This off-season has been a volatile year for running backs. Four big name backs have switched teams already, but this year’s draft class isn’t the strongest its been in most recent years. Outside of Adrian Peterson, former Oklahoma Sooner and known as the draft’s best running backs in most team’s opinion, there is very few options that will make a team impact.

Former 2,000-yard rusher Jamal Lewis was basically run out of Baltimore as they offered him what amounted to a backup’s contract, a 1-year $2 million deal. Lewis settled in Cleveland for a 1-year, 3.5 million dollar deal that could earn him up to 5 million with incentives. He hasn’t been truly healthy since earning 429 touches in the 2003 season which allowed him to reach 2,000 yards. Lewis claims he can still run a forty-yard dash in the high 4.3’s, which seems highly unlikely to me, though Cleveland will give him the opportunity to revitalize his career.

Former Bills’ running back, Willis McGahee, was disappointing in Buffalo especially with rumors of his lackluster work ethic and study habits running rampant. McGahee reportedly didn’t know the plays and didn’t even know what down it was on a famous key fourth down stop during the 2006 season. The Ravens still see him as a great replacement for Lewis and acquired him through a trade which sent two third-round and a seventh round draft picks in exchange for him. They then rewarded him with a 7-year $40.12 million contract with $15 million being guaranteed.

Buffalo’s starting back hasn’t been decided yet, though last year’s backup, Anthony Thomas, hasn’t been completely ruled out. The Bills, in my opinion, have much more pressing needs than just a starting running back. Hopefully they decide to fill these needs before worrying about a new starting back.

Former Bills’ running back Travis Henry will also find solace in a new home. After returning to form for the Tennessee Titans in 2006 after two disappointing seasons (one in Tennessee, one in Buffalo), Henry was rewarded with a 5-year $22.5 million contract from the Denver Broncos. In past years, Broncos running backs have enjoyed lots of success under head coach Mike Shanahan and former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Henry should flourish as a Bronco.

Former Green Bay Packer, Ahman Green will also see a change of scenery this season. After spending the last 7 years as Green Bay’s primary running back, Green went to free agency and signed a 4-year $23 million deal to become a Houston Texan.

Ok, ok, so I didn’t do so hot in my predictions for the divisional playoff round. Indy beat Baltimore in a very defensive game with zero touchdowns. If you were to tell me that nobody was going to score a touchdown in this game, my money would have been firmly on the Ravens. Instead, Indy showed up to play, holding Jamal Lewis to only 53 yard rushing and picked off 2 passes from quarterback Steve McNair. Honestly, I didn’t see this one coming, I didn’t think Indianapolis’s defense could hold up this well on the road. The Colts’ offense did just enough to win this game, giving Adam Vinatieri 5 field goal opportunities, which he converted on all of them.

In my only correct prediction of the week, New Orleans held off the Philadelphia Eagles to win 27-24. Reggie Bush & Deuce McAllister combined for 195 rushing yards and 3 total touchdowns, one rushing from each of them and a touchdown reception by McAllister. Two John Carney field goals gave the Saints just what they needed to advance to the conference championship game.

A game that was played out exactly as I thought, turned out with different results as the Chicago Bears held off the Seattle Seahawks in overtime. The Bears, quarterbacked by perhaps the worst starting quarterback in the league, Rex Grossman, is a grossly overrated team. They win games because of their defense, but can only go so far with such an inept quarterback. The Seahawks, a team with a depleted secondary, only making it to the divisional playoff game because of a botched Tony Romo field goal hold (sorry Tony, I’m going to keep bringing that up), was hardly in a position to run the table in the NFC, let alone the NFL. Despite these facts, they were in a position to beat the “mighty” Chicago Bears in overtime. This shouldn’t have happened and I simply don’t see the Bears beating the Saints in the conference finals.

Prediction: I said it before the season and I’ll say it again now, The Saints will win the Super Bowl (once again, I won’t get into why just yet, let’s wait for my prediction to come true first). The Bears will do very little to slow them down this week, Saints are going to Miami after a 31-9 win over the Bears.

How do you lose a game where you intercept 3 passes and hold the opposing team’s leading rusher to only 25 yards? This is a question I cannot answer, especially when your running back rushes for 123 yards. I thought football, especially playoff football, was won by running the football and stopping the run. Somebody should tell this to Marty Schottenheimer, whose gross incompetence as a playoff football coach is notorious. Somebody should tell him that when you have the best running back in the league, you shouldn’t allow your first year starting quarterback, Phillip Rivers, to get into a shootout with Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest playoff quarterback since Joe Montana. You don’t let your quarterback throw the ball 32 times (with a completion ratio of only 43%) when you have a running back averaging nearly 6 yards a carry, it’s just stupid football. San Diego has a great team, LaDainian Tomlinson is the best running back in the game, and Phillip Rivers has a bright career in front of him, but Schottenheimer can only get you so far and a Super Bowl just isn’t in the cards for him. I think a coaching change is in San Diego’s best interest.

In the AFC Conference Championship we have a great matchup. The question, “Who is the best quarterback in the NFL?” announces another chapter as the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts play in a rematch of the 2003 AFC Championship game, this time in Indianapolis. Manning vs. Brady has become one of the most debated quarterback rivalries in recent history. Both of the two having a large following touting each as the best quarterback in the game. This game will write another chapter to this rivalry.

Prediction: Peyton Manning wins this chapter of the Manning vs. Brady rivalry by quarterbacking a flawless game. Colts win with a Adam Vinatieri field goal as time expires, 34-33. How’s it feel to be on the other end Tom?

After this weekend’s NFL Wild Card games, only 8 teams remain in the bid for a trip to Miami for Super Bowl XLI. My predictions for the opening playoff week were nearly perfect, flawed by a failed botched hold by Tony Romo on a 19-yard field goal attempt by Martin Gramatica which would have given the Dallas Cowboys a 23-21 lead over the Seattle Seahawks, the defending NFC champions with about a minute remaining.

Though Romo took full responsibility for the loss following the game, he was a big reason that the Cowboys even made it this far, having turned their season around by winning five of his first six starts after replacing Drew Bledsoe and blossoming into a Pro Bowl selection. Romo certainly wasn’t the only player to deserve a piece of the loss. The Dallas defense made an impressive stand in the shadow of their own end zone to hold onto a 20-13 lead with less than 7 minutes remaining in the game. On the subsequent series, the first play from scrimmage resulted in a safety and nearly a Seattle touchdown. A quick screen pass to wide receiver Terry Glenn was fumbled into the end zone after weak Kelly Jennings tackle. This play led to the Seahawks taking a 21-20 lead after a Jerramy Stevens touchdown reception and a failed 2-point conversion. The Seahawks will head to Chicago next week to take on the Bears.

Prediction: Bears roll … over, even Rex Grossman should be able to throw against the depleted Seattle secondary, right? Wrong, the only chance the Bears have is to replace Grossman with Brian Griese, which I think they will do by the second half. Too little, too late, the Bears fall 27-23.

The Indianapolis Colts, despite early struggles by quarterback Peyton Manning, defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, with a strong defensive effort led by defensive end Dwight Freeney who had two sacks on the game, after finishing with only 5.5 on the season. The Colts will play the Baltimore Ravens next week on the road.

Prediction: The highly physical Ravens will beat up on a soft Colts team. 31-17, Ravens.

Unfortunately I have put off the remainder of this post for two long and I have other much more important things to get too, like the BCS National Championship and the vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame. So here are my predictions for the remainder of this coming weekend’s Divisional Playoff Games.

Tom Brady, with an impressive 11-1 post-season record, and the New England Patriots travel to San Diego to play LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers.

Prediction: San Diego shows New England why they are the number one seed in the AFC as Tomlinson rushes for 170 yards. San Diego handles the Pats, 37-24.

Jeff Garcia and the hot Philadelphia Eagles go to the Big Easy to face Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and company.

Prediction: No hurricanes this year, clearly the NFL would love to see the Saints win it all in a bounce back season after Hurricane Katrina took out their home stadium, the Lousiana Superdome. Seems like nothing should get in their way this postseason (more on that another time). Saints pull off a close one, 27-23.