Short-yardage passing had a good year, except at the end of the Super Bowl. We look at the return of quarterback runs, the rise in pass-happy strategy, and 2014 success rates for offense and defense.
29 Dec 2003
With Scramble for the Ball on vacation, the rest of us decided to hold our own roundtable discussion about the playoffs, combined with a playoff fantasy draft. The roundtable includes myself, Pat, Jason, Mike, Russ, and special guest Geoff Larson from VikesGeek.
The playoff fantasy game works like this: Each player drafts a QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, K, and a defense. You get the fantasy points for your guys, but if they go out (either for injury or because their team loses) you do not get to replace them. So you need to balance fantasy quality (Matt Hasselbeck!) with teams likely to lose in the first round (Matt Hasselbeck!). Total score for the entire playoffs wins.
Our fantasy scoring is as follows:
The draft is a snake draft. Decided randomly, the order is: Russell, Pat, Aaron, Mike, Jason, and Geoff. The last two picks are done together in round 8. For the last round, I asked everyone to also give their picks both for this weekend and for the Super Bowl. If you've got a playoff fantasy draft coming this week, I hope you can use this for help picking players. If not, just enjoy the discussion.
Russ: I think I've come out of every single fantasy draft I've ever participated in saying "I hate my team." I don't suspect this will be any different. Can I pass on the top pick? Such a strange playoff year. New England and Philly are the top seeds, yet neither has the kind of spectacular individual talent you want in fantasy. I guess I'll make a very reluctant selection of: Marshall Faulk.
Geoff: Hard to dislike that choice. Even if the Rams choke, Faulk could have better fantasy points in one game than most players in this years' playoffs.
Pat: I'm going with the strategy of taking a team that has the potential to play 4 games instead of three. With the second selection in the Outsiders playoff fantasy draft, I select Steve McNair, Tennessee Titans.
Russ: Can't argue with that strategy either. Of course, you have to hope that McNair will actually be alive for all four games.
Pat: Exactly right, as long as McNair has a heartbeat, he'll be on the field. I just figure that being a wild card team doesn't exclude teams from making it to the Super Bowl and while we're looking to rack up numbers, might as well take the extra game, and if you're going to bet on any wild card team, why not one that went 12-4?
Aaron: I have to agree with Russell. Usually you start with running backs, but Philly and New England both are running back by committee. As much as I am tempted to take Priest Holmes, there's that whole one-and-done fear, and I wouldn't want to have to root for him against the Patriots in the AFC championship. Instead, I'll take a running back who should get at least two games -- thanks to Seattle's road troubles -- and has an outside shot at making a four-game run all the way to the Super Bowl: Ahman Green.
This is where we start consoling Geoff about yesterday's game, right? As much as I wanted Arizona to win so I could pick up the $20 Pat owes me on our preseason Arizona over/under bet (3.5 wins, I took the over) I can imagine that Geoff's feelings towards Mike Tice are much like my feelings towards Grady Little and Dusty Baker these days.
Mike: With the fourth pick, I select Priest Holmes. Aaron, you and I had similar thoughts in the Green/Holmes debate, but I'm happy with my guy. I guess this means I should root for the Titans to beat the Ravens, so Holmes doesn't have to face that Ravens defense in his first (and please, please, not only) game. I saw Holmes live and in person at Arrowhead this year, and I just love the way he finds the holes that his outstanding offensive line provides for him.
Pat: I don't think KC will win a game either, and I really don't think Holmes will mean much to a losing team. If/when that defense lets them down, its the Trent Green show. Even Priest Holmes isn't good enough to play catch-up to win.
Geoff: Hard to disagree with Holmes either. The only concern regarding Holmes is whether KC will win a game. Even if they do not, Holmes could be huge. I think Holmes is as good a receiving option for KC as has, however. It might be the Green show, but it may be Green to Holmes. KC looked pretty awful against Minnesota. It is hard to believe that they did so well this year.
Thanks for the consolation. It's tough, but the Vikes have a history of making life tough on their fans. They also have a history this year of losing to bad teams -- four losses to teams that finished 4-12. Next yearÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ I had Green as my top player. Nice pick.
Jason: Damn, I was hoping Ahman Green would drop all the way to me, no such luck. Anyway, my problem with most of our Fantasy Leagues is that I draft a team that looks good on paper, then Ian (from Scramble for the Ball) picks it to win the league, thus jinxing me. I've solved this problem this time by getting Ian as my consultant...He's in Vegas now, scoping things out for my arrival in Sin City tomorrow. Since all the RBs left on the board are either committee backs or have questionable matchups, let's go for the only real Philly fantasy stud... Mr. McNabb. Also I like his balding afro.
Russ: McNabb really needs to bring back the receding-hair-line 'fro for the postseason. You gotta love that look in those "it's not my yard" Visa commercials. For my money, the best acting job by a pro football player in a commercial since Bruce Smith's "This is it! This is it!" in those Logo Athletic/Bingo ads circa 1995.
Geoff: McNabb looks like a real dog to me. He has one of the lowest QB ratings of the playoff QBs and has lost his main horse in Westbrook. I also think that if the Eagles move on through the playoffs, it will be due to its running game and defense. Of course, in a year in which nothing has gone to form, who knows. With that said, it is pretty tough to find many clear fantasy favorites for the playoffs. Some of the big players will miss the playoffs and the best fantasy guys might be on teams that only play one or two games.
With the sixth pick, I will take: Torry Holt. With the seventh pick, I select my nemesis: Brett Favre.
Pat: The story of the Patriots season, even more disrespect. We made it through an entire round and not a single player was picked! Sure, there's nothing there at RB, but Brady can rack up some numbers and someone's got to do their scoring. I was going to jump on their bandwagon for this game, but I was afraid that others would do the same and I'd miss out on key players. Might have to change strategy at this point.
Jason: Hey wait, was that Domanick Davis scoring 2 TDs against the Indy defense this week? If Quentin Griffin can torch them for 136 yards, imagine what Clinton Portis can do...So that's who I pick (Portis, not Griffin). And yes, I'm Denver boy, but this is actually Ian's idea. He figures Denver has a good a chance of beating New England as anybody, once they crush Indy.
Geoff: Assuming their offense does the scoring. Brady is efficient but that offense is not a fantasy dream. The defense might be, however.
Denver might surprise but they sure went into the playoffs on a sour note. Granted, they sat four or five starters (thanks by the way), but the game has to weigh on the minds of the regulars who did start.
Mike: With the ninth pick, I select Marc Bulger. I would have preferred having Holt, but I want to have someone on that Rams offense, which I think is going to perform quite nicely despite yesterday's debacle in Detroit. Speaking of Holt, I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that as great as he is, I think Holt was only the second-best receiver in the NFL this year. I think it's harder to have 1,377 yards in Arizona than it is to have 1,696 yards in St. Louis.
Geoff: I'll take Moss. I have no idea how Boldin put up such good numbers with that offense -- it is absolutely putrid. Boldin looked pretty unremarkable yesterday -- did someone slip in a digit on those receiving stats? I know people outside Minnesota don't like Moss, but look at the numbers. Pretty good.
Jason: Um, you're not taking him in the draft, right? Moss will be putting up exactly zero points, sitting on his ass at home. Unless of course you mean Santana Moss, then instead you will get exactly zero points.
Geoff: No, just like I am not taking Boldin -- who is sitting on his ass, at home, under contract with a team with no prospects.
Russ: The numbers are such a small part of the story with Moss, though. Athletically, he's rediculous. But will they ever win with him? All his teammates know he only tries some of the time -- see the quote from Daunte after last week's game. He'll put up his huge numbers every year and go to the Pro Bowl, but when you factor in how much of their cap he eats up, I just don't think he's worth the trouble.
Russ: Totally agree on Denver. I know they rested everyone -- Jarious Jackson? Shouldn't he be in AF2? -- but I wonder about the wisdom of allowing your team to be rolled like that heading into the playoffs. My guess is Shanahan figured he'd be playing the Colts again and nothing that Green Bay did to his depleted squad yesterday could hurt their confidence for a Colts rematch. The first one wasn't exactly close.
Aaron: Well, Pat, you almost blew my plan to pick up Tom Brady in the second round, but luckily he still falls to me. I don't think it is a lack of respect for the Pats, I think it is an acknowledgement that this team is defense-dependent. If we were drafting 8 defensive players and a team offense instead of the other way around, Seymour, Harrison, Law, and Bruschi would all be gone in the first 10 picks. Of course, when the Pats do score it is usually through the air, which is why I like taking Brady.
As for the idea that Denver is in trouble because they blew yesterday's game, I don't see it. I would love to see historically how teams do when they sit their starters in a meaningless final game before heading into the playoffs, but I can't imagine anyone in Denver is thinking "we're losers" to the extent that players in Indy are thinking "Denver is going to run all over us."
I note that no Panthers or Cowboys have been taken yet. Is anyone at all excited for that game? I call it the "Jealousy Bowl" because Miami fans have to watch that game wondering, "How come we have to play in the AFC and these two lame teams get to make the playoffs?"
Pat: I'm going to agree with the "gotta have someone from STL" theory and grab the best WR left not named Harrison and take Isaac Bruce.
Geoff: I thought long about Brady over Favre. I like the prospects for Favre a bit more, but Brady may see more games. Brady has great stats and a very nice QB rating.
Denver is a funny team. They have a great running game (what new) but a QB that instills little confidence in me. Maybe that's simply the Arizona factor.
Pretty tough to like the Carolina-Dallas game. Yuck! That could be a 6-3 game!
Jason: Denver's fate was decided by game-time...Why not rest the starters if you can? It's like your own personal bye-week. Denver's stars will certainly be a lot fresher than Baltimore for example, who was in the same situation but chose to play their starters the whole game... It was a smart move by Shanahan, I hope it pays off.
Russ: I'm going to swallow hard and take Peyton Manning with the final pick of the second round. I'm staking my entire team on his ability to win at least one playoff game before he dies. I'll also make the Patriot crowd happy and select Troy Brown.
Geoff: No knock on the coaching decision by Shanahan. Denver just has to overcome any negatives created by the blowout. By my count, the Broncos sat five starters. That means 17 guys who were part of the blowout will start in the playoffs, they've gotta be wondering whether they are up to playing against Manning, et. al.
Jason: See: Week 16. Which team should be worried?
Pat: I know this might evoke a great many chuckles, but I'm going with Eddie George. To win something like this league, you gotta stick your neck out and I'm betting that Tennessee makes it all the way to Houston. Edge is still around, but even an Eddie George gets more points in 4 games than Edge in one.
Aaron: Does everyone agree with me that the best game of the first weekend is Tennessee-Baltimore? I don't know who is going to win that one. But I do know this: Tennessee's rush defense is overrated. Jamal Lewis' fumbles only count for -2 in fantasy. Jamal Lewis runs a lot. If Baltimore wins, and Denver beats Indy, Jamal Lewis gets to play Kansas City. Viva Jamal Lewis.
Mike: Aaron, your pick of Jamal Lewis is a good one, but I think the Ravens are going to lose their first game. That's why my choice is Derrick Mason. I think Brian Billick was wrong to play all his starters through an entire overtime game. I belong to the Shanahan school: Once your seed is determined, play it safe.
Pat: I'm actually more interested in Denver/Indy only because I think Manning is really getting sick of the "can't win the big one" argument. If Denver wins, I'll be disappointed, but this is also a game that is tough to pick.
Jason: The first of the committee members is off the board. Duce Staley will be joining his man Donovan on our team. Kind of a tossup between him and Buckhalter, but since the road to the Superbowl goes through Philly, I like the Eagles a lot more than I do the Rams.
Geoff: Not only is the Denver-Indy one of the toughest picks but its outcome really changes the prospects of teams down the road.
Russ: I can't believe Dallas-Carolina is the Saturday night game. What a snooze.
I'm actually interested in Seattle-Green Bay. Maybe Seattle got over the hump with their road woes by beating San Francisco this week. Maybe not. No doubt, the Pack is playing really well right now, but the whole "Brett Favre/Lambeau/January" aura invincibility is a far cry from what it used to be.
Geoff: With the 18th and 19th picks I select: Harrison and the Edge.
Jason: I know this is the wrong sport, but the way you do that reminds me of David Stern at the NBA draft. I especially enjoy when he has to pronounce ridiculous foreign names. Which makes me think there's certainly a shortage of Eastern Europeans in the NFL. But I severely digress. I'll be the first to jump into the tight end pool, and take the bestest one on the board, Tony Gonzalez. He might actually even play more than one game!
Aaron: Geoff, you're definitely sticking your eggs in the Indy basket here. What makes you feel this game will turn out different from the first one? Or is it more a high-risk/high-reward thing, because James and Harrison will be worth a lot if they do play two or more games?
Geoff: This is mostly high risk-high reward. Even if Indy gets past Denver, I don't see them beating KC in KC, but even one game might produce better fantasy results than some of the other players will produce.
Mike: Curse you, Jason! I was all set to take Gonzalez at this spot. I feel like Bill Belichick in the 1995 draft, when he was sure the tight end he wanted (Kyle Brady) would be there at his spot, and then the team right ahead of him grabbed the guy. Unilke Belichick, though, I don't have a job as head coach of the Cleveland Browns riding on making this selection work, and I won't be trading my pick. Instead, I'll use it on Rod Smith.
Aaron: Well, let's see, I don't have a wide receiver yet, and I'm loading up on AFC players here. But there's really no difference between any of the Green Bay receivers or Philly receivers, the two St. Louis receivers are gone, I have no idea who wins the Dallas-Carolina game, and I don't have any faith in Seattle. Over in the AFC, Rod Smith is gone, so are Harrison and Mason, KC throws mostly to Holmes and Gonzalez, and Baltimore throws mostly to the other team.
So, Shannon Sharpe, baby. The man who never shuts up.
Pat: I'll take a chance, as he might be the best one left: Stephen Davis, CAR
Aaron: Finally, a Carolina or Dallas player. Dallas shut him down in their first meeting but who knows if that happens again, and if Carolina wins he gets two games. Too bad for him the second one wouldn't be against the terrible Philly rush defense.
Geoff: That sounds about right Aaron. Davis had a tough go last time against Dallas. And who knows what would happen if Davis faced St. Louis. Probably not many carries though.
Pat: Dallas' D has been spotty lately, so yep, you never know. He could go romp Dallas for 150 and 2 TDs or that could be just as good of a pick as taking Dedrick Ward. We'll see
Russ: Going with the "less in more games is more than more in less games" theory... I'll take Antowain Smith and Javon Walker.
Geoff: Walker could be a great pick. He is GB's top receiver. I also like Smith since I have New England going all the way.
Pat: Gotta stick with the plan. Frank Wycheck is my TE.
Aaron: Wow, Pat, so many eggs in the Titan basket you need a stronger basket.
Not sure if there's much difference between Walker, Ferguson, and Driver. Therefore, I will take none of them and instead take a total homer pick. New England Patriots defense.
Russ: It was a toss-up for me between Walker and the Pats' D, but counting on a defense to score fantasy points can be such a dicey proposition.
Pat: In my experience of playing these sort of playoff games, I've found its the only way to win, is to pick your teams and stick with 'em. If you spread out too much, you can't win. Now, with a league this small, I may have miscalculated, but I think even if TN goes all the way to Houston and loses, I still win this league. My other bet was to go with STL, but they've all been picked clean. I understand that if TN loses anywhere short of the Super Bowl, I'm done, but I'll take the gamble with a 12-4 team.
Mike: A tough decision, but I'm going to count on Seattle's Darrell Jackson to have a big day as Mike Holmgren coaches against his former team.
Jason: Hmm, I wanna take a kicker, but is it best to throw Akers in my basket of Eagles, or hedge my bets with Wilkins or Vinatieri? Or do I take Gary Andersen just to annoy Pat? Err, I'll throw one more in the basket and take Akers. Guess I'm an Eagles fan this year.
Aaron: With the new metric alphabet, the "decabet," Eagle is now pronounced "Efaglef."
Russ: Oddly enough, "Efaglef" is also Swahili for "worst team ever to capture a #1 seed."
Geoff: Mmmmm... Lots to choose from. I will take Eddie Kennison and Ryan Longwell.
Jason: This is my sneaky pickÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ David Givens. I'm surprised nobody has noticed him emerging in New England just in time for the playoffs, a-la David Patten two years ago.
Mike: I'd like to address the subject of parity. Did anyone else notice that this is the first year in the NFL's history that every team won at least four games? The Cardinals and Chargers clinched it yesterday. My choice is another kicker, the Rams' Jeff Wilkins.
Aaron: I don't know what is stranger, that no team won less then four games, or that all four teams that went 4-12 beat Minnesota.
I was wrong before when I said there was no difference between the Green Bay receivers. Walker, it turns out, has all the touchdowns. And yes, Jason, I had planned to take David Givens here. Instead I'll take Todd Pinkston, because the Eagles have suddenly started passing to him in the last three weeks, and with Westbrook out they will probably need to throw more to Pinkston and fewer WR screens.
Pat: I'm not sure that's parity when you have teams winning 88% their games and other teams winning just 25%. If anything, baseball would be a whole lot closer to parity than the NFL.
Russ: I did think that 4-12 was abnormally good for the top pick in the draft, but didn't realize it was a record. Parity is often addressed at the top of the standings but rarely the bottom.
I was pretty impressed with how nearly everyone (Bucs, Giants and a few others excepted) with nothing to play for still played hard yesterday.
Another thing I was wondering about: I kept hearing yesterday how LaDanian Tomlinson became the first RB in history with 100 catches. Didn't Larry Centers have 101 a few years back with Arizona?
Pat: I guess with this pick, I'll take Donald Driver.
Mike: Baseball will always have fewer teams winning 75% and 25% of their games because baseball has more than 10 times as many games, and things tend to even out when we have a larger statistical sample. I wasn't comparing football with baseball in terms of parity; I was comparing the 2003 NFL with the NFL in its other 83 seasons.
Russ: I'll take Bubba Franks and the Tennessee defense.
Aaron: Tomlinson wasn't the first RB to get 100 catches, but rather the first RB to get 100 catches AND 1000 yards. Sort of one of those ludicrous "I'll take one stat from column A and one from column B" things.
Pat: I'll go with the Rams defense.
Mike: Yes, Centers did have 101 catches with Arizona in 1995 (a team record that Anquan Boldin tied yesterday, by the way). The commentators were saying that Tomlinson is the first RUNNING back to get 100 catches, whereas Centers is a FULLback. Sounds to me like a typical football announcer way of trying to make everything a star player does sound more impressive than it is. I love Tomlinson. I think he's the best running back in the league. But if you want to praise him for something, praise him for his 243 yards rushing yesterday, not his eight catches for a pathetic 17 yards. Also, the 100-catch season has suffered even more from stat inflation than the 50-homer season in baseball. Consider this: The NFL had zero 100 catch seasons from 1920 to 1983 (the pass-happy AFL had two in the 1960s). In the 1980s the NFL had one 100-catch season, by Art Monk in 1984. In the 1990s the league had 23, and since 2000 there have been 19.
Aaron: I'd like to point out we are now in the middle of round 7 and not a single Dallas player has been taken or even mentioned. America's Team, baby! Who am I to argue? Steve Smith, Carolina wideout.
Mike: I'll take Todd Heap.
Jason: Shoveling through crappy WRs here. (Ian's no help anymore... He mumbled something about Steve Smith then got sucked under a blackjack table. I'm on my own.) I guess I'll take Ashley Lelie since I'll be rootin' for Denver anyway.
Geoff: I guess I will break from my commitment not to pick a player from the offensively challenged Boys and take Hambrick. I will also take the Ravens' defense and Christian Fauria.
As for my predictions, I like New England over KC in the AFC and St. Louis over Green Bay in the NFC. I like New England to win it all.
I like Baltimore over Tennessee mainly based on home field, Baltimore's defense, and Tennessee's suspect rushing game. I like McNair, but don't think he can do enough to overcome Baltimore's advantages.
I like Carolina over Dallas, but only because Carolina is at home. Carolina is one of the most overrated teams this year but Dallas is close behind. Neither team has a QB, both play some defense, and Carolina has a running game. Slight edge to Carolina but a Dallas victory would not surprise me.
I also like Indy over Denver but only marginally. Denver has played well recently and Indy struggled against some pretty bad teams. It is difficult to win on the road, even more difficult to win at the same road venue twice in a season, and always difficult to win on the road in the playoffs. Denver may be slightly better but they are on the road. I give the edge to Indy based entirely on a cop out: intangibles (i.e., my hunch).
Finally, I like Green Bay over Seattle. A Seattle victory would be a huge upset. Seattle is awful on the road and Green Bay has been playing well. Much has been made of Holmgren's familiarity of Favre, but that appeared to matter little when Green Bay and Seattle met earlier this year.
Overall, I like New England. New England plays solid defense, has a good QB, solid receiver, and decent running back. It also has home field. St. Louis has a great back in Faulk, good receivers, but an inconsistent QB.
Jason: Final picks: Carolina D. This is largely due to the fact that Quincy Carter should be giving fantasy points to somebody. And Deion Branch. I'll take me another (small) piece of the Pats. Here are my predictions:
1st Round: Broncos beat Colts: Indy's playoff woes continue
Titans beat Ravens: Billick should have rested Lewis. McNair is a god.
Packers beat Hawks: Seattle road woes continue
Panthers beat 'Boys: What the hell is Dallas doing in the post-season?
2nd Round: Broncos beat Pats: last time they almost won. This time they have Plummer.
Chiefs beat Titans: Chiefs prove nay-sayers wrong. Mcnair plays despite decapitation.
Eagles beat Packers: Favre magic finally runs out.
Panthers beat Rams: St. Louis never woke up after Week 17 loss.
3rd Round: Broncos beat Chiefs: As long as I'm dreaming, why not?
Eagles beat Panthers: McNabb ate his Chunky Soup today.
Super Bowl: Broncos beat Eagles. Clinton Portis, MVP, rushes for 190 yards, 2 TDs. Earns giant gold pants to wear with his giant gold belt.
Mike: I'll take Correll Buckhalter as my second running back and the Cowboys' defense.
My picks this weekend are Dallas, Green Bay, Tennessee and Denver. It's probably not a good idea to pick three road teams in the wild card round, seeing as it's never happened before, but I'll go out on a limb.
As for my Super Bowl picks, I actually picked Philadelphia and New England before the season, so you'd think I'd stick with them. But I won't. I just have a feeling that the Chiefs are going to find a way to put up 30 points a game and hold their opponents to 28 points a game. And I'll stick with the Eagles in the NFC. If I'm right, no one will be able to say, "You have to stop the run to win in January" again.
Donovan McNabb will be Super Bowl MVP as the Eagles beat the Chiefs.
Two closing comments:
Why didn't the announcers comment on Shaun Alexander's terrible play toward the end of the Seahawks-49ers game? With Seattle needing to run out the clock, Alexander lazily jogged out of bounds instead of going down inbounds. The play gave the 49ers 40 extra seconds that they would have used to mount a comeback if Jeff Garcia hadn't thrown such a horrible pass on fourth down.
Russ: I've seen that on numerous occasions from Alexander. I don't know whether he's clueless, soft, or concerned about his stats, but it's maddening. Fall down!
Aaron: As long as we are giving kudos to Peter King, how about picking Dan Koppen as his all-pro center. Nice. Peter remembered all the Pats that the Pro Bowl forgot.
Jason, although Plummer did not play against the Pats, New England was missing Ted Washington and Richard Seymour in that game.
I'm going to look at the matchups closer when I write my DVOA playoff preview articles, but right now I have to take Denver, Green Bay, Carolina, and Baltimore. Although, to be honest, Baltimore-Tennessee is a total toss-up to me, I'm only thinking Baltimore because their #1 attribute, pass defense, neutralizes the Titans' #1 attribute, pass offense. I don't see how this weekend's game is any different than two weeks ago for Denver and the Colts. DVOA says the Colts rush D is actually WORSE than Kansas City's. Dallas-Carolina, I dunno, I'll go with the home field here, Carolina really lucked out getting Dallas instead of Green Bay or Seattle. Green Bay, well, I think the "Favre is playing out of his head" angle is overrated -- he's done it against Oakland and a Denver team that didn't care -- and I think Seattle's road woes are overrated, but there's road and then there's THE FROZEN TUNDRA OF LAMBEAU FIELD.
For the Super Bowl, I'm going with St. Louis and New England. I have no idea how St. Louis blew the game against Detroit, but if Carolina wins, they go to St. Louis, which should be a much easier game than Green Bay-Philly. I think the Pack should be able to take the Eagles, meaning the Rams get Brett "I can't throw in domes" Favre in the conference final. I've written enough about the Pats, they're my boys and the dynasty of the coming decade.
With my Super Bowl picks in mind, my final two fantasy picks are Adam "slumping but I'll have tons of opportunities" Vinatieri and Dane "whodat?" Looker from the Rams.
Pat: My last picks are Reggie Wayne and Gary Anderson. I take the Pats to win it all. This weekend:
Indy over Denver
Tennessee over Baltimore
Carolina over Dallas
Green Bay over Seattle
Russ: I'll take Johnny Morton and for Mr. Irrelevant, Morten Andersen.
Green Bay over Seattle in a close one. Seattle really proved something to me on Saturday @ SF, but Green Bay is playing really well right now.
Tennessee over Baltimore. I can't in good conscience pick a team in the playoffs with Anthony Wright at QB.
Carolina over Dallas. Hard to pick a team with Jake Delhomme at QB, unless he's facing a team with Quincy Carter at QB.
Indianapolis over Denver. Playoff rematches, especially when they're back-to-back or nearly back-to-back, seem to have a funny way of reversing form. Manning is too good to have gone this long without a playoff win. Indy's D scares me, but they'll do enough to pull out a win.
Super Bowl: New England over Green Bay. If St. Louis had won yesterday, I'd probably pick them, but they really let me down, and I just have a hunch that the Philly fans are going to get an early letdown this year, when Green Bay beats them in the Divisional round. That said, New England is the most complete team in the league, and they'll win it all.
Aaron: Here are the final rosters. We'll update the results each week in the TMQ discussion thread along with Jason's weekly cartoon.
|QB||Manning, IND||McNair, TEN||Brady, NWE|
|RB||M. Faulk, STL||George, TEN||A. Green, GNB|
|RB||A. Smith, NWE||S. Davis, CAR||J. Lewis, BAL|
|WR||T. Brown, NWE||Bruce, STL||Pinkston, PHI|
|WR||J. Walker, GNB||Driver, GNB||S. Smith, CAR|
|WR||Morton, KAN||Wayne, IND||Looker, STL|
|TE||Franks, GNB||Wycheck, TEN||Sharpe, DEN|
|K||M. Andersen, KAN||G. Anderson, TEN||Vinatieri, NWE|
|DEF||Tennessee||St. Louis||New England|
|QB||Bulger, STL||McNabb, PHI||Favre, GNB|
|RB||Holmes, KAN||Portis, DEN||James, IND|
|RB||Buckhalter, PHI||Staley, PHI||Hambrick, DAL|
|WR||Mason, TEN||Givens, NWE||Holt, STL|
|WR||R. Smith, DEN||Lelie, DEN||Harrison, IND|
|WR||D. Jackson, SEA||Branch, NWE||Kennison, KAN|
|TE||Heap, BAL||Gonzalez, KAN||Fauria, NWE|
|K||Wilkins, STL||Akers, PHI||Longwell, GNB|