Yes, the Florida Gators won their second BCS championship with a 24-14 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. The season’s end was of course embroiled in the controversy, for the sixth time in 10 years (I thought the new system was supposed to clear up the confusion not further institutionalize it). There are loud voices of outrage…again.
This time the argument is that the Utah Utes have been robbed of the college championship for the second time (the first time was in 2004). Luckily my preference for the professional game really pays off this time of the year. It is not a bowl committee deciding which single game decides the “best” team, but NFL Playoff tickets that will give a definitive answer.
As a sports fan I love to argue about scenarios, teams, and players, but ultimately I like to have some closure. This weekend four teams will get some closure and four more will get to dream for another week.
The Divisional Playoffs begins with the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans. I watched as the Ravens defense pummeled Chad Pennington last week, but this week I expect the Titans to assert the dominance that gave them a 13-3 season and a first round bye.
Kerry Collins may not be the most explosive quarterback in the league, but the running backs are relentless and have proven themselves against teams with a similarly stingy run defense like the Ravens. Also, Flacco did not look great against a soft pass defense last week. Imagine the hurt the rookie quarterback is going to be feeling at LP Field on Saturday against the even tougher Titans defense.
The NFC game on Saturday brings the Arizona Cardinals to Bank of America Stadium to play the Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals surprised me be beating the Falcons last week, but I cannot see them beating the Panthers. This will not be a blowout though.
Carolina has one of those defenses that bends, but does not break. Well, Kurt Warner and his company of receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and an injured Anquan Boldin) will be able to break that D. However, the Arizona does not actually play defense. Last week was a tease as far as I am concerned and the high scoring offense (seventh in the league at 25.9 points a game) should be able to run all over the front seven at home.
Sunday, after my hangover, I get to watch the Philadelphia Eagles come into Giants Stadium and get stomped by the New York Football Giants. I do not care how much love the city has for Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. The pass rush from Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka is not going to let the veteran quarterback sidestep sacks as easily as the Vikings did.
Also, Westbrook is playing without any practice. If the Eagles had any solid receiving options outside of Westbrook (yes I am aware that they have the sixth best passing average in the NFL) then I would give them a chance. The Giants have simply proven themselves too good when they have Brandon Jacobs in the lineup. The team is 11-2 with him as the feature back and with Derrick Ward and Ahmed Bradshaw healthy this team is simply scary, scarier than the Eagles rush defense.
The final playoff team for next week will be decided by the late game at Heinz Field between the San Diego Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have been winning despite injuries incapacitating their offense. They play at home and Ben Roethlisberger is expected to play despite the concussion back in Week 17 of the season. He still has yet to have a good game since Week 12 versus the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Chargers may only be 9-8, but they are in the midst of a five game winning streak. They have had emotional wins in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos to get into the postseason and against the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts last week. The defense has come alive and the offense is dangerous with the way Philip Rivers.
Still LT is doubtful thanks to a torn tendon, meaning that Darren Sproles will have to have another career-best game to keep the good times rolling. I think that the Chargers simply have too much to overcome (weather, injuries, and the Pittsburgh Steelers historic defense) for them to win.
I was 2-2 last week, so I am far from an expert, but I am pretty confident that I am right here. I still plan to watch each of these games because I really cannot find a bad game in the schedule.