Shuk's playoff picks:
Patriots, Packers, Panthers
What the Shuk?
Ah, the NFL. Unlike other major football titles
(cough, cough, NCAA, cough, cough), there can be only one champion.
Here's a look at this week's quarter-final playoff matchups.
NEW ENGLAND over TENNESSEE
The Titans are the only AFC team that has a chance to unseat the
Patriots, as both clubs share the philosophy that you win with a
tough defense, an efficient (if not spectacular) offense and most
of all, no stupid mistakes. The difference, however, is that Tennessee
is dealing with a lot of banged-up players, including stars like
Steve McNair and Eddie George. The Patriots have had a week off
to rest, are 8-0 at home and haven't lost since September; no team
that isn't 100 per cent is leaving Gillette Stadium with a win.
Tennessee's only chance is if the co-MVP, Steve McNair, can pull
off one of his patented gutsy performances, and if Tara Reid gives
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady some type of venereal disease.
KANSAS CITY over INDIANAPOLIS
So Peyton Manning co-wins the MVP award, throws for five touchdowns
in a first round decimation of Denver, and I'm still picking him
to lose. It all comes down to the field; the Chiefs are traditionally
hard to beat at Arrowhead Stadium in front of their 80,000 red-clad
fans, and the Colts have had little playoff success away from their
beloved RCA Dome. This is another game between two similar teams,
as KC and Indy both have high-powered offenses prone to big mistakes.
This one could easily end up as a 38-37 shoot-out.
CAROLINA over ST. LOUIS
When you think of the playoffs, you think of great quarterbacks
going head-to-head. And then there's this game, which pits Marc
"battle of the" Bulger against Jake Delhomme. Otto Graham
is probably spinning in his grave, but there still might be some
worth to this contest. The Rams are extremely tough to beat in St.
Louis, but Carolina is the kind of defense-first club that could
give Bulger problems in his first playoff start. Also not helping
the Rams' case is that they were soundly beaten in the last week
of the season by the lowly Detroit Lions. I'm going to go ahead
and call the upset win for the Panthers, who have been quietly solid
all season long.
GREEN BAY over PHILADELPHIA
Cinderella has traded in her glass slippers for a Cheesehead, as
the Packers have had an amazing run both to make the playoffs and
then to beat Seattle in overtime last week. Now they're facing the
rested No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles, in front of Philly's notoriously
hostile fans -yet the Packers are going to win again. Brett Favre
has proved once again why he's a Hall of Famer by playing incredible
and inspiring football since the death of his father three weeks
ago, and Ahman Green should exploit Philly's one glaring weakness:
their No. 22 ranked rush defense. This is the toughest game to call,
since it's a case of the smart pick against the sentimental underdog
(who are also my favourite team). I hate to make any pick that aligns
myself with that loudmouth Rush Limbaugh, but I'm going to say that
for this week only, Green Bay will make the great Donovan McNabb
actually look overrated.