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Gonzo's Fearless Post-Season Forecast, Wild Card Round

Actual Vikings' related content coming tonight, I promise.  But I want to get this up there before the early games start.  Oh, and point spreads are provided for entertainment purposes only.  Just putting them out there.

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)

The Redskins have been playing on emotion ever since the tragic death of Sean Taylor.  The question that's being presented is can they fly cross-country, head into a raucous Seahawks Stadium (probably the loudest outdoor stadium in the league), and sustain that enough to knock off a slightly underrated Seattle team?

The Seattle defense has actually been quite good this season, finishing in the Top 10 in both points and yards allowed.  I think that the Seahawks will load up early to slow down Clinton Portis and the Redskins' rushing game, forcing Todd Collins to try to beat them.  That plays to Seattle's defensive strength, with pass rushers like Patrick Kearney and Julian Peterson and a very good secondary.

All in all, I think the Redskins have been a nice story thus far. . .but I really think the story ends in a few hours.

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction:  Seahawks 24, Redskins 17

Jacksonville Jaguars (-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers

Yes, the Steelers are hosting yet another playoff game at the Big Ketchup Bottle, but this time they're in a strange situation. . .that of the underdog.  It's not entirely unjustified, though. . .the Jags did knock off the Steelers 29-22 a few weeks ago in a snowstorm, thanks largely to their great running game.  In my humble opinion, Jacksonville is the best running team in the NFL that's not based in Minnesota.

One thing that a lot of the experts have pointed out is that the Steelers' tackling this season has been, for lack of a better term, un-Steeler-like.  From the few games I've seen them in, I tend to agree.  When you think of the Steelers, you think of hard-nosed, smash-mouth football, and sure fundamental tackling. . .the latter part of that has been missing from the Steelers this year.  And Jacksonville is the wrong team to have that problem against.  The Jags are on the short list of the most physical teams in the NFL.

I think Ben Roethlisberger and company will keep this game close, but in the end I think there's going to be too much Fred Taylor, too much Maurice Jones-Drew, and not enough time for the Steelers.

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction:  Jaguars 24, Steelers 20

New York Football Giants at Tampa Bay Football Buccaneers (-3)

Yes, we know that sometimes, Eli Manning is unstoppable, just like his Citizen Eco-Drive (4 TDs vs. Dallas, 4 TDs vs. New England).  Unfortunately for the Giants, there are plenty of times that Eli Manning looks like a "Rolexxx" that you bought from some guy on a street corner on the Lower East Side (4 INT vs. the Beloved Purple).  His play is going to be THE key for the Giants heading into this one.

On the flip side. . .is any team in the playoffs entering the post-season with less fanfare than the Buccaneers?  Did you know that the Bucs defense is, yardage-wise, the NFL's best defense against the pass and second-best overall?  Or that they allowed fewer points than any team in the NFC (and were 3rd in the NFL, behind only Pittsburgh and Indianapolis)?  I sure didn't until I went to NFL.com and looked them up.  Sure, their offense might not be spectacular, and they've started about 17 different running backs this year. . .but with a defense this good, they don't have to be spectacular.

Honestly, I just can't bring myself to pick Eli Manning in a big game at this point.  Maybe he'll prove me wrong on Sunday afternoon.  Until then. . .

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction:  Buccaneers 27, Giants 17

Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers (-9)

Yes, these two teams played a close game a couple of weeks ago in Tennessee.  Since then, Vince Young has gotten banged up, the Titans' #1 receiver, Roydell Williams, has broken his ankle, and their #1 tight end has been placed on injured reserve with a lacerated kidney.  (Damn, my back started to hurt just typing that.)  Young appears to be ready to go at QB. . .and, depending on who you listen to, that may or may not be a good thing.

Looking at the Chargers' side, there's no coach under more pressure to win this weekend than Norv Turner.  Why?  Because the guy that was on the San Diego sidelines last year went 14-2, lost his first playoff game, and got sent packing (in what I still think was a dumb move).  If the Chargers somehow get knocked off on Sunday afternoon, the villagers are going to be out with pitchforks and torches. . .and if there's anyone in the NFL that's capable of screwing this up, quite frankly, it's Norv Turner.

That being said, I don't think even HE can hose this one up for the Bolts.  San Diego can look forward to a trip to Indianapolis next weekend.

Gonzo's Final Score Prediction:  Chargers 31, Titans 14

There you have it, folks. . .not terribly scientific or anything, but there you have my picks.  Continue enjoying your Saturday, everyone, and I'll be back later on this evening.