Life in the NFL
Getting close to making the playoffs made it harder for the Tennessee Titans to watch at home
IT IS always hard to sit at home and watch the playoffs go on without you and your team playing for the chance to go to the Super Bowl.
No matter the previous year's record, every team in the NFL has the goal of making the playoffs and ultimately competing for the Super Bowl. With the parity the league experiences, it is possible for any team to make the magical run at the World Championship. But knowing that with just one win, your team could be playing for that title, it is especially hard to stomach.
The hardest game to watch was the game we would have played in if we had beaten the Patriots. We would have been playing the Colts with that win, but instead Kansas City got the spot. Kansas City, led by Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson, had a tough time getting started against an inspired Colts defense that had been receiving much criticism the last several weeks. The Colts did put up 23 points, but it was the excellent play of the defense that won this game for the Colts. Indianapolis has one of the most underrated defenses in the NFL, mostly because they are overshadowed by their flashy offense, but not this past Sunday after shutting down the seemingly unstoppable Johnson.
As for the team that kept us out of the playoffs, the Patriots, they were matched up against the Jets. I've got to say that despite losing to both teams, I was rooting for the Jets, especially after the Pats ended our playoff run. At the start, this game seemed more like a duel between two of the NFL great coaching minds in Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini. At the end, the Patriots looked to just be more talented than the Jets and the Jets had a couple calls go the other way, allowing the Patriots to pull off a 37-16 win.
Over in the NFC, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles had a classic NFC battle. This was another hard game to watch, considering we beat both of these teams during the season. Nevertheless, both teams are very deserving to be playing in the playoffs. Jeff Garcia has propelled the Eagles into the playoffs, filling in for Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb, who hasn't played since injuring his knee against us. Both teams played very solid games on both sides of the ball, but in the end, the Eagles were able to piece together a game-winning drive ending in a David Akers field goal.
The biggest surprise for me in the Wild Card round was Seattle's win over the Dallas Cowboys. I thought that Dallas would make it deep into the playoffs, but it was Seattle's passing attack, three forced turnovers, and a botched field-goal snap that ended Dallas' run.
There are going to be some heavyweight battles this week, with the Patriots playing the Chargers, the Colts playing the Ravens, the Seahawks playing Chicago and the Saints playing the Eagles. Last week's games were intense, but with more on the line, fans are going to be in for a treat.
I am taking the Saints over the Eagles. The Saints, in my mind, are simply playing on another level. Between Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Reggie Bush and the Saints defense, the Eagles may have finally met their match. Plus, I think that much of the nation is pulling for the Saints following Hurricane Katrina.
In the Chicago/Seattle game, I am going with the Bears. The Bears have been getting it done in the trenches on both sides of the ball with great offensive and defensive lines. Not to mention, they have one of the most electrifying special-teams units, featuring Pro Bowl kick returner Devin Hester.
Over in the AFC, I think fans will witness two of the toughest match-ups of the playoffs. The Colts will have an incredibly tough test against the Baltimore Ravens. Being a huge Steve McNair fan, I am picking the Ravens to win. I want to see Steve win the Super Bowl. Plus, it is always good to see our AFC South rival lose.
Finally, in probably the most anticipated matchup, San Diego is hosting New England. New England is one of the best teams in the NFL and has been playing very well the last several weeks, but I am going with the Chargers simply because of the LaDainian Tomlinson factor. LT is the best player in the NFL and very much deserved the NFL MVP award. Not to mention, the Chargers have a defense led by two of the NFL's most feared pass rushers in Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman. Phillips doesn't get the credit that Merriman does, but he has had a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
More information on my 1st Annual Island Weekend is coming. I will be posting it on my new revamped Web site soon, but as always, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or if anyone is interested in participating. This is going to be an awesome event and I am excited to have you all join me in June.|
Former UH lineman Travis LaBoy is chronicling his season with the Tennessee Titans for the Star-Bulletin