RossCode Picks - NFL Conference Championships

posted on 01/18/06 at 10:36:32 pm by Joel Ross

So here we are. Down to three games left in the NFL season. How bittersweet. I wish there was more! On the other hand, these are the three most important games of the season, so that's a positive. And they should definitely be good games.

I wonder what the oddsmakers will think of the NFC/AFC match up. The talk all season has been that the AFC is far superior to the NFC, but that doesn't seem to be the talk now. Seattle is a serious contender - they had the second best record in the league, which is a little deceiving when you get four extra bye weeks, also known as games against Arizona and San Fransisco. But it's the NFL - if you're here, you're a good team. No one gave Dilfer and the Ravens a chance against New York a few years back, and we all know how that turned out (if you don't, Baltimore won. I try to pick examples that prove my point!).

  • Carolina vs. Seattle (-4) (43.5 O/U): The key here will be Shawn Alexander. Will he play, and if so, can he last a whole game (and carry a full load) against the hard hitters on Carolina's defensive line? Or better yet, can the Seahawk offensive line do what they've done all year, and ensure that Alexander doesn't have to worry about defenders hitting him (he has roughly 15 touchdowns this year where no one had an opportunity to tackle him - basically untouched). If that happens, the passing game opens up for Hasselback, who proved he can still be pretty good even if the running game is a little off. On the other hand, if Carolina can stop the run, that's going to make Hasselback's job quite a bit tougher. And the key for Seattle's defense? How about a deep safety? Don't let Steve Smith get behind your defense. And make sure your corners stay on their feet. It's tough to defend a pass sitting on your butt. Just ask Charles Tillman.
  • Pittsburgh vs. Denver (-3) (41 O/U): This will be a rough one. Not only that, but it's?a complete adjustment for the Steelers. So far, they've played Palmer and Cincinnati, and Manning and the Colts. Now they play Plummer and the Broncos. Notice a difference there? No one talks about Plummer as the main guy in Denver. They're the first run-first team the Steelers are going to play in the playoffs, and not only that, you can't prepare for just one back. They'll throw anyone who can hold a football in the backfield, and gain six yards with him. That's a change for Pittsburgh. Blitzing the quarterback over and over won't cut it. Plummer is known for his mistakes when under pressure, but that's a reputation he's shaking with his play this year. Expect him to make smart decisions, even if that means throwing the ball away. His offense is good enough to make up for those plays.

Based on my picks, we should see a Seattle / Denver Super Bowl, but like I said, these will be good match ups, so it won't be surprising to see them go the other way!

Technorati Tags: | | | | | |

Categories: Football