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Welcome to my blog which deals with mixed martial arts betting and preview with a detailed analysis on the world of MMA. This blogs covers anything relating to the UFC, Strikeforce, Dreams or any other MMA organization.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

NFL Playoff Picture

Carolina and Pittsburgh must win three consecutive road games to reach the Super Bowl. That’s going to be difficult considering both teams must accomplish that feat against an opponent that hasn't lost at home.

That's the scenario Sunday when Denver hosts the Panthers and Seattle welcomes Carolina in the NFL's conference championship round.

As the NFC's No. 1 seed, the Seahawks expected to be in the NFC title game. However, their opponent is more of a surprise after fifth-seeded Carolina upset second-seeded Chicago in the divisional playoff round.

But a trip to Seattle figures to be far from intimidating for a Carolina team that stunned the Eagles two years ago in Philadelphia to advance to the Super Bowl.

Shaun Alexander is the player on the spot for the Seahawks. The league's MVP must come up with big in a playoff game at some point. He left the Washington game with a concussion after accumulating six yards on nine carries. Alexander has run for 1,880 yards and scored 27 touchdowns this season.

Carolina must put the ball in the hands of Nick Gongs after DeShaun Foster broke his ankle last week versus Chicago.

Goings is a career backup who carried the ball just 37 times in the regular season. Panthers coach John Fox knows what to expect from Goings. He stepped into the starting lineup last season and rushed for a team-high 821 yards while scoring six touchdowns.
Seattle is more worried about slowing down Steve Smith, a feat no other team has been able to accomplish. Smith has 22 catches for 302 yards, four rushes for 38 yards and four of Carolina’s five postseason touchdowns.

Seattle is a more complete team, especially with Foster on the sideline. However, Carolina has the edge when it comes to playoff experience. The Panthers are also built for the road, where they have won eight of 10 this year.

Carolina has cashed in 11 of its last 12 as underdogs and nine of 10 as road short-enders. The Panthers have got the green in seven straight as road dogs of seven points or less. Conversely, the Seahawks are 8-25 as home favorites of 3 1/2 to seven points.

Seattle was a perfect 8-0 on its home field this year (6-2 against the spread). The Seahawks’ last home loss occurred against St. Louis in the 2004 playoffs, 27-20.

Most offshore books opened the Seahawks as six-point favorites, with the total set at 44.
Everybody was expecting to see Peyton Manning against Tom Brady in the AFC Championship shootout. Denver's Jake Plummer and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger threw a monkey wrench into those plans when they outplayed their more-heralded counterparts last weekend.
The Steelers overcame a bungled call and a fumbled ball to head to their sixth and least-anticipated trip to the AFC title game in a dozen years under coach Bill Cowher.

Pittsburgh had won only two road playoff games in 30 years prior to this season, and none under Cowher. The Steelers now have won a pair in two weeks.

Pittsburgh is playing with a swagger that was missing when it was 15-1 and the top-seed in last year's playoffs.

The Steelers will have a tough time coping with a Denver defense that forced the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots into five turnovers. The Broncos allowed only 16.1 points per game and just 85.2 rushing yards per game. They also forced 16 fumbles along with their 20 interceptions.

Cowher is hoping Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker can dent that defense often enough to avoid putting Roethlisberger in too many third-and-long predicaments. Pittsburgh has succeeded at that in its first two playoff victories. Roethlisberger has put up a 124.4 quarterback rating with only one interception.

Denver operates in much the same manner, running the ball for an average of 4.7 yards per carry and 158.7 per game. The Broncos have used that running game to keep Plummer from having to win games on his own.

Though Plummer has taken a lot of heat as an inconsistent player, he was only intercepted eight times this season and has finally won a playoff game.

Denver was only 29th this season against the pass. However, in the all-important category of points allowed, its opponents have scored only 50 in the past five games combined. During that stretch, teams have tried and failed to beat the Broncos with the pass.

Buy your picks at Who2beton or at Don Best

Most offshore books opened Denver as three-point favorites, with the total set at 41 1/2.