Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday's news, Weekend picks

Both Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson missed practice again Friday - as did placekicker Nate Kaeding – for San Diego, putting their status for Sunday's playoff game in doubt.

Tomlinson, in fact, is listed as doubtful to play. Gates is questionable. Kaeding is probable, but will likely be limited.

I wouldn't expect Tomlinson to play with his torn groin and even if he does, he won't last long.

Gates, who already had a high ankle sprain, now also has a sore Achilles tendon. I would expect him to try to play, but he will be very limited.

With that in mind here are the much-awaited playoff picks for this weekend:

Baltimore at Tennessee: I've gone back and forth on this game all week long. On the radio Tuesday, I picked Tennessee, 17-13, then I started leaning the other way later in the week, especially if Tennessee center Kevin Mawae is unable to play. That looks as if it will be the case, so I can't see the Titans pulling this one out without perhaps their best offensive lineman. Baltimore will shut down Tennessee's running game and force Kerry Collins to win the game. I don't see that happening again - though he led them to 10 fourth quarter points in a 13-10 win over the Ravens earlier this season. Take Baltimore, 17-10

Arizona at Carolina: To me, this is the easiest game of this weekend to pick. Arizona manned up and won last week at home as I expected, but on the road at Carolina, that's not going to happen again. Carolina played awful at home offensively in the first half and still managed to beat the Cardinals at home earlier this season. The Panthers should be able to do so again. Anquan Boldin will try to play with his injured hamstring, but it's going to be difficult. Take Carolina, 31-17

Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants: This is another game I changed my mind about this week, but this time due to the weather forecast. There's supposed to be sleet and snow at the Meadowlands Sunday. That will make things awfully difficult for a team that doesn't run the ball - like Philadelphia - to get anything going. I think the Giants are ripe for the picking without Plaxico Burress in the lineup and picked the Eagles in an upset earlier this week. But I don't see that happening now. Take the Giants and their running game, 20-16

San Diego at Pittsburgh: My thoughts on this game really haven't changed since earlier in the week. I just don't know how San Diego is going to score much once the Steelers make them one dimensional, as they will do stopping Darren Sproles. Philip Rivers and the boys have been a nice comeback story, but people forget, this is where this team was supposed to be all along. They just underachieved for much of the season. The Steelers defense will lock the Chargers down and Willie Parker and the running game will control the clock. Take Pittsburgh, 24-13

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can think of nothing better than for you to go 8/8 in your picks so far.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

Great insight into the SD injuries. Do you expect Michael Bennett to get significant carries or will Sproles take most of the workload?

Patrick said...

I agree with pretty much everything again, except I think Philly might pull it off. I live in Phily and the weather just won't bother them as much. Sure it might make passing a little more difficult, but that is true for the Giants too. The Eagles D has been tremendous at times. I think Philly will take it in a nailbiter, but I won't be shocked if the Giants win.

If the Steelers lose, it will be because of turnovers. I don't expect that to happen, but that has to be SD's key to winning this one.

I am cheering for Tenessee and think that one could go either way. If the Titans get Flacco to make mistakes, and with their D they can, then it will doom the Ravens. Go Titans, I want the Ravens gone and I want a rematch with the Titans when it counts. I think everyone on the Steelers would like that as well.

Dale Lolley said...

I would expect them to try and get Bennett five to 10 carries and also to take Sproles off kickoff and punt returns unless it's a critical situation.

I really liked Philly in that game, Patrick, until I saw the forecast.

Patrick said...

Dale, I just don't think the weather will effect these two teams. Unless the weather is absolutely brutal, and that will take a lot, I just don't see it being that much of a difference. I still like Philly, and maybe thats damn near 26 years living in this city as a Steelers fan, but if the Giants win it wouldn't surprise me.

Bottom line for me is, when two divisional teams play 3 times, it is a toss up. That exact line of thinking is why I don't want to see Baltimore.

I have a question for you though. What is your opinion on OT in the playoffs? I have no problem with sudden death in the regular season and I'll link you to Mike Florio from profootballtalk.com debating the issue:

http://www.profootballtalk.com/2009/01/09/overtime-change-is-overdue/#comments

I like his arguments. But as an argumentative bastard, let me state my opinion. The NFL is a business. During the regular season, they can't risk 5-6 hours game too often. So I have no problem with sudden death deciding regular season games. However, the playoffs are a different animal with HUGE blocks of time being dedicated to football. Bill Cowher once said that he thinks OT should be one team needs to beat the other. That is, if you get the ball first score and get 7, the other team needs to get 8. If you get 8, game over. The other team can't beat it. Obviously then, a FG in OT on the 1st drive sets you in a dengerous position. If no one scores after the first two posessions, then sudden death.

I see nothing wrong with this and it is beyond me why the NFL doesn't adopt this at least for playoff football games.

Like Florio said, one day a SB is going to be decided on the team that wins the coin flip and kicks a FG to win. And that will cause a ruckus.

PLEASE prove me wrong on why such a system wouldn't work in the playoffs?

Dale Lolley said...

I can't see having one set of rules for the regular season and another for the playoffs. Sounds too much like hockey to me.
If you change it in the playoffs, change it in the regular season as well.

Anonymous said...

13-10. Almost the same as 17-10

I'm believing in your predictions Dale

Dale Lolley said...

Cruising along until the Panthers decided not to show up.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm not so confident about tomorrow, I thought you were golden.

Dale Lolley said...

Hey, everybody misses one once in a while. I'm still 5-1.

Greg Mercer said...

Thank you Delhomme. in the first two rounds of the playoffs, one QB usually screws up each weekend costing his team the game.

last week it was Pennington. This week it's Delhomme. Thankfully, he had the game I feared Ben would have.

Go Steelers!

Patrick said...

ah Dale, you never answered my question. How about for both then, still agree with Sudden Death?

adamg said...

Having also lived in Philly a long time until recently, I agree the Eagles won't be too bothered by the weather. They've been running this offense for 10 years, all with McNabb at the helm, in all kinds of weather.

As for OT, the NFL could eliminate FGs for OT making every team have to score TDs to win. At least that way, having to kick off wouldn't mean seeing your opponent move maybe 50 yds and kick at FG to win. They could also do like the NHL and play one shortened fixed OT period, say 8 minutes, where each team likely would at least get the ball once before moving into sudden death.

Dale Lolley said...

I wouldn't mind seeing the NFL go to a college-style of overtime with both teams getting an opportunity to kickoff and have the ball. Once both teams have kicked off once and had the ball on offense once, just play the game until somebody wins.

Dale Lolley said...

Looks like the Giants are going down in flames. Should have stuck with my original thought on that one. Philly's CBs have handled the Giants receivers as I felt they would all day long.