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CBS Sportsline: NFC Playoff Breakdown


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:notworthy Washington Redskins :notworthy

The skinny: The Redskins are hot. They won their final five, including three road games, to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Clinton Portis finished the year with a club-record 1,516 yards and five consecutive 100-yard games; Santana Moss had a club-record 1,483 yards receiving and 12 TDs; Mark Brunell played so well at quarterback that rookie Jason Campbell never threw a pass. OK, so Brunell is hurt now, but he limped through last week's must-win game at Philadelphia and produced a 54-yard completion to Moss to set up a third-quarter TD.

The Redskins have the momentum you look for at this time of year, and Brunell should be better with a week of additional treatment on his sprained right knee. The problem is that Tampa Bay's rolling, too, -- winning five of their past seven, with losses to New England and Chicago the only blemishes -- and knocked off Washington when the two met Nov. 13.

Player on the spot: Cornerback Walt Harris. The Redskins are vulnerable to the pass, and Harris, a former starter who's battling nagging injuries, can be victimized. I know, the Bucs aren't exactly the Indianapolis Colts when it comes to passing, but they put up 36 points on these guys, with Chris Simms throwing for 279 yards and a season-best three TDs.

Area of concern: The secondary. No, the cornerbacks. Carlos Rogers has missed the past three games with a torn biceps but says he's ready to return. That's a plus. But this isn't: Shawn Springs re-injured his groin in the season-ending win over Philadelphia and is questionable. If he doesn't make it, that means ... yep, Walt Harris, grab your helmet.

Intriguing stat: The Redskins are 5-0 in their all-white uniforms.

Will go to the Super Bowl if ... They keep doing what they're doing, which is producing takeaways on defense and grinding opponents with equal parts Portis and Moss.

:silly: Tampa Bay Buccaneers :silly:

The skinny: You won't find Jon Gruden's name among the coach of the year finalists, and that's a shame. He raised the Titanic this year, taking a last-place team to the top of one of the most competitive divisions out there. And he did it without his starting quarterback. In Brian Griese's absence, Chris Simms played superbly, reducing his errors and producing marvelous road wins in Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans.

But the Bucs always have been about defense, and this year is no exception -- with Tampa Bay leading the league in yards allowed and holding opponents to an average of 3.5 yards per rush. Still, you can't help but notice the performances of Simms, wide receiver Joey Galloway and rookie running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams.

Tampa Bay is a mirror image of the Redskins. Marvelous back. Solid outside receiver. Productive quarterback. The difference is the defense. The Bucs were slightly more effective there than Washington, allowing fewer points and ranking higher in the team standings.

Player on the spot: Simms. He hasn't been to the playoffs, and Washington thrives on forcing opponents into mistakes. Look what happened last week in Philadelphia. The Eagles had six turnovers, including four in the second half. Memo to Chris: Sit down with Dad and listen hard.

Area of concern: The offensive line. The Carolina Panthers caved in the right side of the line in their first meeting, with Julius Peppers using tackle Kenyatta Walker as a speed bump. The New England Patriots caved in all sides, with seven sacks of Simms. Washington will bring the heat; Tampa Bay had better be ready.

Intriguing stat: Tampa Bay is 9-0 in games where it allows no more than two sacks.

Will go to the Super Bowl if ... The defense continues to lock down opponents and can throw in a score here or there -- much like Chicago. This is the time of year when clubs that run and defend well do well, and the Bucs score highly in both areas.


My Skinny: Keep doin' what we are doin' and we will get to the super bowl. Keep running Portis hard, hitting Cooley short for long gains, and getting that deep ball to Santana. Hopefully Brunell is back to full speed tomorrow. Our defense is top notch and Rodgers will be back so we will be O.K., plus Taylor and Griffin didn't play last time and they are back! Keep in mind we have beaten every team in the NFC playoffs eccept Tampa Bay and Carolina. :D Nice thought , huh? Hail to the Redskins and enjoy!

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Not totaly unbiased.

He just called TB a mirror image of the Redskins on offense.

Cadilac equal to portis, galloway equal to moss, Simms equal to Brunell? Give me a break, 2 really young guys, and ALL 3 are beaten solidly in production this year by the skins guys. Plus we have cooley.

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My goodness I totally agree with the last two posters. Peregrine, you are right that you cannot compare stats to PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE, and Cooley is up for a breakout game. If he doesn't, that means SOMEONE IS F*CKING WIDE OPEN! SkinsFTW, you are exacty right and the way our Defensive Line is playing, Cadillac ain't doing nothing this week. And just think.....playoffs!!! JG and GW are going to want to put it on Chris Simm's shoulders. I don't think he can handle it.

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