How quickly the 2007 Super Bowl champ is forgotten
Why even bother having the rest of the NFL playoffs?
After all, no team was able to beat the New England Patriots during the regular season, so why will the postseason be any different?
For one, the Patriots haven’t played a quality AFC opponent for a long time. You have to go all the way back to week No. 9 when a fourth-quarter rally propelled the New England past Indianapolis 24-20. Less-than-impressive wins over Philadelphia, Baltimore, the New York Jets and Miami since then have made the mighty Patriots look vulnerable. They are giving up too many points – 35 against the Giants, 28 vs. the Eagles and 24 to the Ravens.
In fact, don’t be surprised if Jacksonville abruptly ends the Patriots’ perfect season on Saturday. The Jaguars have an ideal mistake-free, ball-control offense that could give the Patriots all kinds of trouble.
If quarterback David Garrard can avoid the two picks he had against Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs and the running game steps it up to its regular-season level, then the AFC Championship game will be heading to Indianapolis.
As for the Colts, where has been the respect for the defending Super Bowl champions?
Isn’t Peyton Manning still behind center and the league’s stingiest defense on the other side of the ball?
All Indianapolis did was win the NFL’s toughest division – the AFC South – and assemble an enviable 13-3 record. Moreover, the Colts did it while many of their stars were going back and forth from the injury list.
Remember, when the Colts lost to the Patriots in November, Marvin Harrison didn’t play and rookie receiver Anthony Gonzalez was injured early in the game.
Now they are healthy, making the Colts the most dangerous team in the final eight.
San Diego will wish it had lost to the Titans last week when the Colts pay back the Chargers for a two-point defeat during the regular season. If the Titans had won, the AFC South would have had three of the four semifinalists. The rugged division made those teams better throughout the season, while New England gained nothing from beating up on the weakest division in football: Miami, the Jets and Buffalo.
If the Jaguars don’t finish off the Patriots’ unbeaten season this weekend, the Colts will deny New England from completing a record 19-0 season.
As for the NFC semifinals, it’s not too smart to pick against Brett Favre this time of the year in Green Bay, and the Giants are peaking at the right time to upset the Dallas Cowboys and Jessica Simpson’s latest boyfriend, Tony Romo.
– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached
at (530) 542-8010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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