Gazette Sports NFL playoff preview bonanza

High powered Pats too much for competition

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Philip Rivers

Gazette File Photo

PHILIP RIVERS IN A PLAYOFF GAME? WE'RE SHOCKED TOO. With the NFL playoff season in full swing, Gazette Sports provides its predictions for the upcoming season.

AFC Divisional
Jacksonville at New England
The Jaguars are an intriguing matchup for New England â€" they’re the best team in the league yet to meet the juggernaut Patriots. The fact remains, though: the Pats are simply too dominant to pick against.

The tailback tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew will pound out yards on the ground, and quarterback David Garrard will limit mistakes to keep Jacksonville in it; however, New England’s passing attack will prevail in the end.
Prediction: NE 27, JAX 20

San Diego at Indianapolis
Something doesn’t feel right in San Diego. Philip Rivers has been inconsistent, and Antonio Gates’ injury will leave a huge hole in the offence. LaDainian Tomlinson can win games by himself, but the Colts’ new-breed defence could actually hold him in check.

The Chargers will still put up points, but the Colts will put up more â€" a lot more, by our count â€" especially with All-Pro Marvin Harrison back from a knee injury.
Prediction: IND 41, SD 17

NFC Divisional
Seattle at Green Bay
The Seahawks take to the frozen tundra (or at least the sloppy tundra, given the recent mild weather) to take on grizzled pivot Brett Favre and his band of tykes â€" the Packers have the youngest team in the NFL, even with the ageless Favre at quarterback.

Common sense dictates Seattle having an edge, as it is a playoff-tested team, but the Packers have surprised critics all season. Look for the Seahawks to grind it out in a messy defensive struggle.
Prediction: SEA 13, GB 10

James Jones

NY Giants at Dallas
The Giants are a hot team right now. Is it pathetic that “hot” means still narrowly losing to the Patriots and beating a bad Tampa Bay team in the wild card round? Maybe. But this game will be closer than people think.

Dallas has the offence to steamroll opponents, but star receiver Terrell Owens is listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain. If TO is ready to go, expect the visiting Giants to be golf course-bound.
Prediction: DAL 34, NYG 27

AFC Championship
Indianapolis at New England
Since their Week Nine loss to New England, the Colts have quietly put together another excellent season. They have the personnel to beat the Pats, but at the end of the day New England is still a slightly better team.

Peyton Manning won’t allow the Pats’ talented defence to shut him down, and Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders won’t be befuddled the way most secondaries have been this season. However, even with Indy’s pass rush breathing down his neck all game, Tom Brady won’t ruin a perfect season with a loss before the Super Bowl.
Prediction: NE 24, IND 21

NFC Championship
Seattle at Dallas
With another week to get Owens’ ankle up to snuff and the confidence fostered from topping a divisional rival in Texas Stadium, look for the Cowboys to nab this game in a convincing fashion.

Dallas’ formidable pass rush will give Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck ulcers all game, while Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin will be laying the wood like a coked-out porn star on his former team. Bring your Advil and your optimism, Seattle fans: you’re going to need them both.
Prediction: DAL 33, SEA 17

Super Bowl
Dallas vs. New England
Aside from people in the Northeast and the horde of bandwagon types, people want someone to beat the Pats. We at Gazette Sports would love to tell you that will happen, but we just don’t think it will.

The New England Patriots have a very, very good football team. Perhaps most scary of all is the team’s nucleus, which looks to keep the squad among the league’s elite for several years. Sigh.
Prediction: NE 28, DAL 16

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