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2005 NFL playoffs, NFL postseason, playoff predictions, divisional game, Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Broncos

2005 NFL Playoffs Preview: Divisional Round

Sports Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

UPDATE: Everyone was on the Seahawks last week, and that turned out well, even though the 'Skins gave Seattle more of a game than most people hoped, but the Broncos and Steelers had just about everyone fooled. Only three BE staffers correctly predicted Denver's upset over the Pats, and just one, albeit a Pittsburgh fan, picked the Steelers over the Colts. As for the Bears/Panthers game? That was an even split, 5-5, but they ended up putting more points on the board than anyone thought was possible. Damn, Steve Smith's good. To see what everyone had to say about last week's games, click here.

Finally, looking to talk some smack about your team? Click the "TALK SMACK" links below for each game, and visit The Scores Report, the National Sports Blog, afterward the games to talk about what happened.

Redskins @ Seahawks
Saturday, 4:30 (Fox)
Patriots @ Broncos
Saturday, 8:00 (CBS)
Steelers @ Colts
Sunday, 1:00 (CBS)
Bears vs. Panthers
Sunday, 4:30 (Fox)
Gerardo Orlando
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: This should be a mismatch. Washington needs to find an offense on the long flight to Seattle. Their defense is tough, but not tough enough to stop Seattle’s offense.
PATRIOTS: This should be a great game, but the Patriots look as tough as ever. Their defense is finally healthy again and it shows on the field. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. The Pats will win a close one.
COLTS: Indy should handle the Steelers at home, and this game will be over early if the Colts can again jump out to a quick lead. Look for a much closer and tougher game, however, if the Steelers can take the lead.
PANTHERS: The Bear defense is tough but it’s over-rated. Their offense is mediocre and Rex Grossman is untested. Meanwhile, the Panthers are on a roll. The Bears will make a game out of it, but the Panthers will be in control by the fourth quarter.
Jamey Codding
Managing Editor
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: I actually think the 'Skins have a shot. Nuts, right? Do I think they're going to win? No. But I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe I'm not sold on Seattle, winner of one of the worst divisions in football, or maybe I like Washington's defense too much. Regardless, I see the Seahawks winning this one but it won't be the laugher everyone thinks it'll be. So the 'Skins couldn't score on Tampa Bay? That's the top-ranked defense in the league. Seattle can give up some points. Of course, they can score too, and they'll need a late Shaun Alexander plunge to win this "gimme."
BRONCOS: It has to end sometime, right? Yes, the Patriots are playing well, and yes they're healthy on defense, but the Broncos are a damn good football team. Mike Anderson can pound you 25 times a game, Tatum Bell can take it to the house anytime he gets the ball, and Jake Plummer's playing the best football of his career. It'll be a high-scoring affair, and with Corey Dillon hurting and the game being played at Mile High, I've got to believe the Broncos have a better shot than people are giving them. This is the year Plummer matures and Brady tastes defeat. Ch-ch-changes....
COLTS: A month ago the Colts were invincible, having a dome-covered path to the Super Bowl placed in front of them with seemingly no worthy opponent in sight. But all the adversity they've faced could have a positive impact on the the team. They're united now more than ever, and they all want to win more for their coach than for themselves. Combine that kind of motivation with all that damn skill and you've got a dangerous team. They've got the speed to contain Willie Parker, enough toughness to handle Bettis, and you know they'll score points. I'm picking the Colts from here on out, no matter the opponent.
BEARS: My head's telling me Carolina, but my heart keeps saying Bears. They remind me of one of those teams that defies logic, that proves good defenses beat good offenses, and a great defense is damn near unbeatable. The Ravens did it a few years ago. I know all about Steve Smith, and DeShaun Foster is starting to open some eyes, but the Bears have the Defensive POY and four more Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball. If Rex Grossman, Thomas Jones and Muhsin Muhammad give the D 10 points, that may be enough. NFC Championship, Bears' defense vs. Seattle's offense. Sweet.
David Medsker
Senior Editor
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: Washington’s win over Tampa Bay was the mother of all examples of ‘better lucky than good.’ The run ends here. 136 yards of total offense? Please. Washington’s defense will be all jacked up to shut down Shaun Alexander, thus forcing Seattle to beat them using Matt Hasselbeck. The only problem with that strategy is that Seattle can and will beat them using Matt Hasselbeck. Alexander isn’t going to have too much trouble, either.
PATRIOTS: This is really simple: until someone beats New England in the playoffs, I am going to keep picking them. Denver beat New England earlier in the year, but not by much, and that New England team was a shell of the team that they face this week. I do wish the Pats would quit this whole ‘no respect’ nonsense, though. It’s beneath them.
COLTS: That was quite a display Pittsburgh put on in Cincinnati last week. That cross-field flea flicker had to have been devastating to watch from the Bengals sideline (“Noooooooooooo!”). And while they’re playing their best ball of the year right now, I still think Indy has too much to play for. For their coach, for their run at a near-perfect season, and last but not least, for Peyton Manning to get the monkey off his back once and for all.
PANTHERS: I lived in Chicago the last time they sent a team with a big-time defense into the playoffs with a bye week, and promptly got the living snot kicked out of them by Philadelphia. I expect the same to happen here. Sure, Chicago manhandled Carolina earlier in the season, but da Bears simply do not have enough offensive weapons to combat Carolina’s overall attack. Besides, it’s Chicago. If they get a World Series and a Super Bowl championship in the same year, the end, as they say in “28 Days Later,” is seriously fucking nigh.
Jason Zingale
Associate Editor
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: If the Indianapolis Colts weren’t around, the Seahawks would probably be the best team in the NFL. And after last week’s horrible performance by the Redskins’ offense, I can’t imagine they’ll have what it takes to outscore Seattle and their deadly running game. Still, Shaun Alexander could have an off-day, and if he does, look for Brunell and Co. to pounce on the chance of stealing a spot in the NFC Championship game.
PATRIOTS: After the Patriots' blistering performance last week in Jacksonville, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t do the same thing to Denver. Brady is on a roll right now, and with a majority of their defense back in the lineup, they shouldn’t have much trouble disposing of the Jake “The Snake” Plummer and the Broncos. This could come down to the final minutes of the game if Denver plays smart, but that just gives New England even better odds to move on to the next round.
COLTS: With so many good match-ups this week, the Steelers/Colts game seems to be the least of anyone’s worries, but Pittsburgh has emerged as a solid team these past few weeks. If they can manage an early lead, they might just be able to squeeze past the Colts for the win. Then again, who doesn’t want to see Indianapolis face off against the Patriots with a ticket to the Super Bowl up for grabs? Dungy’s team will probably plow right over the Steelers, but it could be interesting.
PANTHERS: I mentioned last week that one thing separated the Carolina Panthers from the NY Giants: Steve Smith. Well, Smith had one of his best games of the year and the Panthers absolutely dominated New York. The same holds true for their game against Chicago, and although the Bears have a much stronger defensive unit, look for Smith to make or break this game. It’s become quite apparent that Delhomme can no longer depend on his running backs to shoulder some of the load, so you can bet that he’ll be looking to Smith to win this one again.
John Paulsen
Contributing Editor
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: Want to fly cross-country to play the best team in your conference? That’s the challenge facing the Redskins this week, after they managed only 120 yards of offense in their win against Tampa Bay. They’ll fare better on that side of the ball against Seattle, but they aren’t going to hold the Seahawks to 10 points. Seattle wins.
PATRIOTS: Most people outside of the Northeast are sick of seeing the Patriots win. They do play the game the “right way” (not unlike Duke basketball, the Spurs and the Pistons), forsaking personal ego for the good of the team. This is an extremely tough game to pick and I think it will come down to the Denver running game against the Pats run D. New England should have just enough to get the win on the road.
COLTS: Will the Colts be ready to play after phoning it in the last month? I think so. The Colts D is going to make running the ball a little more difficult on the Steelers than the Bengals did. The bottom line is: if the Colts play well, they’ll win. I think they’ll play well.
PANTHERS: Don’t get me wrong, Chicago has a great defense, but Carolina’s is pretty good as well and they’ve got some players on the offensive side of the ball that can put up some points. I think Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and DeShaun Foster will do enough to get a tough win.
Mike Farley
Staff Writer
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: The Skins’ luck is about to run out, as their chances of beating Seattle are about the same as Kurt Cobain singing the national anthem. They have six victories in a row, including a road win at Tampa in the wild card round, but their offense was anemic against the Bucs. This weekend they get to face a Seattle offense that is well rested and has the NFL’s best running back in Shaun Alexander. Seattle will be hosting the NFC Championship game.
PATRIOTS: The Broncos have proven that they can beat the Pats, as they did earlier in the season. But that was during that stretch when New England had their second string defense in. Now the Pats are on a roll after demolishing Jacksonville, and even though Denver had two weeks off and is about as explosive offensively as any team in the league, Belichick’s boys will find a way to win and move on to the AFC Championship.
COLTS: The Colts have it all: offense, defense, a loud home dome, and the emotional factor of getting behind a coach they all admire who just lost his teenage son. They surely didn’t win 14 games by mistake, and are on a mission this year to finally get to the big show and win it all. The Steelers pulled off an upset against the Carson-less Bengals on Sunday, but look for a repeat of their Monday night game against Indy earlier this season when the Colts dominated.
BEARS: It was painful to watch the Panthers annihilate my Giants on Sunday, but the G-men were thoroughly out game-planned and just didn’t show up. Carolina is showing signs of their Super Bowl season two years ago, but they now have to face a Bears defense that, compared to the Giants, more closely resembles a brick wall. Chicago is going to win no matter who the quarterback is, with their defense possibly scoring all of the game’s points.
Red Rocker
Staff Writer
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: The spitting incident with Sean Taylor will be a distraction this week, but not as big a distraction as the fact that Seattle is a supremely better team playing at home. Shaun Alexander is the man and will make a very good 'Skins defense look bad. Seahawks roll.
BRONCOS: Great match-up, maybe even a shootout. While everyone thinks the Pats are coming on strong just in the nick of time, Mile High in January is a daunting task. Jake Plummer has more to prove this post-season than anyone. Vegas has this one right...Broncos win on a late field goal.
COLTS: Nobody is playing better than the Steelers right now. Their fans even admit they're a better team than this time last year when they were 16-1 heading into the AFC Championship game. But the Colts have too much fire power, way too good a defense, and the ghost of James Dungy on the sideline. Take the Colts, but I wouldn't give 9 points.
BEARS: Da Bears a home favorite in the playoffs?! Yep, that's the kind of year it's been in the NFL. Urlacher and company take care of business here (in a painfully low-scoring affair) before seeing their coach turn back into a pumpkin out in Seattle next week.
Jason Thompson
Staff Writer
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: The Seahawks deserve this win. Okay, so I was wrong about Washington last week, but I definitely think the Seahawks can more than shut the Redskins down. Matt Hasselbeck is reason number one. And let’s not forget the Seahawks’ offensive line is the tops. If anything, Washington has more than met its match here and will be shut down fairly early. Don’t expect too close of a game here, unless I’m completely wrong again and the Redskins manage to get luckier than they deserve.
BRONCOS: I’m actually going to go against the grain here and give it to Denver. I don’t see the Pats going all the way this year. I’ll probably be proven wrong having said that, but I think Denver is tough enough to keep Brady and co. at bay. Belichick gets points for doing his usual remarkable coaching thing, but somewhere, sometime, even that has to give out. I say that time is now and we’re going to see Denver step to the next game. At least Brady has all those credit card endorsements to keep him and his team warm enough until next year.
STEELERS: Like I’d really go against my home team here. I’m already sick of hearing all the Bengals fans bitch about our boys tearing up Carson Palmer’s knee, so I’m more than ready to see us take it to the next level and get past Peyton Manning. Yes, we lost to the Colts during our first match-up, but I think that’s actually a good thing. Roethlisberger got to experience Manning up front and get splattered at the same time, and this time around I believe the Steelers will come out stronger and more than ready to take this game. Of course, we could always just break Peyton’s arms if need be.
BEARS: Here’s another one where I’m torn between the two teams, but at the end of the day I think the Bears will take it. They’ve had a really good year and fought hard to get this far. And while Carolina’s performance last week was pretty tight, I don’t think they’re going to be able to cough up the goods against Chicago’s top of the line defense. And even though this is Chicago’s first playoff in a few years, they should be more than ready to take the win here and put Carolina to bed once and for all..
Bill Clark
Staff Writer
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: The Redskins will have to play three times as well as they did last week to have a chance in this one. The 'Skins have a great defense (how else could they have possibly won that game last week?), but I expect Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck to both have an excellent day. On top of that, the Seahawks are 8-0 at home this season, and it'd be a shocker if that streak broke in the heart of the playoffs.
PATRIOTS: The Patriots' bandwagon is near capacity and I'm part of it. There is just simply not any reason to pick against one of the best postseason teams in the history of the league. Detractors can't even play the weather card this time around since it will be nice and chilly in Denver -- right at home for New England. It will be close, but Belichick will outcoach Shanahan to victory.
COLTS: The biggest question is the emotional state of the Colts, still reeling from the tragic death of coach Tony Dungy's son. The team hasn't played a truly meaningful game in over a month, but I'm hard-pressed to believe that they won't come out guns-a-blazin' for their coach. I expect Peyton Manning to lead the team to victory through the air, especially if they can bust a few huge plays. They'll have to be on the lookout for that Steelers trickery, however. This will be closer than people may think.
PANTHERS: This is the trickiest game of the weekend and probably the most evenly matched as well -- at least defensively. Carolina flat-out owned the G-men last weekend, and I think the momentum will carry forward as they take on a tough Bears defense. The Bears offense will have to wake up if they even want to be in this game as I'm sure Panthers QB Jake Delhomme and WR Steve Smith have some trickery planned. I'll take Carolina in another game that could wind up coming down to the wire.
R. David Smola
Staff Writer
Week Two:
SEAHAWKS: Last week I said that Greg Williams’ defense couldn’t play offense. I lied. This week they face a much more complicated and productive offense in the Seattle Seahawks. Matt Hasselback and Shaun Alexander are a part of the NFL’s number-one scoring offense, and the D ain't too shabby either. Seattle will get it done this week because the Washington offense really isn’t participating. The game will be close for a while before the Seahawks run away with it.
PATRIOTS: Sixteen-time World Heavyweight Champion and wrestling icon Ric Flair has always said, “In order to be the man, you have to beat the man. Woooooooo!” Until Tom Brady finally loses a playoff game or faces Peyton Manning indoors, I won’t pick against him. At some point, Jake Plummer is going to realize he is Jake Plummer and do something incredibly risky and even more costly. The last time they played (week six of the regular season), Denver won 28-20. New England wasn’t as healthy as they are now. I like the Pats to stay alive for another week.
COLTS: Pittsburgh can’t score with the Colts, and they won’t be able to keep the ball away from Manning Incorporated because the Indy run defense is much improved from last year. In the week 12 Indy victory (26-7), the Steelers only rushed for 86 yards, forcing big Ben to throw 26 times. That recipe will be repeated and the score will be similar. The Colts will welcome the Patriots into their house for the AFC championship game this year, and Peyton gets another chance to lose the 500-pound Belichick on his back.
BEARS: Every logical brain cell tells me the Panthers are going to advance and dispatch the Bears. Jake Delhomme was sacked eight times and the Panthers were held to 55 rushing yards in the Bears 13-3 win over Carolina earlier this year. It would be hard to imagine the Panthers struggling that much again in the playoff rematch. Every first-time playoff quarterback has taken the pipe in the playoffs and Rex Grossman is in his first rodeo. However, as a life long Chicagoan, I say to hell with logic. Mushin Muhammad dropped five passes the first time these teams met and is bound and determined to have the game of his life under the big spotlight. The Bears spat in the face of every pundit who said Chicago sucked at the beginning of the year (paging Dr. Z). They then gave the finger to every expert who said they couldn’t beat a good team by defeating Carolina and Tampa in successive weeks. Now every national expert is saying the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl as if this game is a forgone conclusion. I say the Bears are now going to moon those Monday morning quarterbacks and win 5-3 by scoring a safety with 35 seconds left in regulation.





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