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SPF's Divisional Playoffs Pre-Pregame Show (or T.I. Poll Week 19)

Posted: Jan 12, 2008

There are three SPF teams left in the Super Bowl hunt, but the news doesn't stop with them.  Of the 4 current coaching vacancies, SPF has three of them (Miami, Atlanta, and Washington).

Signs point to a year of great transition.  The SPF footprint has some of the best owners and some of the worst.  Some of those struggling owners are learning a lesson right now that may pay off next season.

We will explain throughout this week's "Team Identity" Poll.

Still In The Super Bowl Hunt

1.  Dallas Cowboys

Sunday afternoon

COWBOYS vs. NY Giants
NFL Films Video Preview

The Cowboys have reached "soap opera" overload.  Why did Tony Romo go to Mexico with Jessica Simpson?  Will it affect his play?  Will T.O. be able to come back from injury?  Is Wade Phillips the right guy to keep coaching this team?  Should Jerry fire Wade now to keep Jason Garrett?

This is what Jerry Jones wants.  The Cowboys are relevant, interesting, and glamorous.  Win or lose on Sunday, Jerry has his team (almost) exactly where he wants them.  A Super Bowl win with this bunch is all he lacks.

2.  Indianapolis Colts

Sunday early game

COLTS vs. San Diego Chargers
NFL Films Video Preview

Despite the Pats undefeated season, SPF still believes that the Colts are the team to beat.  Their mix of Peyton Manning's offense with Tony Dungy's defense will make them a very tough out in the playoffs.

No one expects that the Chargers will put up much of a fight.  Although the team did hand the Colts one of their 3 losses this season, it was an aberration in which Manning through 6 interceptions (and it was still a close game).  The Colts and Manning will likely shred them.

There is change on the horizon for the Colts even if they do defend their Super Bowl title this year.  First, there is this seemingly well-founded rumor that Tony Dungy may retire at season's end.  That can be handled by turning things over to worthy assistant Jim Caldwell.

Second and more important, is the rise of the rest of the AFC South.  This division is the best in football (no team had a losing record and 3 of the four team made the playoffs).  Additonally, all the teams are young and improving - just like our next entry.

3.  Jacksonville Jaguars

Saturday late game

JAGUARS @ New England Patriots
NFL Films Video Preview

SPF said it at the beginning of the season - no team had more on the line this season than the Jaguars.  This team was teetering in their home market.  Mediocrity was not capturing the hearts of Jacksonville's football faithful.  Cutting your supposed top QB right before the season started and replacing him with your backup who fell apart last year wasn't making anyone jump for joy.

However, the season developed in a way that showed that Jack Del Rio was right, very right.  SPF criticized him because the move to waive Byron Leftwich had to be seen as a power play against GM James Harris.  Del Rio had a built in excuse if the Jags struggled - "my GM saddled me with a bum QB."

Instead, the Jags and QB David Garrard got better each week.  The biggest improvement came in the second half of the season when Garrard started to throw to his WRs.  Garrard consistently began to complete passes to 7 or 8 different players.  This further opened up the running game which features the 1-2 punch of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.

The Jags have done everything they had to do this season and more.  They can and should play free and easy against the undefeated Pats.  Although it would be better if their defense weren't so banged up, SPF expects the Jags will still give the Pats a good game.  Del Rio is usually pretty good a game planning as an underdog.

The future is very, very bright in Jacksonville.  The team is young and loaded with talent.  The Colts won't have it as easy next year.

Part 2:  "Teams On The Verge"

related tags

Southern Pro Football,
New Orleans,
North Carolina,

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