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Weekend Playoff Preview and Predictions!

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It's a little quiet around here with the Steelers missing the playoffs and Blitz dilligently working on our year-end positional reviews (cough... cough), but we're all still football starved - no? Well, I at least know that I'm still football starved. As a hybrid junkie, I had college pigskin to keep things lively, too - but even that's fallen by the wayside now.

So let's turn our attention to the outstanding four games of playoff football we're about to be treated to this weekend. Readers - Steelers fan or not - feel free to jump in here with thoughts, predictions, criticisms of the author, and general commentary on all things football.

Lots of good action, so let's start with a Priority Viewing Guide. Lists? [marv alberts voice]Yesss![/marv alberts voice]

If you miss it, you hate football. And probably yourself.

New England at San Diego This is must-see football. No two ways about it. Smuggypants McBelichick v. Lovable Loser McSchottenheimer. Can you tell who I'm rooting for?

Indianapolis at Baltimore Oh, man! Who to root for?!? On the one hand, we have American Express representative Peyton Manning, who's hard to root for unless you're a born Colts fan. On the other hand: Baltimore. The Ravens. The most vile franchise in the American Football Conference. Can I root for a tie? A double forfeit due to too many unlikable players? If I were Roger Goodell, I'd cancel this game and make the Patriots-Chargers game the AFC title bout.

Intelligent reader: "If you hate these teams so much, why are you classifying it as Must See TV?"

Bitter, snarky blog author: Because one of these teams will lose. And I wouldn't miss the end of the season for one of these two teams for the world.

This is good football. Barring your mother's second wedding or a death in the family, you need to be watching.

Philadelphia at New Orleans The antithesis of the last game discussed. I'm a gigondo Drew Brees fan, for one thing. And I'm equally enamored of the emerging "Holy shit Philly might win a title with Jeff Garcia! How effing funny would that be in terms of dealing with McNabb?" story. I'll pull for the Saints, but I won't be one bit disappointed if we get a Garcia-led Eagles team in the NFC title game. Then the fun -really- starts.

I won't blame you if you just read the box score.

Seattle at Chicago What sucks about this game is that Dallas-Chicago would have made for an interesting story. This? Meh. I'm pretty neutral. Our best hope for entertainment is a colossal Rex Grossman meltdown... coupled with a Bears win. Don't think I'm not rooting for this.

Four Opportunities For Me To Eat Crow On Monday

I'm just stupid enough to make predictions for these puppies. That, or that seventh Budweiser is starting to finally get me buzzing... Whatever the case, let's do it.

New England at San Diego Somehow, everyone's forgotten that 1) the Patriots still don't have any scary clutch receivers and 2) the Broncos beat the Patriots in Denver on the same weekend last January. And this Chargers team is a better one than that Denver team.

You know the only thing that's going to suck about this game? Listening to the commentators yap endlessly about what Belichick plans to do to confuse Philip Rivers. What I want to know is what the Patriots intend to do to stop Ladanian Tomlinson.

Coaching is important. Coaching is not everything. Chargers 30 Patriots 24

Indianapolis at Baltimore Boy, this sets up nicely for a Peyton Manning January CollapseTM, doesn't it? He got the bus warmed up last week with three picks against the gutless Chiefs - what's gonna happen this weekend against a team with a real defense?

I smell problems. The key, though, is McNair. If he's having a decent game, Baltimore wins this one without too much problem. If not... we're in for a tight one. McNair's got at least one good game left. Ravens 21 Colts 13

Philadelphia at New Orleans This looks like a disaster for the Eagles to me. Philly's got to be running on near-empty by now, and the Saints are locked and loaded to explode in this opening round. Garcia's been a heckuva story, but he's not well-equipped to keep pace with the Saints.

I see this one being a race to 30, and Philly ain't getting there. Saints 34 Eagles 24

Seattle at Chicago The 8.5 point spread seems really high until you consider how moribund the Seahawks offense is these days. Add in that Seattle's secondary isn't healthy or talented enough to take advantage of Chicago's biggest weakness, and I see the Bears getting by here and advancing to the title game. Bears 20 Seahawks 10

Happy footballing, ladies and gents! Enjoy what promises to be one of the best weekends of football of the year.

And when nothing I predicted actually happens this weekend... try not to hold it against me.

--PB--