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Saturday, Jan 14
by Larry Ness - 01/14/2006
The NFL's "rematch weekend" gets underway on Saturday at 4:30 ET with Washington at Seattle and follows at 8:00 ET with New England at Denver. Sunday's games are Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, followed by Carolina at Chicago.
The four Divisional Round games are all rematches from the regular season. The same situation occurred last year in this round and the SU winner of the regular season meeting was able to win the playoff rematch, each time. The only team to not 'cover' in its win, was the Steelers, who beat the Jets 20-17 in OT as a nine-point favorite. Will it be deja vu all over again?
My free play for Saturday is in college hoops and I'm taking USC over Washington State in a game that tips at 8:00 ET. BOTH of my NFL plays are available right now, my 20* Divisional GOY and my latest LEGEND Play (14-2 in FB '05!). College BKB fans, I'm following my 20* Pac-10 GOY winner on Washington (Thursday) with my 20* WCC Game of the Year, on Saturday. I've got more CBB and NBA action for Saturday, so be sure to check the site after 9:00 ET.
Washington at Seattle
The storyline of this game is Washington, a No. 6 seed, enters this game with the longest current winning streak of any 2005 playoff team, having won SIX straight games both SU and ATS. The number six is relevant to Seattle as well, as that's the exact number of playoff losses the Seahawks have suffered since the team's last playoff win in 1984. Three of those playoff losses have come under Mike Holmgren, including two at home!
The Seahawks lost at home 20-17 to Miami in 1999, they lost in OT at Green Bay (33-27) in 2003 and last year, lost at home to St Louis by the score of 27-20. That loss was particularly tough to take, as Seattle lost all three games in 2004 to the Rams. Is this the year the Seahawks finally win?
If not here, then when? The Seahawks are one of two NFL teams to have gone 8-0 at home this year (6-2 ATS) and at 13-3, own the NFC's best record. However, Seattle played just five games this season against opponents with a record of .500 or better, going 3-2 SU and 1-4 ATS.
The wins came in non-covers against the Cowboys and Giants plus against an Indy team in Week 16, which played few of its starters and was recovering from the news of Dungy's son's death. Seattle lost at Jacksonville and Washington.
Washington has basically won six consecutive "do-or-die" games and one has to wonder if Joe Gibbs' team will be "out of gas." History is surely not on Washington's side, as since 1990 (12-team format), just NINE of 30 No. 6 seeds have won their wildcard games. Of those nine winners, NONE have won in the divisional round (average loss was by 33.7-13.6 PPG).
Is history about to change? It already has, as BOTH No. 6 seeds (Pittsburgh and Washington) won their first-round games for the first time ever!
New England at Denver
Will Denver be Tom Brady's "Waterloo?" As everyone knows, Brady is a perfect 10-0 in his playoff career and New England's 10 consecutive postseason wins is an NFL record. Denver joined Seattle at 8-0 at home this year and surely be confident as the Broncos beat the Pats back in Week 6 here, 28-20. The game was not as close as the final score, as the Broncos led 21-3 at the half and 28-3 midway through the third quarter.
Brady's playoff numbers are quite impressive, as he owns a completion percentage of 61.9 percent, has thrown for an average of 215.2 YPG and thrown for 14 TDs with just three interceptions. In seven of his 10 playoff games, Brady has not thrown an interception, including his last four!
Denver's QB Jake Plummer has made four previous playoff starts. He won his first back in 1998 when he led the Cardinals to a 20-7 win over the Cowboys in Dallas. However, he's lost his last three, by scores of 41-21, 41-10 and 49-24. His last two playoff games came with the Broncos in losses at Indianapolis to the Colts.
The good news for both Plummer and Denver is, this game is at home. Plummer has thrown just TWO interceptions (227 attempts) in eight home games this year and Denver, which has lost all three of its post-Elway playoff games (all on the road!), finally gets a home game!