Since there was no BDFL podcast this week, here are my thoughts and predictions for this week in the NFL.
News and Notes
I’m disappointed Drew Brees came up short against Detroit to eclipse Dan Marino’s record. Brees’ 386 yards blew away his 316.8 yds/game average this season, but he needed 16 more to break the record. Still, he ended up with a second-best-ever 5069 yards. As a consolation, his ten 300-plus-yard passing games tie Rich Gannon’s 2002 record for the most in one season.
Of the coaches that have been fired since the end of the regular season, I’m most surprised by the Jets’ letting go of Eric Mangini. He should return as a head coach somewhere else next season.
I can’t believe we have two 8-8 division winners this year — Chazona. That is, San Diego and Arizona, the two teams that temporarily shared a home field in 2003. Neither will make a dent in the playoffs.
Wild Card Predictions
Atlanta (11-5) at Arizona (8-8): The Cardinals won the NFC West by being the least bad team. The Falcons were much better. Perhaps the Cardinals are having trouble selling out the game because it’s on a Saturday that’s part of an extended holiday weekend, but I think it’s more than that. Atlanta should continue their resurgence: Falcons 34, Cardinals 17.
Indianapolis (12-4) at San Diego (8-8): The Colts ride a nine-game win streak into this one and are 6-2 on the road this season, including a win in San Diego. The Chargers have been very inconsistent and won’t be able to pull this game out. Colts 27, Chargers 23.
Baltimore (11-5) at Miami (11-5): The Ravens won handily in Miami earlier this season (27-13), and I think they’ll do it again. However, the defenses on both teams will keep it close. Ravens 13, Dolphins 12.
Philadelphia (9-6-1) at Minnesota (10-6): Both of these teams were lucky to make it into the playoffs. I think the battle-tested Eagles will contain the Vikings’ running game enough to win. Eagles 28, Vikings 24.
Yes, I think all the away teams will win this weekend. The weather shouldn’t factor in as a home-field advantage in any of the contests; two are in domes and two are in southern stadiums. The watering down of the playoff seeds accomplished with the 2002 realignment is to blame.
Update (1/4 10am): Well, I went 0-for-2 on these predictions yesterday and my UB Bulls couldn’t find enough offence against UConn. Arizona handled Atlanta well, and Darren Sproles and Mike Scifres led the Chargers to victory.