NFL playoff predictions: Redskins, Jaguars, Bucs and Chargers win

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And now the fun begins for NFL fans.

The first round of the NFL playoffs starts tomorrow and Sunday, with four games scheduled: Washington at Seattle, Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, New York Giants at Tampa Bay and Tennessee at San Diego.

Here are my predictions:

Washington Redskins (9-7) at Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

Nobody wants to face the red-hot Redskins, who enter the playoffs having won their last four games, including a 27-6 victory over the NFC’s top-seeded team, the Dallas Cowboys, last week that a secured a spot in the playoffs. It’s amazing that Washington has excelled without two of its top players: safety Sean Taylor, who was shot to death in November, and quarterback Jason Campbell, who is out with a season-ending leg injury.

The three primary reasons Washington has reached the postseason has been the play of quarterback Todd Collins, a career backup who has far exceeded expectations as Campbell’s replacement, running back Clinton Portis, the centerpiece of the Redskins’ offense, and a stout defense that led the league in rushing defense over the last four games of the season.

The Seahawks, the NFC West champions, are reeling, having lost two of their last three games to a couple of the worst teams in the league, Carolina and Atlanta. Working in Seattle’s favor is a defense that features two players who can get to the quarterback, defensive end Patrick Kerney and linebacker Julian Peterson, who combined for 24 sacks this year, and one of the most underrated players in the league, linebacker Lofa Tatupu.

Seattle has won three consecutive playoff games at home, but Washington is peaking at just the right time, which should give it the edge in what should be a close game that could be decided by a late field goal.

Winner: Washington.

Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)

The Jaguars and Steelers have played each other three times since 2005, and Jacksonville won all three times, including a 29-22 victory at Pittsburgh last month in which it ran all over the Steelers. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are arguably the best two-headed running back tandem in the playoffs, and quarterback David Garrard has been stellar in his first year as a starter, going 9-3.

Jacksonville’s tough defense battered Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the team’s previous match-up, sacking him five times, and limited the Steelers to 217 yards of total offense. Pittsburgh will miss the services of star running back Willie Parker, who is out for the rest of the year with a leg injury, and, due to injuries, it will have to rely on third-string left tackle Trai Essex to protect Roethlisberger’s blindside.

Expect the Jaguars to become the first team to ever win two games at Pittsburgh in the same season.

Winner: Jacksonville

New York Giants (10-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)

Both teams’ strength is its defense; New York led the league in sacks with 53, and Tampa Bay finished in the top three in the league in three significant categories, yards allowed (second), passing defense (first) and points allowed (third).

The deciding factor could be the play of Bucs starting quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has had success against the Giants, defeating New York twice in the playoffs over the last six years.

Bucs receivers Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard could cause problems for a Giants secondary that has given up big plays this season. The key will be Tampa Bay’s offensive line protecting Garcia and giving him enough time to find Galloway and Hilliard.

Winner: Tampa Bay

Tennessee (10-6) at San Diego (11-5)

Tennessee’s two best players, quarterback Vince Young and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, are battling injuries. Even with Young, Tennessee’s passing offense has been dismal; the Titans have thrown only nine touchdown passes this season. Tennessee’s offense, with or without Young, will likely have to score early and often to keep up with the high-scoring Chargers.

The Titans have lost only once in their last five games, 23-17 in overtime to San Diego, which is on a six-game winning streak.

San Diego’s defense had a league-leading 30 interceptions and was fifth in scoring defense during the regular season. The Chargers’ defense, combined with the most electrifying running back in the game, LaDainian Tomlinson, and arguably the top tight end, Antonio Gates, should be more than enough to vault San Diego past the Titans.

Winner: San Diego

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Submitted by mikese on Thu, 03/19/2009 - 11:25am.

And of all the players on these teams how many are getting steroids online and juicing? You just see baseball players in the news but no football players, i think they really need to test them a little more.

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