Home Is Where The Upset Is

"Can you hear me now? Good. Thanks for making Eli suck today."

"Can you hear me now? Good. Thanks for making Eli suck today."

Eagles 23, Giants 11 – It seems rather odd to me that Eli Manning has been playing in the Meadowlands for his career and yet has trouble throwing in the winds. I thought the addition of Brandon Jacobs for the Giants would turn the tide in their favor this week, but Donovan McNabb’s velocity on his passes cut thtrough when Eli’s fell weak, making the big difference after both defenses generally took the right approach to stopping the running games.  Philly’s defense fared better, stopping New York from ever reaching the end zone. Five trips to the red zone resulted in no touchdowns.  If you’re a Giants fan and the play-calling on 3rd and 4th downs made you want to pull a Buddy Ryan on Kevin Gilbride, I understand. It’s like Andy Reid transferred his crappy play-calling essence across the stadium today.

With no rooting interest left, I’m going to go with Donny Mac: despite all the times Philly has tried to run him out, I want him to win a title — because it will shut them up for the rest of his career.

Steelers 35, Chargers 24 – Final score not completely indicative of the beatdown handed out by the Pittsburgh D upon Philip Rivers. The Bolts offens never really go right after that first quick touchdown drive, and while Ben Roethlisberger completed some great throws and had the opportunity for others, Wilie Parker was the star of the game offesnively, darting in and out of the SD front seven during the entire game.  There was nothing as satisfying as watching Rivers get pounded by Lamar Woodley and Brett Kiesel.

Ravens 13, Titans 10 – Bad delay of game call late obviously, but I have a dirty suspicion that Blatimore would have converted a 3rd and 7 just as well as a 3rd and 2 at that point, because the Titans’ offense shot itself in the foot too many times with turnovers to give the D any encouragement. While Joe Flacco got some deep balls going, we’d advise holding off on the fellating. Those deep throws obscured some rather pedestrian stats and he’s not very good with the short to intermediate passing game. At this point, he’s a younger Dilfer, and Baltimore lost Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington in the War of Attrition. I saw seven guys fall thanks to injury in the second half alone.

Cardinals 33, Panthers 13 – Not quite sure what compelled John Fox to empower Jake Delhomme to throw into double and triple coverage rather than just completing handoffs — the Arizona defense helped, but that can’t be all of it — and it resulted in six turnovers for Delhomme, who telegraphed passes, threw to Steve Smith in triple coverage, and looked like he did for much of the 2007 season prior to going down for the season. That’s probably the last game he’ll play in a Carolina uniform.  Delhomme wasn’t the sole problem: not doulbe covering Larry Fitzgerald the entire game seems like the error of a first-time head coach, no someone like Fox, who ought to be on thin ice next season.

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Ill-Advised NFL Divisional Playoff Picks.

Went 3-1 last week, hope to keep that up. Don’t know what I’ll be live-blogging at Awful Announcing this weekend, but something will go on.

Seattle @ Green Bay – With few exceptions, most of the divisional round games are friendly to the home teams. There’s a reason why teams fight hard doing the season to get a 1 or 2 slot (along with the bye week.)  Essentially, these are two pass-dominant offenses going up against one another, with the home team at least making valiant attempts at having a rushing game.  This comes down to how well each defense performs: I think Green Bay’s corner tandem of Al Harris and Charles Woodson can make life uncomfortable for Matt Hasselbeck, plus, there is the “Seahawks on the road” effect to account for, although this game starts at 1 PM Pacific. Regardless, I think Green Bay wins a shootout.

Jacksonville @ New England – Probably the easiest call of the week to make, never mind the rule that you pick an undefeated until they’re beaten.  The Jaguars had some serious holes playing against Pittsburgh last weekend, particularly when it came to getting their own offensive game going. They have the running game necessary to keep Tom Brand and Randy Moss off the field, but that’s about all — as they’re missing some crucial defensive personnel, and are not equipped to play the Patriots for all four quarters.  Patriots in a walk.

San Diego @ Indianapolis – The Chargers caught Peyton Manning with none of his regular personnel and picked him six times. I think having a few weeks with the replacements makes a sizable difference, plus the fact that Philip “Floats” Rivers may not have Antonio Gates playing this week — and Norv Turner will fail to pitch it to LaDainian Tomlinson as often as logic would dictate. Indy by a touchdown, despite the Chargers solid defense.

New York @ Dallas – There is no particular rationality behind this, nor do I particularly buy into the whole “Jessica Simpson is making Tony Romo suck” talk. What I have seen in the last few weeks of the regular season is a problem with the Dallas running game: there is a Pro-Bowl running back in Marion Barber on that team and they either cannot or will not establish the run as of late — and if they have Romo passing 40 times or more a game, Strahan, Umenyiora and the Giants pass rush will have a fun day.  I suspect there is something quite tough about trying to beat a division rival three times in the same season. If Eli Manning can dispense it to Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw early and often, whether by handoff or short passes, the Big Blue’s streaky offense can run it up there with Dallas’ prized unit. Giants in the upset of the week.

Photo: AP/Michael Dwyer