Jacksonville at Pittsburgh duking it out in the ketchup swamp this Saturday is the only playoff game of the weekend that is both: a) up for grabs, and b) not featuring little Elijah. Hence, it is obviously the most compelling game of the quadratic wildcard round, the deep-fried calamari of appetizers, if you will.
The Jags, both with their victory at Heinz a few weeks back, and the constant shaft stroking of their toughness by the sports media, have been sexed up to 2.5 point favorites on the road (of course a plethora of Pitt injuries equate in here as well).
Our gut reaction was that
But maybe we're so quick to pick the Jags because we believe they have a better shot at defeating New England. We've already seen the Steelers try their slingshots against Goliath; they got goatreemed, nearly tripled-up, in week 14. Or maybe we like the Jags because they don't have an ass-chinned, flaming yellow-flanneled mascot that was hired out of a Village People cover band.
As good of a season as Garrard has had, and don't get us wrong, it was damn good and underrated, he's never done anything in the playoffs. Aww actually, shit, Big Ben hadn't when the Steelers won the Super Bowl two years ago (but if Garrard plays as poorly as Roethlisberger did at Ford Field he won't be getting bailed out by the refs, he will be back to his offseason gig).
Neither team lacks big-play capability, although Pittsburgh has the vastly superior receiving corps. Neither team lacks a ground game, although Jacksonville has both a bowling ball and a whiffle ball in their backfield. The sans-Willie Steelers will miss that motherfucker's shiftiness.
Hell, at this point we feel like a fruity feline chasing its tail, only without the catnip high. We can't drum up a strong enough argument for either side. And believe us, we're not putting our money where our mouth is (it's the sole game on which we aren't wagering).
The hitting will be the hardest. The turf will be the sloppiest. The occurence of devastating knee injuries the most bountiful of all of this year's playoff games. Whichever team has the purest "mudder" geneology will win it. That's all we know. That's what makes this game so exciting.
Pigskin crotch meter for Saturday evening: a rigid, 45-degree SCHA-WIIIING!*
*We're pretty sure even registered NFL hater Locomotive's junk will be rigor mortis for this one's duration.