I bounced back from a .500 handicapping weekend in the wild card round with a three for four effort this week. The one game I missed I missed big. I thought the Chargers were the one road team that had no chance this weekend. Wrong. Dead wrong. What makes that win really impressive is the fact that both Phillip Rivers and Ladanian Tomlinson were on the sideline with injuries in the fourth quarter. It may have been the final game for Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy who is considering retirement. The league will miss his infleunce. He's as classy as any coach who's ever walked an NFL sideline.
More kudos to the Giants and Tom Coughlin. Although I doubted them earlier this season, their performances against the Pats and the Bucs had me believing they could beat the Cowboys. Plus, that dreaded time off kills teams. The Cowboys rested their starters in the regular season finale and had last weekend off. Not playing meaningful football for three weeks hurts teams. That is a far more legit reason for the Cowboys' demise than the Tony Romo-Jessica Simpson getaway is. But, I guarantee you that trip to Mexico will become a major issue in Dallas this week. I'll sit that one out.
All the playoff teams I watched this week used the screen pass effectively. I hope Scott Linehan was watching. The Rams were an awful screen team in 2007. That has to change. Steven Jackson is the perfect guy to build a screen and shovel pass plan around(and was used effectively in that capacity in 2006). He has excellent hands and is dangerous after the catch. And, he needs to be on the field for third downs next season. Why consistently take out your best player on the most important down? The Chargers took the lead in the fourth quarter today on a perfectly executed screen pass to Darren Sproles. The Rams should be working on the screen and shovel passes regularly in the off season. Marc Bulger and his o-line need to sell the screen better. Watch how Tom Brady and Brett Favre do it next weekend.
One other note---I watched former Ram Madison Hedgecock throw more great lead blocks today for the Giants. Why in the world did the Rams cut him? Wasn't he Jackson's lead blocker in his breakout year in 2006? With the exception of Randy McMichael(very good player), this coaching staff has seriously misjudged the tight end and fullback positions(see Paul Smith, Joe Klopfenstein and Dominique Byrd). Cutting Madison Hedgecock made no sense at the time and still doesn't. I don't care how willing and tough Brian Leonard is. He's 35 to 40 pounds lighter than Hedgecock and doesn't create the impact. Let Leonard spell Steven and let's go find another hammer at fullback.