MacArthur – If you’d like to draw up a list of teams Indianapolis would rather not face in the first round of the playoffs, then my friends, the Kansas City Chiefs would be near the top of that list. The Colts’ woes against the run are well-documented. Moreover, the kind of running game that gives them the most trouble is the power run with a bruising back slamming between the tackles. Meet Mr. Larry Johnson! Trent Green is gimping around on a sore ankle, so head coach Herm Edwards will likely have him on a short leash. The Colts have Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and some prayers. Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and James Sanders return for this game, but it is unclear how well they will perform coming off injuries. Neither Tony Dungy nor protégé Herm Edwards have covered themselves with postseason glory, but Dungy and Manning are more desperate. I cannot believe the Colts are actually laying seven, and I would gobble them up in a heartbeat. Kansas City Reynolds – I think Kansas City’s running game poses a huge problem for Indianapolis. The Colts’ shaky run defense will either fold under pressure or rise to the challenge. I just don’t know. I do know the Colts and Tony Dungy are under a lot of pressure this year after some poor performances. They will either make a stand or fold. I just don’t know. I’ll give the Colts the edge because they are at home and have Peyton Manning. Wouldn’t be surprised if K.C. wins, though. Indianapolis
Flynn – Kansas City’s defense is suspect against the run, but the problem is Indianapolis can’t run the ball well this season. The Colts aren’t heading into the playoffs with momentum and have one-and-done written all over them. However, the Chiefs aren’t the best road team in the league (3-5), and the Colts are pretty good at home (8-0). Indy might survive one more week, but the Colts aren’t Super Bowl bound. Indianapolis
Dallas at Seattle (Saturday 8:00 ET)
MacArthur – This is an upset special. Both Seattle and Dallas backed their way into the playoffs, and there is every reason to like The Seahawks at home, where they traditionally play well. The problem is, the Hawks haven’t been playing well anywhere for well over a month. I was not impressed with the win at Tampa Bay last week. The Seahawks kicked way too many field goals on offense, and the defense was gashed for almost 100 yards by the Bucs’ running attack in the first half. A more efficient offense than Tampa Bay’s would have hung some big numbers on Seattle. To top things off, Seattle’s secondary is absolutely decimated. Tony Romo has made a habit of turning the ball over lately, but TO and Terry Glenn will be so wide open he won’t miss them in Seattle. Look for the Cowboy rushing attack to control the clock and keep the Seahawk offense on the sidelines. The Tuna swims for another week. Dallas
Reynolds – I think Seattle got its groove back a little bit in Tampa despite the injuries in the secondary. Expect Dallas receivers Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn to go to work downtown. But Seattle is playing this game at home and Dallas’ defense has been shredded lately. I think the homefield advantage will help Seattle win a shootout. Seattle
Flynn – Seattle has lost three straight games until it met a woeful Tampa Bay team in the regular season finale at Raymond James Stadium. Still, the Seahawks weren’t that impressive in the win over the Bucs. Dallas fell asleep at the wheel vs. Detroit last week, and it’s too balanced a team to put back-to-back poor performances together, especially in the playoffs, where Bill Parcells does his best work. Dallas
New York Jets at New England (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)
MacArthur – My friends, the New England Patriots are riding gloriously towards Miami and a Super Bowl XLI championship. First stop is a home game against the hated Jets. Think hate is too strong a word? Bill Belichick refused to mention Jets coach Eric Mangini by name this season until yesterday, earning the latter the moniker “he who must not be named” in the Boston papers. For his part, Mangini referred to New England as “that other place” until yesterday, when both coaches did their best to swallow the bile and make the story not about them. Ah, but this Border War, as it has been called since the Tuna bolted the Patriots ten seasons ago, still has tremendous intensity. Mangini’s upstart Jets scoring an upset win at Razor Field in Foxborough in November only added fuel to the fire. What’s different this time? Well, Ty Warren, the best defensive lineman many people never heard of, is playing. Richard Seymour is healthy. The playing surface at Gillette is now FieldTurf instead of mud. Tom Brady is 33-1 all-time playing on turf. Oh, and Belichick really, really wants to beat the Jets’ brains out. Lay the points. This will be a double-digit smackdown. New England
Reynolds – Wow. What a great matchup. These two teams split their series this year, but New York wound up winning at New England. I think the Patriots are ready this time around and their postseason experience will prevail. As good of a season as Chad Pennington has had, he’s still not Tom Brady. New England
Flynn – This could be the game of the week. The Patriots are tough to beat at home, especially in the playoffs. But the Jets defeated the Patriots in New England during the regular season, and they are 6-2 on the road. Eric Mangini has done a masterful job getting the Jets to the playoffs in his first season, but the post-season is new for his team. The same can’t be said for the Patriots, who went into the playoffs playing some good football. Experience will pay off for the Patriots at home. New England
New York Giants at Philadelphia (Sunday 4:30 PM ET)
MacArthur – Bucs fans get another chance to look at some groceries this week. Jeff Garcia and his surprising Eagles will be on display as they host the Giants. This is another rivalry game, but unless Tiki Barber decides to rush for over 230 yards again and win a game all by himself, the Giants should spiral to their final implosion. They are banged up on offense and defense, and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will put the game in the hands of Eli Manning, who will connect with green jerseys one too many times. Brian Westbrook should run wild against the Giants D, and the Eagles will remember the improbable comeback-win the Giants scored at the Linc earlier this season and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Philadelphia
Reynolds – I’ve done a 180 on Jeff Garcia, and I’m not the only one. In a battle of QBs, I’ll take the red hot Garcia over the slumping Eli Manning. The Giants did the right thing by getting Tiki Barber the ball last week in a crucial win over Washington. But Barber won’t have the success he had last week against a stout Eagles defense coached by Jim Johnson. With Barber contained, the game rests in the hands of Manning – gulp. Philadelphia
Flynn – These teams clashed a few weeks ago, and the result won’t be any different this time around. Philadelphia won’t allow Tiki Barber to put up 200-plus rushing yards like he did vs. Washington last week. Barber might have a good game, but Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia will take care of the football and make enough plays to win at home. Philadelphia
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