Earlier this month, the NFL announced that six teams were being considered as the team that gives up a home game during the 2007 season with the site to be either Great Britain or Germany. The teams being considered were the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Seattle Seahawks. This angered me as a NFL fan, a Buffalo Bills fan, and most importantly as a Buffalo region resident. Each NFL team only gets 8 home games, and many locales, stadium ushers, parking lot attendants, concession vendors, security guards, and local businesses rely on the employment and business generated from their corresponding team’s home games.

The Dolphin’s have been choosen to be the team to lose their home game this year. Their opponent will be either the NY Giants or the Buffalo Bills. I would assume the NFL would choose the Giants as their opponent since it would be a non-conference game and not have as much importance for the final AFC East standings (not like either the Bills or the Dolphins will be much of a factor come next December/January). But then again it seems the NFL has no rhyme or reason behind most of the things it does.

Over the next 16 seasons, each of the league’s 32 teams will participate in a regular season game outside the United States. At least that is what the plan is. What are they going to do when a riot breaks out because the stadium is packed full and they realize that this game is American Football and not soccer which they were expecting (I’m joking here, no angry emails please)! We shall see what happens and see if the NFL can successfully market itself overseas.

Congratulations to Brian Urlacher, Rex Grossman, Lovie Smith, and the rest of the Chicago Bears as the proved me wrong, defeating the New Orleans Saints to advance to Super Bowl XLI in Miami. This game was won by the better coach, despite having Rex Grossman, who I consider the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, behind center. Lovie Smith just coached a far more superior game than Saint’s coach Sean Payton.

For a team which has perhaps the best running back tandem in the NFL, in Deuce McAllister & Reggie Bush, how do you only run the ball a total of 12 times? How do you let your quarterback throw the ball 49 times??? Lovie Smith understands how you win football games, by running the football & stopping the run. The Bears defense certainly takes care of the latter and Thomas Jones & Cedric Benson combined for 43 carries, 183 yards rushing, and 3 rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, McAllister and Bush combined for only 10 carries, totaling 37 yards. Granted Bush is a much bigger threat than simply running the ball, he is also a threat lining up as a receiver. Bush totaled 7 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown, but the Saints needed to control the clock and keep Chicago’s superior defense on the field, hence tiring them out. New Orleans did neither and despite a below average quarterback effort from Grossman, the Bears are headed to Super Bowl XLI. The best of luck to them!

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.