Belfast American Football Writing

I write a column on American Football for a local paper - here you can read the reports a couple of days before they go in print; and my confused waffles...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wild card weekend

THE play-offs begin on Saturday in the NFL – there are no more second chances; lose and you’re out. And it all starts with Wild Card Weekend match-ups.

The wild card play offs are for the two divisional winners who have the worst records of the four in each conference, matched up with the teams, who were not divisional winners but had the next best records.

If that all sounds complicated even casual American Football fans will know that this weekend there are four games set to be classic match-ups.

The weekend's first game sees Kansas City travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts in what will be a massive contrast in styles. The Chiefs running game is led by the league’s number two rusher of the season Larry Johnson. Problem for the Colts is they can’t stop the run.

And the problem for Kansas City is that they are poor defending the pass – and the Colts are led by QB Peyton Manning who seems to collects passing records each and every week.

Next up Dallas travel to Seattle, last year’s beaten Super Bowl finalists. The Cowboys freshly blooded QB, Tony Romo will have to rely on running backs Marion Barber and Julius Jones to set up plays; while Seattle know that Dallas have a problem in defending the running game – and the Seahawks have the talented Shaun Alexander leading the ground assault.

Sunday’s first game sees the New York Jets visit divisional rivals, the New England Patriots. Only a vintage performance by Pats QB Tom Brady, matched by a strategic master class from coach Bill Belichick will see New England through.

Wrapping up Wild Card Weekend is the all NFC East match-up when the New York Giants visit the Philadelphia Eagles. Cast your mind back a year and you may remember the Steelers rode the emotional ‘bus’ to help secure a Super Bowl for Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, their retiring running back in his final season.

The Giants want to achieve a similar result for Tiki Barber, who finishes his career this year. Only the Eagles linebackers, led by Jeremiah Trotter can contain the Tiki attack.



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