- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Some Tuesday quick thoughts, looking back at the wild card games, ahead to the divisional games, reviewing the best 2006 movies and anticipating the return of two great television shows.

NFL playoffs: NFC

After watching the Eagles struggle to beat the lowly Giants on Sunday, I’m officially jumping off the Philadelphia bandwagon. Last week, I tabbed the Eagles to reach the Super Bowl. But they were unimpressive on Sunday, even though they won at the buzzer on a David Akers field goal.

The new picks: New Orleans over Philadelphia because the Eagles don’t have enough quality defensive backs to account for all of the Saints’ formations and weapons. Lito Sheppard is out for Philly and you don’t replace a Pro Bowl player. If Rod Hood was so good, he wouldn’t be a nickel back. Expect Sean Payton and Drew Brees to test him early.

In the other NFC game, I’ll take Chicago over Seattle. I don’t see how the Seahawks will be able to score more than two touchdowns and their return game isn’t as dangerous as the Bears’.

My pick for the NFC title game is now New Orleans over Chicago.

In the AFC, it will be Baltimore over Indianapolis and New England breaking Marty’s heart by defeating San Diego.

Redskins thoughts

Unless something is going on way behind the scenes, the head coaching stock of Gregg Williams and Al Saunders is non-existent. Last year, Williams was expected to be sought after until he signed an extension with the Redskins and Saunders was being pursued by Oakland before joining the Redskins. It shows that, most of the time, owners pay attention to teams’ records.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of interesting Redskins stats:

1. The defense gave up 16 drives of 80 or more yards, including drives of 99, 98, 97 and 92 yards.

2. Before the season, Joe Gibbs was 118-19 all-time when the Redskins had 30 or more rushes; this year, they were 5-4.

3. Ladell Betts had 29 “big” runs (10 or more yards) and Clinton Portis had 15.

4. Chris Cooley led the Redskins with 12 “big” catches (20-plus yards), followed by Santana Moss’ 11.

5. The Redskins started only 11 drives in opponent’s territory. The Giants, by comparison, started two drives in Philadelphia territory on Sunday … in the first half.

6. The defense ranked second-to-last in yards (355.5), 26th on third down (43.7 percent) and last in yards allowed per play (57), sacks (19), takeaways (12), TD passes allowed (30) and 20-plus-yard receptions allowed (55).

7. Portis led the Redskins in touchdowns (seven) despite missing eight games.

8. The Redskins had five multi-game losing streaks and only one multi-game winning streak.

Switching gears to entertainment …

* If you like the great actress Cate Blanchett, go see “Notes On A Scandal.” She plays a late-30s high school art teacher who gets involved with a 15-year old male student. Another solid performance by Miss Cate, who won an Oscar a few years back for the “Aviator.”

* The Academy Award nominations come out in the next few weeks. The best movies I saw in 2006: “The Departed,” “Casino Royale,” “Dreamgirls,” “Match Point”, “United 93,” “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Honorable mention: “Thank You For Smoking,” “Inside Man”, “Mission Impossible 3,” “The Last Kiss,” “The Break-Up,” “Borat.”

* The new year brings two great television highlights, and we’re not talking about “The Apprentice” (which has run its course) and seemingly six episodes per week of “Deal Or No Deal” (a truly boring show).

On Sunday starts the new season of “24” — the best show on TV. And it starts with a bang — two hours on Sunday and two hours on Monday. The Jack Bauer character trails only Tony Soprano and Ari Gold as the best in TV.

And coming up next week is the new “American Idol.” I’ll watch the first few weeks but am not a big fan of the early tryouts. I don’t want to see who stinks as a singer yet that’s what Fox is obsessed with early on.

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