CHFF first reaction: AFC divisional playoffs

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 05, 2008



By ColdHardFootballFacts.com staff
 
Here's our first reaction to the AFC divisional playoff games with the schedule settled following San Diego's 17-6 win over Tennessee Sunday. Jacksonville heads to New England for the Saturday primetime night-cap (though, surely, the CHFF crew will have several more night caps right into Sunday morning ... part of our training regimen and all); and San Diego visits Indianapolis for the early game Sunday.
 
Remember, this is just some immediate reaction, our chance to fill your fertile little mind with some juicy little thoughts. By next Saturday, these games will be broken down so completely you'll confuse it with socialist economic theory.
 
 
Jacksonville at New England, Saturday, 8 p.m.
This will be very, very interesting as Jacksonville, winner of the People's Choice Award for dark-horse Super Bowl contender, flies into the Death Star on a suicide mission to destroy the Evil Empire.
 
It's a primetime Saturday game that will draw huge ratings as the 12 million Americans who live in New England tune into to see this gridiron Godzilla continue its destructive, fiery march through the history books, and 288 million other Americans pray for the monster to succumb to Jacksonville's little Japanese army and collapse into the sea.
 
The Jaguars are good. The Jaguars are hot. The Jaguars are popular. The Jaguars are a plucky little upstart team led by the Cinderella of the 2007 season, quarterback David Garrard, who plays smartly and makes few mistakes.
 
But, remember, we saw a similar story back in 2005.
 
The Jaguars were good. The Jaguars were hot. The Jaguars were led by a quarterback who made few mistakes (Byron Leftwich tossed 15 TDs and 5 picks in 2005).
 
The Jaguars were also 12-4, one game better than this year's 11-5 squad. They walked into Foxboro to battle the 10-6 Patriots – and were totally outclassed, 28-3.
 
We don't see 2007 being any different. The 2007 Patriots are far superior to the 2005 Patriots. And the 2007 Jaguars are at just about the same place as the 2005 Jaguars. But stranger things have happened. And approximately 96 percent of the nation will be rooting for stranger things to happen Saturday night.
 
***
On a side note, in our first reaction to the NFC divisional playoffs published earlier on Sunday, we pointed to a Seahawks video as the worst football-team music video in history. Boy, were we wrong. That Seahawks video is a multi-platinum Grammy winner compared to this Hindenburg of a video that made the rounds in New England before the Patriots' Super Bowl pummeling at the paws of the Bears in January 1986. The true disaster of this video, the production quality, the lame chorus and the musicianship of the tune itself is compounded by the truly cheesy 1980s fashion and hairstyles. No decade did cheese like the 1980s. And you could gather all the dairy farms of France, Italy, Vermont and Wisconsin and they couldn't replicate the primo, Grade A cheese of this video.
 
show video here
 
San Diego at Indianapolis, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Bolts-Colts has quickly turned into one of the high-profile, marquee rivalries in the NFL.
 
It all began, of course, in 2005, when the 8-5 Chargers walked into the RCA Dome and shocked the 13-0 Colts, 26-17, setting in motion the wheels that would unravel what seemed like an unstoppable march by Indy through an undefeated season. The Colts lost the following week, too, and then again to Pittsburgh in their first playoff game. And it was San Diego that proved the Colts were beatable – even at home.
 
The budding rivalry took another step forward here in 2007, when the 4-4 Chargers, fresh off a humiliating 35-17 loss to the Vikings, forced Indy's Peyton Manning into perhaps the worst game of his career (6 INT) on their way to a 23-21 victory that changed the course of San Diego's season. The Chargers have won 7 of 8 games since that evening.
 
And, of course, the Chargers find themselves in something of the same position the Colts found themselves before last year: a high-profile team with great offensive talent that still has a lot to prove in the postseason.
 
San Diego's 17-6 win over Tennessee Sunday in the wildcard round didn't get quite the job done on the respect side. Sure, it was the franchise's first playoff win since the 1994 AFC title game and certainly a great relief for the organization. But, it was a win at home by a favored and more talented team against a 10-6 No. 6 seed that finished third in its division and earned its way into the playoffs by winning its last game over a team (Indy) that sat its key players.
 
For San Diego, it was a step forward. But it's hardly a game to post on your mommy's fridge as a signature victory.  
 
But a win in Indy – a third straight over the mighty Colts that leads to a AFC title-game appearance? – that would earn a great big smiley face.

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