a respectable total. However he also has thrown 14 interceptions, lost four fumbles and been sacked 41 times. The 17th ranked defense will not be able to make up for these errors against an explosive Seahawks' offense, so Bulger will have to make smarter decisions to prevent the ball from going into the opponent's hands- particularly in the end zone or at their own side of the field.
  3. Stop Shaun Alexander. While the Seahawks have a potentially lethal air attack, the struggles of a confidence-losing Matt Hasselbeck and the reason for his waning confidence, the slippery hands of his receivers (other than Jerry Rice), have placed an emphasis on RB Shaun Alexander. The Rams had the 29th worst run defense in the league in the regular season. Against an elite, versatile back like Alexander, the Rams must clamp down, or he will make them pay dearly.
  1. Maintain a consistent passing attack. The Rams' offensive front has been ravaged all season by injuries, which has led to an inconsistent run game and more pressure than Marc Bulger was used to facing. If the Rams can establish the passing game early and often, they should be able to control the tempo against a weak Seahawk's secondary and also won't have to run the ball at Seattle's strong linebacker corps.
  2. Contain Shaun Alexander. Seahawks' running back Shaun Alexander shredded the Rams' defense during the two regular season meetings between the teams, rushing for 326 yards in those two games. The Rams are going to need to play ball control here and as such need to stop Alexander from having a phenomenal game. If they can keep Alexander's yards to a minimum on first and second down, they'll force the overrated Matt Hasselbeck to throw to his inconsistent receivers, which is definitely a good thing (for the Rams).
  1. Get an early lead. The Rams don?'t really have the best run defense in the world and things won't get better if they get behind. By getting ahead, the Rams can force the Seahawks to attack the strength of their defense, the secondary. Besides that, the Seahawks wide receivers are not reliable at all, as they are likely to drop the ball about half the time.
  2. Get big plays from the offense. The Rams aren't built to have a consistent, sustained offense, but rather one that gains its yards in large bursts coming off of long throws. They can mix it up a bit with Marshall Faulk and Stephen Jackson coming out of the backfield, but the real weapons on offense for them have always been Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Both of them will have to work hard to beat Ken Lucas and Marcus Trufant, Seattle's excellent pair of cornerbacks.
  3. Contain Shaun Alexander. The disgruntled Seahawks star could very well take out his frustration on the Rams. Keeping him in check will be the quickest way to guarantee a Rams victory. I think that if Alexander is held to less than 100 all-purpose yards, the Rams will have an easy win, but doing that will be very difficult.
Key Points: For the Seahawks to win...
  1. Stop Holt and Bruce. The Seahawks have given up a good 224.4 yards per game in the air against opponents as well as 24 touchdowns. That leaves them in the bottom half of the league. That weakness is especially dangerous against one of the best receiving tandems in the league: Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce. If it is of any consolation for the Hawks, they have only allowed a relatively good 60.8 completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks and have picked off 23 interceptions. However, in one meeting against the Rams, the Hawks' secondary was picked apart by Holt and Bruce in the last few minutes of the game for an astounding rally. That cannot happen again.
  2. Hold onto the ball. No, not fumbles. The receivers need desperately to hold onto the ball?c for a catch. Receivers Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson have tantalized their coaches with amazing talent, but also have given them heartaches for their dropped passes. The addition of Jerry Rice has helped boost Hasselbeck's confidence a bit and Darrell Jackson has, despite his drops, managed to top 1000 yards receiving. The X-Factor will be Koren Robinson. Perhaps the most athletically gifted of the Hawks' receivers, K-Rob has hardly played this season due to a steroid suspension and a variety of team policy violations. K-Rob, incidentally, also happens to be the biggest repeat offender of dropping the ball.
  1. Catch the darn ball. The Seahawk's receivers, Koren Robinson in particular, have struggled all season to do what they are paid for: receive. With the Rams' sights set on the run game, Hasselbeck will probably be forced into more passing situations, which means that his receivers will need to make catches. This is certainly the first step toward victory.
  2. Put pressure on Bulger. If the Seahawks can rattle Bulger early in the game, Martz will have no choice but to try to grind it out on the ground, where Seattle stands a much better chance. Well, in the sense that at least Bulger won't be torching them through the air for 17 quick points, like in the fourth quarter of the first meeting between these teams.
  1. Limit the big plays. If the Seahawks want to win, they must stop the Rams from getting off their big plays. The Rams are a very mistake prone team so long; consistent drives are just about impossible for them. Ken Lucas and Marcus Trufant will play a large part in stopping the rams and they better be on top of their game as they get set to face one of the most dangerous wide receivers pairs in the NFL.
  2. Run Alexander, Run!After the recent spat with the head coach and entering into the final season of his contract, it seems apparent that Shaun Alexander no longer wants to remain in Seattle and that the Seahawks don't want him either. But the fact remains that he is still playing for them now and a large part of whether or not they win this game will be decided by Alexander's production.
  3. Maintain their focus. What with the media pouncing on the mercurial temperament of their star running back, the rest of the Seahawks must maintain focus on the game, because the Seahawks don't have the talent to simply overwhelm the Rams.
Key Matchups
  1. CB Marcus Trufant, CB Ken Lucas, FS Ken Hamlin vs. WR Tory Holt, WR Isaac Bruce
  2. RB Shaun Alexander vs. Rams defense led by OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers 8 p.m. - ABC
Key Points: For the Jets to win...
  1. Run, run and keep running. With NFL rushing leader Curtis Martin in tow, the Jets must focus their offensive attack on winning yards on the ground. The job will not be easy, as the Jets face up against the number three run defense. Despite Chad Pennington's monster contract, old-man C-Mart is the way to go for the Jets to control the clock and keep the game away from the high-octane offense of San Diego.
  2. Stuff Tomlinson. Ironically, the Jets themselves have a good run defense, spearheaded by All-Pro RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson is no longer the one-man show of 2003-2004, but he is no less dangerous. In fact, because he played relatively less due to a strained groin in the middle of the season, LT is actually somewhat fresh, making the versatile back a threat to be reckoned with. Just solid run defense is not enough to stop LT, who racked up 100 catches just last season. Despite the emergence of QB Drew Brees and TE Antonio Gates, LT is still the lynchpin to the Chargers' offense. Shutting him down is a must. (Teams are 2-0 against the Chargers if they can slow down LT this year).
  3. Follow through in the end zone. The Jets have gone through some great drives this season?c only to see them end in a field goal. Suffice it to say, very few teams can score on the power of field goals alone and the Jets are not one of them. QB Chad Pennington has absolutely failed to live up to his hype this season, both in terms of getting touchdowns and in getting huge passing plays to either get a touchdown or get them close. The Jets will not be able to win a second time against the Chargers if they keep up their lethargic red zone play.
  1. Control the ball. When the Jets won a close 34-28 game against the Chargers nearly three months ago, they held the ball for nearly 37 minutes. With a back like Curtis Martin, this is not as difficult as it might have otherwise seemed. They had better hope that Martin meets the same success on the ground and that he doesn't fumble. If they can't hold it, they'll probably be folding the game.
  2. Force turnovers. The Jets' defense does not match up very well against the well balanced offensive attack of the Chargers; while their run defense is above average, their pass defense is lackluster. And if you think LaDanian Tomlinson is only dangerous as a rusher, boy are you ever wrong. The Jets need to hope for a lucky fumble here, a pick there, if they're to stand a chance (especially if John Abraham sits).
  1. Stop the Brees. San Diego's quarterback, Drew Brees is having a career year and he has been tearing up defenses left and right. The Jets defense must keep the game close because the Jets do not have an offense capable of erasing a large deficit.
  2. Contain Antonio Gates. The former basketball power forward turned to football tight end has already garnered comparisons to the Chiefs Tony Gonzalez. He also broke the record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 12 on the year. If the Jets don't stop him, they'll be headed back to the Meadowlands.
  3. Stop LaDanian Tomlinson. He may be having an off year this season, but even then, he's still a ridiculously talented back and the Jets need to make sure he doesn't bust off a huge play.
Key Points: For the Chargers to win...
  1. Don't be over-excited about a playoff berth. Being their first playoff birth in ages, it is of no surprise that the Chargers would be excited, especially with home field. The problem is, that could very well be a trap. The Chargers must continue to feel hungry, realizing that just because they have reached the playoffs, everything will turn out right. Their defense must remain opportunistic, their offensive line must keep up their surprising success in the trenches and coach Schottenheimer must keep his cool. Yes, we're talking about his losing playoff record here.
  2. Keep the offense charged. Led by Comeback Player of the Year Drew Brees, Single-Season TE TD record-holder Antonio Gates and perhaps the best RB in the league in LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers have turned themselves into the third highest scoring team in the league. Yes, higher than Minnesota, higher than Green Bay and higher than Philadelphia. Gates and LT continue to pose matchup problems for opposing defenses and they'll need to continue their efforts. WRs Keenan McCardell, Eric Parker and Kassim Osgood need to begin making an impact on the field in a big way to give Brees a reliable deep target.
  3. Don't hold the receivers. The Chargers are among league leaders in pass interference and illegal contact calls. A lot of it can be attributed to top CB Quentin Jammer. Against a team like the Jets, giving up free yards can be deadly, even if they have trouble scoring inside the red zone. The last thing the Chargers need is to be called on pass interference in the end zone- an equivalent of a free touchdown.
  1. Physical dominance. Yards on the ground are going to be hard-fought against the Jets, even for the Superman-esque Tomlinson. The defense also needs to play tough, especially against the run. If the Chargers can set the physical tempo early, their superior offensive attack and solid 3-4 defense should win the day.
  2. Drew Brees. Sportscasters really can't say enough about how amazing it is that Drew Brees turned it around as much and as quickly as he did. Drew Brees has engineered 24 touchdowns this season, many of them to sudden standout Antonio Gates, while throwing only five interceptions. However, two of those came against the Jets. While not necessarily a reason to panic, it's certainly something to be aware of.
  1. Stop Curtis Martin. The NFL's leading rusher has been very consistent this season having one of the best seasons of his long and distinguished career, albeit very quietly. If the Chargers let him run well, then the slow and methodical Jets offense will wear down and eventually overwhelm their defense.
  2. Fluster Pennington Pennington is one of the most accurate passers in the league, mainly because he has a great offensive line that lets him take the time to put his throws on the mark. Against the Patriots, however, we saw the other side of Pennington, only a second-year starter still learning the game and prone to costly mistakes. The Chargers should try to attack Pennington and force him to make bad throws.
Key Matchups
  1. RB Curtis Martin vs. Chargers defense led by ILB Donnie Edwards
  2. TE Antonio Gates vs. Jets defense led by ILB Jonathan Vilma

Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts 1 p.m. - CBS
Key Points: For the Broncos to win...
  1. Slow down Manning. It goes without saying, but the Broncos need to slow down the number one ranked offense. How do you do that? Only the Patriots really managed to do that and that was way back in the first week of the season. The Broncos added shutdown CB Champ Bailey after the debacle that was last year's 41-10 loss to the Colts and the true test of their progress will be this game.
  2. Give a heavy dose of Broncos style offense. The Colts defense has been famously bad. Well, they've had their share of glory with timely stops, but the fact remains that their defense is just bad. For the Broncos to have any sort of chance in the game, the running game will have to succeed and for two reasons. First, the Colts are not exactly your best run stuffing team, being 24th. That means the famously effective Broncos running game absolutely must continue to tire out the Colts defenders or the game is a loss from the get-go. Second, teams that have beaten the Colts (and they are far and between) have controlled the clock. The most effective way to do that is to keep the running game churning. The best way to keep the offense from scoring is to keep them off the field.
  3. Keep an eye on all of the Colts weapons, if it is possible. You hear a lot of the exploits of WRs Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley. You do not hear a lot about the dangers posed by TEs Marcus Pollard and Dallas Clark, along with the great play of 1500 yard rusher Edgerrin James and his effectiveness in the passing game. Keeping an eye on every weapon is nearly impossible, but severely limiting the contributions of as many as possible is necessary. A good part of that starts with stopping Edge. Teams have often given up run defense to take away Manning, but that has turned into running sprees by Edge. Not surprisingly, that tactic did not work- the Colts still churned the most points.
  1. Clamp down on the Colts' receivers. Champ Bailey and John Lynch must find a way to cover the Colts' Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley. This has proved to be among the most difficult tasks in the NFL this season, but if the Broncos can't find a way to do it this game (like they didn't last week), then they'll be heading home early.
  2. Work the ground game. The tandem of Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell should get the brunt of the work against the Colts, whose defense is uniformly lacking. Running the ball does three important things: it eats clock, tires out the defense and keeps the ball out of the mistake and panic-prone hands of Jake "The Bad” Plummer. Those things are important.
  1. Stop Peyton Manning. It goes without saying that this is the number one key to winning against the Colts, but it's one thing to say it and quite another to do it. I really think that the best way to stop Manning isn't by blitzing him or by playing zone because he is smart enough and comfortable enough in the offensive system to simply pick the defense apart. What the Broncos have to do is to play man defense and use the safeties to cover over the top. The linebackers need to be prepared to attack the run, blitz or drop into coverage, seemingly at random, in an attempt to confuse Manning. Even if all of this is done perfectly, I don't see the Broncos limiting the Colts to less than 24 points.
  2. Unleash the "Snake" Jake "the Snake" Plummer is always at his most dangerous when he is a threat to run and to pass. Mike Shannahan should implement lots of rollouts to get Plummer a dual option on each play to either run or pass. The rollout will also help to limit the effectiveness of Indianapolis' star defensive end, Dwight Freeney.
Key Points: For the Colts to win...
  1. Stay sharp. As hungry as the Colts, and Manning, may be, very few teams are as hungry as the Denver Broncos. After last season's lopsided playoff game, the Broncos ended up as a laughing stock for not changing their game plan very much after their victory over the Colts just before the playoffs. That means this season, they are out for blood. It's easy for the Colts to just brush off the Broncos as "same ol', same ol'" but that could very well lead to a quick exit from the playoffs.
  2. Pound away with the Edge. The key to the Colts is actually offensive balance. As great as Manning is, it is hard to believe the Colts would be this effective without Edgerrin James. That said, there's no point in just keeping such a game-breaking athlete on blocking duties for most of the game, much like Mike Martz did with Marshall Faulk. Subconsciously or consciously, the Broncos' first priority will be to slow down Manning and prevent a repeat of last season. That means the running lanes could be a lot looser than normal for Edge. Coach Tony Dungy absolutely must continue to take advantage of that.
  3. Turn up with key defensive victories. As bad as the Colts' defense has been as a whole, they are surprisingly among league leaders in terms of takeaways with 36. That will be the key against the erratic play of Broncos' quarterback Jake Plummer. NFL scouts have often described Plummer as capable of throwing three touchdowns one quarter and three interceptions the next. The Colts will have to grab those opportunities for big plays, as they most likely will come.
  1. Play Peyton Manning. I figure as long as Manning's in the game, not much can go wrong for the Colts. So they should definitely play him.
  2. Apply pressure in the backfield. Whether Plummer hands it to the running backs or decides to take matters into his own hands, the Colts would do well to be there with them. This hasn't proven to be much of a problem for a one Dwight Freeney, and the rest of the defensive line/linebacker corps should follow suit.
  1. Spread the ball. Indianapolis is always at its most dangerous when Manning gets just about every receiver involved. When that happens, the defense can't lock in on one guy and stop him, but rather has to concentrate on everybody. Very few teams have the defense necessary to keep up with the Colts and the Broncos are not one of them.
  2. Run Edge run! James has quietly put together a 1548 yard season with nine touchdowns. Manning and his wide receivers get all of the credit for Indy's explosive offense, but "Edge has a lot to do with it as well. After getting a lead, Tony Dungy should simply put Manning on the bench and keep handing the ball of to James. I doubt anyone on the Broncos will be able to stop him, especially with the awesome offensive line that James has assembled in front of him.
Key Matchups
  1. CB Champ Bailey, CB Kelly Herndon, FS John Lynch, SS Kenoy Kennedy vs. WR Marvin Harrison, WR Reggie Wayne, WR Brandon Stokley
  2. Colts defense led by OLB Cato June vs. RB Reuben Droughns, RB Tatum Bell

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers 4:30 p.m. - FOX
Key Points: For the Vikings to win...
  1. Don't choke. As simple as it may sound, it obviously hasn't been very simple for the Vikings. The Vikings can almost be named "Chokings" because of how dramatic of a fade they do in the second half of the season. To top it off, the Vikings blew a lead to the Packers in essentially the NFC North title game.
  2. Stop something, anything on defense. Not surprisingly, the culprit for the Vikings' failures to win games is almost directly attributable to a horrible defense. LBs Donterrius Thomas and EJ Henderson are experiencing the growing pains of second year players, the secondary has been torched despite the addition of shut-down CB Antoine Winfield (the injury to Corey Chavous does not help them). That being said, the Vikings should take a page out of the Chargers' playbook: come up with a play when it counts.
  3. Create pressure on Favre. Led by Pro-Bowl DT Kevin Williams, the Vikings have some serious talent at their defensive line. That being said, the unit has somewhat underachieved this season. Despite the presence of Williams and the addition of rookie DE Kenechi Udeze, the Vikings have somehow managed to generate relatively little pressure with their front four. That's not good, considering their lack of experience at the second level of defense. Against a quarterback like Favre and a tailback like Ahman Green, the front four is going to have to lift their play to another level?c if they can somehow manage that after failing for the most part in the regular season.
  1. Throw the ball downfield. If the Vikings are to win, they'll need to make big plays down the field, not chip away with their paltry run game and throw short slants that gain three or so yards a play. Coach Tice should send the receivers deep and count on Randy Moss or Marcus Robinson to make athletic leaping catches.
  2. Establish a pass rush. The Vikings defense will need to dig deep to muster any sort of pass rush, but if they don't manage to pressure Favre, the game is all but over. They'll need to find ways to force Favre out of the pocket, because it's when Favre's out of his comfort zone that big turnovers or sacks happen, not behind Green Bay's stellar offensive line.
  1. Randy, Randy, Randy. Randy Moss is just about the only player on the Vikings who is absolutely clutch. He always steps up his game a notch during the playoffs and almost singlehandedly got them into the playoffs last week against Washington. If anyone has seen the touchdown catch he made (over Sean Taylor, no less) they'll know what I mean. To have an offensive duo like Daunte Culpepper and Moss incites jealousy from just about everyone, except for maybe the Colts.
  2. Stop #4! Brett Favre is about as close to a god as you can get to in the football world nowadays, especially on Lambeau field in the playoffs. The Vikings must stop him from willing the Packers to a win. How? Maybe by playing a little defense! I find it pitiful that the Vikings gave up 21 points to the Redskins, come on?cthey didn't even have Portis!
Key Points: For the Packers to win...
  1. Attack the secondary. Aside from CB Antoine Winfield, the scariest thing on the secondary was S Corey Chavous, who led the league in interceptions last season. Guess what, Favre, how about a little late Christmas Present: Chavous is out with a broken elbow. That means the Vikings' secondary is ripe for the picking. That is, if they weren't already. The Packers have an array of weapons in the receiving corps led by standout WR Javon Walker. A shootout with the Vikings is inevitable, so the Packers will have to keep gunning the ball deep.
  2. Get Ahman past the front four. With the Vikings' dearth of experience at linebacker, RB Ahman Green can wreak some serious havoc- if he can get there. The Vikings' defensive line has done a commendable job stopping the run, and it will be up to the Packers' offensive line to get Ahman Green into the midst of the linebackers more often.
  3. Protect the ball. Aided by some untimely fumbles by Ahman Green and their defense's inability to take the ball, the Packers had the sixth worst turnover differential with -14. In a shootout, that is never a good thing. Costly fumbles by Green must be avoided (although with the Vikings' defense, which forced just 11 turnovers, it is pretty doubtful) to win a shootout. Oh yeah, and a good Favre (not the four picks in a game one) needs to show up. Then again, we ARE talking about the Vikings' defense.
  1. Cover Randy Moss. If the Packers can cover the Vikings' big play receiver, then Culpepper will have to find other ways to move the ball. Double teaming isn't a bad idea; in fact, it's a really good one. If the Pack can prevent the big play, they should little to no problem with the Vikings.
  2. Keep it close. As long as the Pack can keep the score manageable, they can continue with their normal game plan. If they get down by a couple of scores early and switch to panic mode, with Favre playing something like a 2-minute drill each drive, then the Vikings will probably get a turnover or two. Plus, if it's close at the end of the game, we know what kicker Ryan Longwell can do to correct that.
  1. Quadruple cover Randy Moss. I joke not. If that's what it takes to stop him, you might as well. Last week Nate Burleson dropped a wide open catch that would have given him a huge touchdown, whereas Moss did some weird acrobatic rolling dive and came up with an impossible catch. You cannot let Randy Moss get even a step because Culpepper and Moss have such great chemistry with each other that before you know it, six points will be going up on the scoreboard
  2. Cause Culpepper to regain his fumbleitis. Culpepper is approximately 6'4", 260 pounds. To put that into perspective, he is roughly two of me, plus about ten pounds (I'm 125). He is a big man, but unfortunately, he seems to have butterfingers or something. He is one of the quarterbacks most prone to fumbling the football in the whole league. I guess its because he's big enough to keep fighting whoever's got him wrapped up and by that time, some quick thinking safety has poked the ball out. Anyway, that is exactly what the Packers must do. Blitz early, and often, even though you might get burned in the hopes that you can get the ball back.
Key Matchups
  1. Packers offensive line led by RG Marco Rivera and LT Chad Clifton vs. Viking's D-Line led by DT Kevin Williams and DE Kenechi Udeze
  2. WR Randy Moss, WR Nate Burleson, WR Marcus Robinson vs. CB Al Harris, CB Ahmad Carroll, FS Darren Sharper

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  • John Madden on January 8, 2005 at 12:59 PM
    Horrible pix Mr. Bae!
  • verify on January 8, 2005 at 1:20 PM
    verify yo facts...the Jets Chargers is at 8 PM ET not 8.5 PM, chekk yo'self b4 you rekk yo'self
  • post it on January 8, 2005 at 3:26 PM
    y'all better post my comments, cuz i know you made my changes
  • Nick Falgout (View Email) on January 8, 2005 at 5:47 PM
    For my own personal amusement, my score predictions:

    Rams 27, Seahawks 17
    Chargers 20, Jets 14
    Colts 35, Broncos 10
    Packers 26, Vikings 20
  • afaf on January 9, 2005 at 9:11 AM
    0 for 2, Mr. Bae...shall we make it 0 for 4
  • Isamu Bae on January 9, 2005 at 3:52 PM
    I'm going for the ofer baby! Woooh!
  • Dr. Z on January 9, 2005 at 4:33 PM
    Isamu Bea has lost all credibility.

    Way to pick the Broncos, buddy.
  • Upset fan on January 9, 2005 at 5:23 PM
    you guys should get out of the mentality of always picking the favorite - just ebcause they have a better record doesn't mean they will win. Look at the Chargers game - NO ONE PICKED NYJ!
    of course if they had won, amazing job

    If one of you picks NE, PITT, Philly and Atlanta next week, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Pick some upsets - do an upset special each week! Come on guys!

  • Isamu Bae on January 9, 2005 at 7:53 PM
    Actually, we don't pick favorites. For the regular season, for instance, I made my picks and THEN added the lines. Unfortunately, it just so happens that we often pick the same teams, or pick the favorites because we see what the line-makers see: an assumed obvious win.

    In my case, I had rather dull reasons for my picks, for instance. I picked the Broncos because I want the Colts to lose, and I figure I might as well go all in (pick them to win, among everything else) if I'm rooting for the Broncos anyways. I picked the Chargers and the Vikings because I thought the Chargers were on too good of a roll to stop (ignoring the Marty Schottenheimer playoff factor) and that the Vikings were too explosive to keep falling like this.

    I'm not even sure who the favorites were for the four games because I never bothered to check...

    Also, none of us really confer with each other prior to making our picks. Maybe the process to picking will be changed next year (that's gonna be up to Pratik and the 06folk).

    And you know what, Dr. Z? I'm gonna pick the Pats next week, too. And even the Jets after that if the Colts somehow manage to get past the Pats and if the Jets somehow overcome the Steelers. DOWN WITH THE COLTS!

    And I failed to go 0-4. I'm ashamed.
  • re: upset fan on January 9, 2005 at 9:45 PM
    Just 'cuz you pick 'em doesn't mean they'll happen.
  • Pratik Bhandari on January 10, 2005 at 11:20 AM
    You'll have to excuse Izzy. A combination of the drugs that he's taking for his broken arm coupled with the utter humiliation of the Tennessee Titans (which is his favorite team) have led to intense hatred towards the Colts (Peyton Manning in particular). Also, since Izzy is a defense-first kind of guy, everytime the Colts score is kinda of like an affront to his manhood or something.
  • hey hey hey on January 10, 2005 at 12:41 PM
    hey this is a good article, but too long to read through everything. Next time have the highlight points much more brief and then go into detail later in the article so that everyone gets the basic gist,
  • upset fan on January 10, 2005 at 2:09 PM
    well you suck because you picked the seahawks. I mean what is that. I mean really. Come on. Seahawks? They haven't won anything in years. Decades! CENTURIES! They totally suck. Period. And you suck for picking them. You ska*k h*e. I mean really - you come out of WILD CARD WEEKEND 1-3? Only person who should be slightly pleased with themselves, at best, is Nick. Way to freaking go. 2-2 .500 record. And you call yourself a football analyst??? I COULD DO BETTER THAN YOU!

    Isamuelkach: Actually, we don't pick favorites.

    Excuse me, SIR!, But it seems as if, ahh, that ahhh, LIED!
    75% of your picks WERE for the favorite. Home teams are the favorites and you guys picked em! I mean really, upset special - I'm looking for two upsets out of each of you this week. No less. Lets see em. If you're a true football analyst you will have an upset in there.

    Patrick - you suck the most. I mean realy - how much thought did you put into those picks? probably everything you have in your brain... which isn't a lot. OH MAYBE I'LL PICK ALL HOME TEAMS. Great. And you're getting credit for this? Come on! My pregnant grandma on crutches could do that.

    At least i'll give Izzy and Nick some credit. They tried. Patreek or whatever, you dont even try. Well, i bet you do, you just suck at it.

    And Izzy - you picked two upsets. Thats worthy. But what in the world were you thinking??? THE BRONCOS!! They're as likely to loose as Jake Plummer is to have some animal living in his beard. VERY LIKELY! So my advice to you. HAVE FAITH! COLTS ARE DA BOMB! But patreekee, you should worship your fellow columnist because he realizes that not every home team will win. In fact, if he had picked all upsets, he wouldve beat both fo you! But he stupidly picked the broncos. Beacuse he sucks. Period. Good luck next week and don't screw up again.
  • Isamu Bae on January 10, 2005 at 5:53 PM
    upset fan:
    So wait a minute. Let me see if I understand you.

    First you complain that we're not picking enough favorites.

    Then you complain that I picked the Seahawks, who I assume were the "favorites" (I'm still not sure who were the favorites in that game) because they haven't won anything in like 20 years or so. Which would actually make them an upset. But the line-makers made them favorites. So what are you going to call that one, a draw?)

    Then you complain about how I picked the Broncos. Over the Colts. I'm supposed to pick upsets... but I'm not supposed to actually pick upsets, I'm just supposed to flip a coin on the close games?

    Two games in the playoffs is 50% of the games. If you're saying pick two upsets... out of four total games, that's like saying pick 7 upsets each week (8 on non-bye weeks). And basically what you're saying is, pick the Cardinals over the Falcons any day because we need upsets.

    I know a lot of the picks end up being "the favorites" but they're the favorites for a reason. Everyone on ABC picked the Chargers, for instance. A football analyst (and we are amateurs doing this for the first or second time) is not going to pick an "upset" for the sole sake of picking an upset, they're going to pick a team to win because the team has a spanking chance at winning, or they see something that could push the team over for a win in close games. I'm sorry you feel annoyed at the general picking of non-upsets, but what are you asking us to do? Pick the Cowboys over the Steelers or something?

    hey hey hey:
    Good point. We did bold text the key points, though. Do you have a suggestion on how we should present the stuff?
  • To: Upset Idiot (View Email) on January 10, 2005 at 10:48 PM
    Ooh, a big man. Posting under his little pseudonym. It's amazing how bold some people become with the shield of anonymity.

    Answer me a quick question: who had the better record, the Seahawks or the Rams? Hm? Who was the "upset pick"? You can't have it both ways, sir. Upsets are just that: UPSETS. As in, MOST PEOPLE ARE EXPECTING THE OTHER TEAM TO WIN.

    Ugh. You sicken me. I wish there was a way to find your IP and ban it from viewing SCO articles, because you are not worthy of reading them.

    How's about this. You post YOUR picks on next week's article, and if you get more right, it STILL WON'T PROVE ANYTHING, because football games are, as determined by the "any given Sunday" proposition, highly susceptile to freak chance and probability. But hey, maybe having more picks right than them will make you think your life has meaning, or something. Go nuts!

    P.S. You clever little name misspellings were HILARIOUS. BOY ARE YOU WITTY!!!!1!1!1!
  • upset fan on January 10, 2005 at 10:49 PM
    So i realize i may have contradicted myself BUT STILL! And I'm sort of just trying to get you to think about all of this. You bring up some good points. I mean I have two complaints - you're not getting it right and when its 50/50 you always pick the favorite. Seahawks-Rams is a close one - But really - how could you go with the seahawks when they lost to the rams twice by 8.5 points average. I 'm slightly surprised 2/3 of you didn't pick them. San Diego - Won 9 out of their last 10 and their last 7 at home in a row. Broncos - What were you thinking! I mean really - if 35-3 didnt' show you something (plus another long drive with a turnover in the red zone) after the first half, DONT PICK THEM NEXT YEAR! History repeats itself, just as it will when Philadelphia won't make it to the super bowl. Again. Vikings - after loosing 4 of their last 5 road games and 4 of their last 5 to end the season, including an ugly season-ending loss to the lowly Redskins, i see where you're coming from. And Brett is what 39-3 at home?? So I understand - I just thought you guys would be better than me. I would've probably gone with Rams, GB for NFC, and Colts SD. I don't really follow NFC too much so hey. But for next week, a little help Every single team has relatively good chance for the upset. NE-IND - banged up secondary vs peytons big passing attack NYJ-PITT - not so much... but Rothlisberger is a rookie - waiting to mess up - they're due for a loss but I dont know about this week PHI-MINN - Hm No TO? 2 losses in a row? bad planning by Andy Ried? Sounds like potential for another disastrous season for Philly & LAST ATL-STL - Atlanta was probably one of the quietest 11-win teams in a good amount of years. Has Mike Vick been the reason? or is it truly a team? St Louis could easily build back to their glory years of Holt and Bruce tearing it up. Very unpredictable team. Be wary! At least one home team WILL loose this weekend! Be the one to pick it Isamu! I'm rooting for you now!!
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