The Playoff Picture: Wild-Card Weekend

Ken SheehanAnalyst IDecember 30, 2007

Redskins at Seahawks

The Redskins are hot. After winning their last four games they have some serious momentum coming into the playoffs.

The 'Skins have a strong running game and a stingy defense, and  Todd Collins is playing at a high level and making good decisions with the football.

The Seahawks are a team on a mission this year, after having fallen short in years past. Matt Hasselbeck and the receivers have enough to make up for the lack of a running game, and Patrick Kerney and the defense are a force to be reckoned with.

Prediction: The Seahawks should be able to pull it off against the Redskins. Hasselbeck will give the Redskins' D trouble all day, and Todd Collins won't be able to keep up with him if Washington is forced to play catch up.


Jaguars at Steelers

The Jaguars have consistently been one of the best teams in the league this year. With Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, the Jags have a strong run game and a quarterback that doesn't make mistakes in David Garrard. The defense may struggle against the passing game, but can attack any team's rush.

The Steelers have been an inconsistent team this year, but managed to step up in  home games. Ben Roethlisberger has started to show that he is one of the league's better quarterbacks, throwing 32 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. The Steelers main strength is still their defense, ranking third against the pass and first against the run.

Prediction: The Jaguars will pull it off against the Steelers. The Jags have been building steam since the season started where as the Steelers have fallen far short of what was expected of them. Najeh Davenport is a good running back, but he is not the talent that Willie Parker was, and his power style should be easy for the Jaguars to contain. As good a quarterback as Ben Roethlisberger is, he'll have trouble if his offense becomes one dimensional.


Giants at Buccaneers

The Giants proved the can be a powerful team when they stood toe to toe with the Patriots during Saturday's game. Even Eli Manning showed he can preform at a high level, but his inconsistent play will be one of the team's worries in the playoffs.

However, with Brandon Jacobs pounding the ball and Ahmad Bradshaw running outside, the Giants running attack should be able to take some pressure off of Manning. Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora makes the whole defense better, and can give any O-line trouble.

The Buccaneers have a spark plug in Jeff Garcia, who brings an energy to the offense that can get it to compete against any defense, and Earnest Graham, who will come into the game with fresh legs after sitting out against the Panthers this week.

Ranked second against the pass, the Bucs' defense should be able to force Eli into making some bad decisions, something that could be a huge advantage in a playoff game.

Prediction: The Buccaneers defense will capitalize on a shaky Eli Manning, and have a big day against the Giants. Sparked by the play of their defense, Jeff Garcia and his crew will respond, and have just enough to get around the Giants front seven. Taking a page from the Patriots, the Bucs will keep a short passing game going, while testing the defense deep with the occasional long ball to Joey Galloway.


Titans at Chargers

The Titans have been a strong team without being a great team all year. Vince Young hasn't been consistent enough to make a difference as a passer, but his scrambling abilities make him one of the teams best offensive threats. LenDale White has become a very solid back in his second season, and his strong run ability will allow the Titans to keep the game close and give Rob Bironas a chance to win the game.

With Kyle Vandenbosch rushing the passer and Albert Haynesworth dominating offensive lines, the Titans defense has proven it can preform at a high level.

The Chargers have become one of the hottest teams in the league after winning their last six games, including a 30-17 thrashing of Oakland. LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates are the best players in the league at their respective positions, and give the Chargers the ability to break away from any team at any time.

The Chargers' defense has been strong as well. Shawne Merriman and the front seven have been tremendous at creating pressure, allowing guys like Antonio Cromartie to pick up lots of turnovers.

Prediction: The Chargers are hitting their stride at the right time of the year, and with strong units on both sides of the ball, they will give the Titans more than they can handle. The Titans defense won't be able to control LT and Antonio Gates enough to force Philip Rivers into making many mistakes, meaning they'll have to rely too much on their offense, and thus fall to the Chargers.