Friday, January 11, 2008

NFC Divisional Playoff Preview

Big weekend of football here kids, so its time to preview the NFC games GDB style

Seattle at Green Bay
How Seattle got here: The Seahawks fought off a pesky Redskins team and ended up winning by a comfortable margin. They didn't exactly inspire too much confidence for this week's game though, since they still were trailing into the 4th quarter.
How Green Bay got here: The well-documented resurgence of Brett Favre and the little-documented emergence of Greg Jennings and Ryan Grant, who both played at Pro Bowl levels all year but are still unknowns because of the media's infatuation with Old Number 4. Plus, that defense matured into a very solid and reliable unit.
3 Strengths of Seattle:
1. Seattle has the deepest receiving corps in the NFC. Even though Deion Branch was out last week, they still had DJ Hackett, Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson to turn to. They are going to need to score some points this week so they will have to take advantage of this wealth of talent.
2. Seattle's linebackers are the fastest this side of Indy. When you combine the intelligence of Lofa Tatupu, the speed of Leroy Hill and the playmaking ability of Julian Peterson, you have damn near the best linebacking group in the NFL.
3. Seattle knows Green Bay. Holmgren knows what makes Favre tick. He also knows how to play in Lambeau in January which will help the Seahawks to not be intimidated by the cold weather and mystique of Lambeau Field.
3 Strengths of Green Bay:
1. Ryan Grant. It's amazing how much credit Brett Favre gets for the work Green Bay running backs do behind him. Its no surprise that the Packers greatest success during the Favre era was while they had excellent running back play, from Dorsey Levens to Ahman Green and now Grant, who emerged out of nowhere to make this a complete team
2. Green Bay's defense is steadily improving. Ted Thompson did a great job of reconstructing a woebegone unit from a few years ago. Now he has solid edge rushers and run defense as well as two of the better cover cornerbacks left in the playoffs.
3. Green Bay's home field advantage is still there. Nothing descibes the identity of the Packers more than cold games in January. While it may not affect the Seahawks as much as other teams, it will inspire and energize the Packers to play at a higher level.
3 Weaknesses of Seattle:
1. Oh where have you gone Shaun Alexander. While he was never the fastest running back in the league, it is painfully obvious that he has lost his lateral movement and quickness to hit the cutback holes that are so important in the Seahawks zone running. It's sad to see how far and quickly he has fallen.
2. Matt Hasselbeck still makes stupid plays. There was no excuse for his interception in the fourth quarter, and if Todd Collins doesn't give up 2 housecalls to the Seahawks defense, we may be criticizing Hasselbeck a lot more. Plus we all rememeber his dopey proclamation of Seahawk victory before giving up his own housecall to the Dreadlocked Al Harris
3. Josh Brown, you are still a pussy. Any kicker that needs to wear battery powered leg warmers cannot be trusted to make a big kick this week. If you were afraid of being cold, you should have played baseball in Venezuela, bitch.
3 Weaknesses of Green Bay:
1. Not only is Youth and Young Manhood an awesome CD by the Kings of Leon, it can also describe Green Bay's collective playoff experience. Most of the players on this team have never been in the playoffs, which could lead to some tight sphincters early in this contest.
2. Brett Favre has the chance to kill his team on every drop back. While he has been effective at avoiding the killer interception this year, he wouldnt be Brett Favre if he didnt scare you to death at least 3 times in this game with mind-boggling decisions. He better not make any bad throws around Marcus Trufant, just ask Todd Collins.
3. If Charles Woodson can not be effective in this game, the Packers lose their best defensive player. And with Seattle's array of wide receiving talent, his role is magnified in trying to shut them down. For the Seahawks, passing will be easy if there is no Charles Weezy.
Player to watch for the Seahawks:
Matt Hasselbeck. He didnt look very impressive against the Skins last week, and he will need to be much improved for Seattle to have a chance. This means no stupid turnovers, and accurate and timely passing all day since he probably won't have much of a running game to fall back on.
Player to watch for the Packers:
Charles Woodson. If he can play, and play well, the Packers defense becomes infinitely better. He is such a smart cover corner that he has the potential to shut down an entire half of the field, which would severely limit Hasselbeck's options.
Young Swole Prediction:
Seattle did not impress the Swole One at all last week, and Green Bay has had time to heal and prepare for a one-dimensional offense. Look for Green Bay to come out fast, force a few turnovers and lean on Ryan Grant in the 2nd half to ensure victory. Packers win 27-17
NY Giants at Dallas Cowboys
How the Giants got here: Eli Manning didn't do much last week, but he did not lose the game either. The Giants defense was also impressive and now faces an offense that while they are familiar with, have not been able to stop all that well in their 2 games so far this year.
How the Cowboys got here: For most of the season, they looked like the team to beat in the NFC. December was not kind however, as the Cowboys limped into the playoffs with some shaky performances and ill-timed injuries to important contributors.
3 Strengths of the Giants:
1. Its amazing what happens when the Giants make Brandon Jacobs the focus of the offense. Not only does he wear opponents down with his physicality, but he also makes things much easier for Eli Manning by keeping him out of 3rd and Longs and making the defense press up to stop the run.
2. Plaxico Burress has been dominant in both games this year against the Cowboys. He is too big for Terrence Newman and too fast for Anthony Henry to cover. He provides a huge target for Eli, and should be able to get behind the human matador known as Roy Williams with much ease, as he did in both games this year.
3. The Giants will not be intimidated. Even though they lost in both matchups to the Cowboys, you can guarantee they won't be scared of the 'Boys. This is a team that loves the spotlight, which means they play up in the big games, like this weekend.
3 Strengths of the Cowboys:
1. The Cowboys running game has been vastly overlooked this year. With Terrell Owens possibly hampered by his ankle injury, this running game may have to become the focal point of the Cowboys attack. Marion Barber is an absolute truck and if given the ball enough, could wear down the Giants smallish front seven.
2. The Cowboys rush defense has also been pretty effective all year. Whoever wins the matchup of the Giants offensive line against the Cowboys D Line probably wins this game, and the Boys definitely have the potential to dominate the point of attack.
3. Swole doesnt know why people still think Wade Phillips is a bad coach. He led a mediocre Bills team to the playoffs and should have beaten the Titans, he made the Chargers defense into one of the most fearsome in the league, and has now helped the Cowboys mature into a complete team in 2007. He may not be Bill Belichick, but he aint Tom Coughlin either.
3 Weaknesses of the Giants:
1. The Swole One is not sold on Eli Manning after one playoff win and probably never will be to be honest with you. He's had success against the Cowboys secondary in the past, but its hard to believe the Giants can pull out the win if Eli has to be the one to lead them there.
2. The Giants defense has been awful against the Cowboys this year. The Boys have the linemen to neutralize their speed rush and the downfield weapons to take advantage of the Giants weak corners.
3. Its going to be hard to bring the same intensity the Giants have the last 2 weeks. Yeah its a playoff game, but look at what happened to the Skins last week, they looked completely worn out by the end of that game both mentally and physically. If NY gets down by 2 touchdowns in the 2nd half, I could see the same thing happen to them as what happened to the Skins last week.
3 Weaknesses of the Cowboys:
1. Their is no bigger fraud in the NFL than Roy Williams. Jerry Jones should have either made him a linebacker or taken him out to pasture and shot him years ago. He gives up huge plays every week and is almost constantly out of position. Look for the Giants to throw deep and for Plaxico to have another field day against Ol' Roy.
2. For some reason, the Cowboys start with Julius Jones with Marion Barber on the bench. It is strikingly obvious that Barber is the much better runner of the two, and yet his potential impact on the game is limited because of the presence of Julius Jones and the 10-15 carries he gets every game.
3. Young Swole doesnt really see the point of this whole Romo controversy. Seriously, what NFL quarterback isnt fucking some absolute dime piece every day of the week. Even bums like Brodie Croyle pull in ridiculous trim, so why is Romo somehow different than everyone else. Jessica Simpson's axe wound can't be that good. If a loser like Nick Lachey waited around while she preached abstinence, got married to the bitch, and then subsequently dropped her like a McDonalds wrapper on the side of the highway, she can't be that good. I don't see how this could turn Tony Romo into Jim Sorgi, but maybe i'm underestimating the pussy of a bad singer who's obviously still fucking her dad on the side.
Player to watch for the Giants:
Brandon Jacobs. If he is the focal point of the offense, then the Giants can definitely win this game. If he is an afterthought in the game plan, then the Giants are Texas Toast.
Player to watch for the Cowboys:
Terrell Owens. Young Swole finds it funny how 2 years ago, TO couldn't take a shit without ESPN making it newsworthy. Now that he is the 2nd best reciever in the NFL and has been a solid citizen in Dallas, he doesnt even get mentioned despite the seriousness of his ankle injury. If he's not 100 percent the Cowboys offense is severely limited, because it takes away the space for Jason Witten to operate in the middle of the field. Somehow, this isnt more of story, but then again I dont write the news, Walt Disney does.
Young Swole's Prediction
Despite Terrell Owens not being able to play at 100 percent, and the manufactured controversy that is Tony Romo's love life, Young Sweezy feels the Cowboys have too much for the Giants this week. Eli actually played good in both their matchups this year and the Giants still lost. Maybe they can steal a W if Brandon Jacobs has a God-King performance, but it just seems like the Cowboys have way too many weapons to lose this week. Cowboys win 34-24

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