NFL playoffs

This thread is for discussion of week 17 plus the playoffs all the way through the Superbowl.

Some interesting matchups going into week 17, where teams will have to decide whether or not to rest their starters. IMO, teams that have clinched their spots should treat it exactly like the third preseason game: rest anyone who is dinged up, otherwise play your starters into the 3rd.

Titans @ Colts (Sunday Night)
Tony Dungy had a long history of resting his starters after clinching their spot, and then getting eliminated in the playoffs. Last year, IIRC, he didn’t rest anybody and they won it all. Did he learn his lesson? (Or am I mis-remembering?) The Titans and Browns are surely interested in what he wants to do. For the Titans, it’s simple: win and you’re in, lose and stay home. Let’s see if Young can pull it together in the dome.

Cowboys @ Redskins
With Romo and TO both hurt, I expect the Cowboys to keep them out, effectively conceding this game. Meanwhile the Redskins are in if they win, though with help they could still make it even if they lose. Personally I’m rooting for Washington to make it, since that would be the second consecutive year the NFC East sends three representatives to the post-season.

I’m not liking the sound of Brett Favre’s post-game comments yesterday where he complained about it being cold. Uh, Brett, you’re aware you play in Green Bay, right? I mean, I get that Chicago probably has more severe wind chills, but come on, man. You aren’t instilling confidence in your ability to weather the elements after your first round bye.

Cleveland is in a bit of an odd position. They not only haven’t clinched a playoff birth, but their fate is completely out of their hands. They are in with a Titans loss, stay home with a Titans win. (And the Titans play after the Browns.) It doesn’t matter either way if the Browns actually lose to the 49ers. Well, it doesn’t matter for playoff implications, but I’d think they’d want to try and re-establish a little momentum after the turd they laid yesterday. I just find it odd that a team could miss the playoffs AND legitimately rest their starters. That doesn’t happen very often.

I can’t think of a less-appealing wildcard opponent in recent memory. They give both the Steelers and Chargers solid motivation to play for the #3 seed to avoid them, with their ability to play well anywhere under any weather conditions.

With still something left to play for, the Bucs rested their starters in the second half against the 49ers yesterday, resulting in a loss. Some would say the Bucs intentionally sandbagged in order to get the 4 seed instead of the 3, meaning they would face the Giants instead of the Vikings/Redskins. I can’t really fault them for that. Jeff Garcia in particular has been a Giant-killer, and it is of interest that this will be the third time he’s faced the Giants in the playoffs on three different teams: 49ers, Eagles, and now Bucs. He is 2-0 so far, with both games going down to the wire. We’'ll see a week from next if this gambit pays off.

Patriots @ Giants
This is the historic matchup of the weekend, but most won’t be able to see it. I have argued before that the NFL Network Thursday games don’t change any game’s availability, because they are usually games that wouldn’t be broadcast outside their home markets anyway. I forgot about the traditional Giants late-season Saturday games, though. Those have always been nationally televised games, but now on NFL Network (both last year and this) most of the country is being denied a game they would otherwise be able to see. (I didn’t notice because I get to see them, being in a local market.)

Mike Francessa made a pretty compelling argument about why the Giants should try their hardest in this game. First, the Giants aren’t going to the Superbowl, but even if they did, ending the Patriots bid for a perfect season would be more memorable. While I agree that beating the Patriots would be one for the history books, I don’t necessarily agree that the Giants have no chance in the playoffs.

I don’t hate the Giants chances against the Bucs in the wildcard round. The Giants biggest weaknesses are wind, rain, cold, and playing at home, none of which should be part of the wildcard game in Tampa Bay. The Giants have won seven straight on the road, so going on the road in the playoffs is probably a good thing.

It’s not quite that Gruden just decided to rest his starters. Late in the first half Maurice Stovall got a broken arm on a routine pass play. Given some of the injuries they’ve seen this year, Gruden decided “screw it. If our second string can win, great, if not, so be it.” It was still very close and the Bucs came an inch from tying it on their last offensive play. (Michael Clayton’s back foot came down just out of bounds on the 2 point conversion try).

Yeah, I saw that replay. Very close, though clearly out.

As I said, I can’t really blame Gruden either way. Looking at it objectively, I’d have rather faced the Giants than the winner of the Vikes/Redskins game too.

I’m looking forward to seeing Ike in action again, having not seen a single Bucs game all season. (Garcia rocked the house for me in my fantasy league pretty much all season.)

Also meant to point out that Seattle was leading the hapless Baltimore Ravens 21-0 at halftime (both games were West coast), with little indication that the Ratbirds had a chance to get back in the game. Given that, and the injury to Stovall, Gruden was absolutely correct to pull his key personnel. I really dislike the guy, but can’t say that there was anything left to play for. Remember TB lost to the Seahawks in the first game of the season, so would lose the tiebreak, so at that point they were pretty much resigned to the four spot, regardless of whether that matchup works best for them.

The AFC playoffs are looking very exciting. Jacksonville’s rematch in Stinktown…er, Pittsburgh will be fun, and the winner has to play New England (assuming Cleveland/Tennessee doesn’t advance against San Diego). Jacksonville-New England would be an awesome matchup, and on top of that, we could get another Colts-Pats showdown in the AFC championship, which is always fun to watch.

I’d be thrilled to get any two of the four bye teams in the Super Bowl. I’m pretty indifferent between Pats-Colts, but I’d like to see Green Bay get in. Despite ESPN’s constant Brett Favre knob-slobbering, I admit that it is fun to watch him compete like he has this year. IMO, the most interesting Super Bowl matchups come from the QBs. I didn’t care much about Grossman last year, so whatever. But Favre-Brady? Romo-Manning? That’d be awesome. I just hope none of the wild card teams make it through. Well, unless by some divine miracle Cleveland gets the wild card this weekend.

F*cking Vikings. Dammit. They do this to me every single year. Bastards.

My only consolation is that even if they do get in, by some miracle, which they won’t, they’d only lose. At least this way I probably won’t have to see that.

Hail to the Redskins! We lost 4 straight games after the midpoint of the season and we don’t need any help to make the playoffs? We lose our best defensive player, the right side of our O-line has been out all year and our starting QB goes down and then we win two straight must-win games to stay in the playoff picture? With the exception of the Patriots game, every game we lost this year we were winning at the half. This is my first year having season tickets and Sunday’s game vs. the Cowgirls is going to be sweet. Beat the Cowboys, go to the playoffs. Hell yeah. Oh, yeah; I won my fantasy football league this year too.

If the Redskins beat Dallas on Sunday, here’s hoping that Gibbs stays with Todd Collins at QB in the playoffs, even if Jason Campbell is healthy. He’s got the hot hand, he knows Al Saunders’ system inside and out, and they’re winning. You don’t change QBs in the middle of a winning streak.

The 'Skins have lost narrowly to the Pack, the 'Boys, the Bucs, and split a pair with the Giants. IOW, they’ve played everyone, fairly evenly, who’s already got an NFC playoff spot except the Seahawks, who are the team they’d almost surely have to play if they get in. The Redskins could potentially run the NFC table, at which point they’d almost surely get stomped by the Pats in the Super Bowl, but it would still be a fun ride.

So, the Redskins, Vikings, and Titans are the only teams playing for either a playoff berth or seeding?

The Browns and Saints can make it with some help.

Eh, I don’t really like this year. The only thing that would be interesting is if the Pats get beat, but that’s probably not going to happen. If it does, there’ll be a lot of what ifs, because even if they lose in the playoffs somehow, they’re still the best team by a country mile.

The NFC playoffs are just to see who gets to be the Washington Generals for the Pats this year. It would be nice to see the Cowboys lose in a most embarassing fashion, though.

Hell, I absolutely love their chances against the Bucs, and (if everything else falls together properly) would give them a pretty good chance against the Packers the following week.

I’m hoping the Redskins make just so the entire rest of the NFC East can point at the Eagles and yell “HA-ha!”.

And except for the Bucs, whom you were trailing 19-3 at halfime, although you did make it interesting at the end.

I think the Phillips will play Romo for at least half the game, maybe even three quarters. He claims to be concerned about rust with a bye week coming up … Owens is out, Girode (still officially only ‘doubtful’) will almost certainly be out, as will (I hope! He needs to rest!) Terence Neuman. So the 'boys will be working with a depleted o-line, and with Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd as their primary wideouts. (Terry Glenn may be back this week, but at best will have limited minutes.) Not a recipe for success this week, that’s for sure–but two weeks to rest before their first playoff game after.

The Browns just need the Titans to lose. The Saints need a miracle from on high: Washington to lose, Minnesota to lose, and then (worst of all) they still need to win! I wouldn’t be buying any Saints/Seahawks playoff tickets just yet. :slight_smile:

(I married a Saints fan, which gives me so many opportunities for football snark come playoff time.)


Patriots’ Historic Game to Be Available to All of America, After All


I can’t believe it. With the league’s “Lalalalalala I can’t hear you!” stance on the NFLN, I am shocked that they’re actually going to let us see this game.

Makes them seem magnanimous and at least triples their audience. Win-win.

What I’m wondering about that game, is which side, if either, will actually try to win. The Bucs rested their starters for half of their game last week, and will probably rest their starters for at least that long in a meaningless home contest against the Panthers this week. The Patriots can play their first string for a while, if they want to, since they have a bye week coming up. But would New York go all out, since this is meaningless for them, and they will risk injury and fatigue to their first string, just out of some sort of sense of machismo?

I hate trying to handicap these sorts of games late in the season.

I think New England will try harder than the Giants, but that’s just a vague guess, I know little about the Giants.

I say that because as much as they talk it down, NE wants to set all sorts of records. Look at how they forced the ball to Moss in the 2nd half of last game. They want Brady to get 50 TDs and Moss to get 23. I wouldn’t be surprised to see those players play until that happens.

…and the fix is in…look for the Pats to win by 3 points in the final seconds of the game… :smiley:

ESPN offers hope to Browns fans. For the non-clicky types, Marvin Harrison is practicing. Dungy says if he plays, he may let Manning stay in longer on Sunday to work on his timing with Harrison.

Will defeating the Pats take “Little Brother’s” rep to the next level? This is the motivation for the Gints that I see. Eli is a good QB with bad and good moments, but not Elite. Could this be a break out game for him.

I’m just hoping no Pats leave the field hobbling especialy Tom in the face of that Gints pass rush.