I think we're far enough into the NFL season that we can start looking at some playoff scenarios.
Heck—I'll just go ahead and simulate the playoffs as if the regular season had ended yesterday.
As a matter of fact, why don't I do this every weekend for the rest of the month?
As December rolls on and the scenarios change, look for my predictions to change as well.
Wild Card Saturday: December 8th
Browns @ Steelers
These two teams fought some tough battles during the regular season, and the Browns were almost able to take down the Steelers in Week 10.
This will be another slugfest, but Pittsburgh's playoff experience, a few timely turnovers, and the hard running of Willie Parker will make the difference.
Lions @ Buccaneers
Detroit found a way to defeat the Bucs in Week Seven despite Jeff Garcia's 316 yards passing and Earnest Graham's 191 total yards—but the Lions won't be able to do it twice.
Wild Card Sunday: December 9th
Jaguars @ Chargers
These two teams met in Week 11, when the Jags held off a late drive which could have tied the game.
The Chargers need LaDainian Tomlinson to be effective in order to win—but the Jaguars are well aware of that, and game plan accordingly.
Seahawks @ Giants
New York's defense carried the Giants to an impressive record, but it won't be enough to get them a victory in my playoffs.
An extremely hard-fought game comes down to the final snap...but in the end the Seahawks find a way to score, while Eli Manning finds a way to throw even more interceptions.
Divisional Round: December 22nd
Jaguars @ Patriots
The Jaguars defense is good—but not that good.
Seahawks @ Cowboys
The aging Seahawks just can't compete with the younger, tougher, and hungrier Cowboys.
The Seattle running game is held under 50 yards—and while the Seahawks are able to exploit Roy Williams' poor coverage skills, it's just not enough.
Divisional Round: December 23rd
Steelers @ Colts
Pittsburgh can be amazingly inconsistent, but they come to play today.
The Steel Curtain stifles Peyton Manning, and the potent Indy offense never fully gets going. While the Colts' D puts up a great performance of its own, Ben Roethlisberger and Co. score just enough points to earn a spot in the AFC Championship Game.
Buccaneers @ Packers
Jeff Garcia and Brett Favre stage a shootout that hearkens visions of the Arena League—but in the end it's the tough running of Ryan Grant that seals the game for the Pack.
AFC Championship Game: December 29th
Steelers @ Patriots
I'd like to say this is a gritty trench battle—but it's not.
Tom Brady repeats his performance from Week Seven against Miami, and the Pats continue their undefeated season.
NFC Championship Game: December 30th
Packers @ Cowboys
An exciting rematch of the NFC Game of the Year—with the same outcome.
These are both excellent teams, but the Cowboys are on a different level. Marion Barber has the game of his life, and Brett Favre comes down with a case of happy feet.
Super Bowl Sunday: January 6th
Patriots vs. Cowboys
Yup, it's the matchup we've been expecting all season: 81 vs. (the other) 81.
Getcha Popcorn Ready.
The Cowboys are fired up, and their rushing attack is key. The age of the Pats' linebackers shows, and Marion Barber continues his barbaric performance from the week before.
The Patriots are able to keep pace with Dallas' potent offense, but Brady and Co. stall on a couple of late drives, turning the ball over on downs at midfield.
Who would've thunk it?: The Dallas Cowboys return to glory.
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