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NFL Play-off's - Wild Card


Well-Known Member
Aug 17, 2001
Dirty Money
Tennessee (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6)
Dallas (10-6) at Carolina (11-5)
Seattle (10-6) at Green Bay (10-6)
Denver (10-6) at Indianapolis (12-4)

I like the Cowboys chances in Carolina. :D

Dec. 29, 2003
By Pete Prisco
SportsLine.com Senior Writer

Normally in this column, we take a look back. But with the playoff field set and 12 teams still alive in the quest for a ring, we'll take a look ahead -- which the Minnesota Vikings wish they sure could do.

The Vikings lost a playoff spot Sunday in the cruelest way imaginable, the pain akin to getting a needle stuck in your sinus cavity. All the Vikings needed was to win and they were in. Leading Arizona by 11 with four minutes to go, it appeared they were on their way to the postseason.

Shaun Alexander and the Seahawks get in thanks to a Saints victory. (AP)
Instead, the Cardinals scored a touchdown, got an onsides kick, and then scored the winning touchdown on a fourth-and-24 play with no time left on the clock when a quarterback named Josh McCown tossed a 28-yard scoring strike to a receiver named Nathan Poole for an 18-17 victory. The play was reviewed, but the officials properly ruled it a touchdown.

Minnesota went from division champs to out of the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers won the NFC North, based on a better division record than the Vikings.

Minnesota went from a 6-0 start to out of the playoffs. It might be a good idea to stay clear of owner Red McCombs and Randy Moss, who isn't exactly warm and fuzzy after losses.

So that leaves the NFC playoff field, in order, as this: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Carolina, Green Bay, Seattle and Dallas. In the AFC, it's: New England, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Tennessee and Denver.

The first-round games are Dallas at Carolina and Seattle at Green Bay in the NFC and Denver at Indianapolis and Tennessee at Baltimore in the AFC. Philadelphia and St. Louis get the first-round byes in the NFC, with New England and Kansas City getting the byes in the AFC.

Here's a look at the four games in next week's Wild-card weekend:

Tennessee (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6)

These two teams hate each other, but the Ravens have the edge, having won five consecutive games against Tennessee.

The Titans have struggled offensively against Baltimore, averaging 12.5 points in the past five games. But Steve McNair is expected to play against the Ravens, which is a necessity. If he's close to being 100 percent, the Titans can go into Baltimore and win.

The Ravens have NFL-leading rusher Jamal Lewis, but they are limited in the passing game. Expect 10 guys in the box for the Titans to stop Lewis. Anthony Wright is no threat down the field, which is why the Titans should be able to go into Baltimore and win.

Dallas (10-6) at Carolina (11-5)

This is the matchup the Cowboys wanted. They felt they had a better chance to go into Carolina and win, rather than go to Green Bay or Minnesota.

The Cowboys beat the Panthers earlier this year in Dallas, and they match up well with them. Carolina has played a lot of close games, which will help in the playoffs.

The Cowboys' top-rated defense might be too tough for a Carolina team that is also limited in the passing game. If Dallas can slow Stephen Davis, which is possible, they can also win on the road. This will be a physical game, which Dallas is more than capable of playing. The early pick is Dallas, although that could change with more analysis.

Seattle (10-6) at Green Bay (10-6)

Aren't you starting to get the feeling this Green Bay team might be charmed? They have Brett Favre play the magical game last Monday a day after his father dies and then they get the miracle pass play in the desert to get them into the playoffs.

With Ahman Green running like he has and Favre getting hot with the right arm, Green Bay will score points. The issue is whether they can slow down the opposition.

Seattle got a huge victory on the road at San Francisco on Saturday and they seem to be gaining confidence. Seattle has now played well in two consecutive road games. That has to mean something.

Green Bay blew them out this year at Lambeau Field, but this one will be closer. And don't be shocked to see the Seahawks pull the upset, the way the Falcons did last year when they beat the Packers in the playoffs. The early lean is to the Packers, but that also could change. Mike Holmgren is tough in playoff situations.

Denver (10-6) at Indianapolis (12-4)

This is The Rematch, and there will be a lot of sentiment to the Broncos in this one. And that's understandable. Last Sunday, they went into Indianapolis, with the Colts playing for a potential No. 2 seed and ran all over them.

It appeared the Colts had no answer for the Denver running game. But that can happen to young defensive teams. The system used by the Broncos, one based on cut-back runs, can sometimes overwhelm young teams. The second time it becomes easier to handle.

Another underlying theme of this game will be whether Peyton Manning can win a playoff game. He is 0-3, and some say his career won't be validated until he wins in the postseason. So what happens if he throws for 470 and the Colts lose 44-41? Will that be Manning's fault?

The Colts have to establish the run early to open up their play-action passing game. If it becomes a game of keep-away for the Broncos, the Colts won't win it. This actually might prove to an offensive shootout. Manning against the Denver running game. The Colts will turn The Rematch into The Revenge.

Playing out the scenarios, the Titans would then play the Patriots, while the Colts would play the Chiefs. In the NFC, it would be the Cowboys at the Eagles and Packers at the Rams. We'll deal with the next round sometime next week.

For now, enjoy the first four games. With such a deep pool of teams in the AFC -- a 10-6 Miami team didn't make the playoffs -- it shapes up as one of the better postseasons in a long time.

With the Rams losing to the Lions, blowing home-field advantage in the NFC, there's only one team on a roll heading to the playoffs. And that's the New England Patriots, who have won 12 consecutive games.

They need three more victories, two at home, to win their second Super Bowl in three years. Can they rip off 15 consecutive? That would be one heck of an accomplishment.

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