The Office Pool: Divisional Playoffs

by Rick Rockwell

Last week proved to be a lesson in the importance of home field advantage in the playoffs. So this week, here's a demonstration in how to learn a lesson.

Last Week: .500
This Season: .592

Game of the Week: Patriots at Chargers

If the Chargers are headed to the Super Bowl, they will have to get past the Patriots, who have collected three championship rings since 2001. Last week, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick showed he knows how to reach into his bag of tricks when necessary. Even if they might be out-coached in this match-up, the Chargers have more talent at just about every key spot on the field except quarterback. Sure, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady should be in the Pro Bowl with the Chargers' Philip Rivers. Both should light it up this weekend, although don't look for a high score because both teams have tough defenses. Don't forget, the Chargers have Superman on their team...oh sorry...it's just that running back LaDainian Tomlinson looks like a superhero. He'll be the difference. The Chargers will squeeze this out by less than a field goal.

Saturday: Colts at Ravens

Okay, this column was wrong last week. The Colts' defense was just asleep for most of the regular season. Here's the question: will they be awake for the rest of the playoffs or will they go back into hibernation? This is a classic match-up: the Colts' explosive offense against the league's top defense in the Ravens. This looks like a white knuckle ride, because Colts quarterback Peyton Manning likely won't have another ugly game like last week. If he does, the Colts won't survive. This contest will also be one to settle those arguments over whether you'd rather have Manning or Steve McNair as your playoff quarterback. I'm going with the Ravens' McNair. The Ravens win, but by less than a touchdown.

Saturday Night: Eagles at Saints

The Eagles, the hottest team in the National Football Conference (NFC) head into the Superdome for a rematch. During the season, this came down to a last minute field goal by the Saints. And it is very hard to beat a team twice in the National Football League (NFL). So the Saints will have their hands full with the Eagles. But the NFL's Coach of the Year Sean Payton (we had hoped that would be the call) has had two weeks to put a game plan together for this one. The Saints have too many weapons and should win in a close one, just like last time, but by more than a field goal.

Seahawks at Bears

There are three factors working against the Bears right now: 1) their quarterback Rex Grossman seems to be regressing; 2) as noted, it is very difficult to beat a team twice in the NFL and the Bears clubbed the Seahawks back in October; and 3) last week, the Seahawks showed they are the luckiest team in the league. So all those factors will keep this close for at least a half, if not three quarters. But in the end, the Bears defense and Coach Lovie Smith will figure a way to get this done and blow it open for a big win.

Get ready for the last four-game playoff menu of the season. Enjoy!

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