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Fantasy Football Feature
Wild Card: Lancaster's Locks
Jimmy Lancaster
January 4, 2008

Lancaster Wildcards

The Lancaster was sifting through the archives and fumbled upon a 2005 column that had me at 55-33-1. Those were the days, I guess, when the man in black and gold was at his best, counterintuitive and fresh with the angles. But it�s the playoffs, and historically, when I do my best work; so if I�m going to make a run this year, we start now. This week we take on some heavy analysis, primarily figuring in past history, injuries, and line analysis.

I like the following five locks for this lovely 2008 Wildcard Weekend:

Under 37.5 in Pittsburgh/Jacksonville: Pitt lost to Jacksonville by 7 the last time they played, and yet in the same stadium, the line remains only +3. Pitt�s OL is banged up, with Smith and Starks giving way to the inexperienced but more youthful and fresher Essex and Kemoeatu. Jacksonville is essentially completely healthy. Assuming Polamalu plays, Pitt has a great chance to slow the Jags by forcing some turnovers. I also like them with the power running of Davenport against the ailing Jags underbelly. With no Peterson and Stroud, they are vulnerable. Overall though, the best play in terms of gambling sense here is the under, as the total is way low considering the score from the last meeting,

Tennessee +9 (buying a point, just in case) and the Over 39: Again, the last time they met San Diego won by 6 on the road, so given the customary �home-team 3,� this opening line of 7 tells me Tennessee has an edge. Sure the line moved up to 11 or so with the injuries to Roydell Williams and uncertainty of Vince Young�s effectiveness, as well as the public�s affection for the Chargers� second half run. But LenDale White and sleeper Chris Henry should be able to run all day on the home team. The Titans D has made plays all year long, and should continue to do so here, especially while they are in need, with Justin Gage being their top WR threat. I will say this though: if San Diego wins, it sets up a great battle in Indy, where the Chargers have had success (they ended the Colts� run to go undefeated two years ago). But I still think the Titans will force Rivers into some mistakes, which he has been prone to all season, and possibly even win this one, although if Jacksonville can hold off Pitt, that one is even more intriguing than a possible Titan/Pats contest.

Seattle -3, buying a half: This one opened at 5 and dropped quickly to 3. Seattle should have Branch, but if not, they are fine with Burleson and Engram ready to step in. The Redskins don�t have a great secondary right now either way. I love the possibility of a Seattle/Green Bay battle on the tundra, so just roll with it. The last time these guys met Seattle won at home in 2005 by 10, on their way to the Super Bowl. My gut is that the playoff appearance is an accomplishment itself for a great head coach in Gibbs who looks to be ready to step down.

New York: +3: Getting 3 on the road, I only dislike two things about the Giants this week, which are keeping me from making this my lock of the year. First, if Sam Madison doesn�t go at CB, C. Webster�s presence makes them quite vulnerable. And second, last week they almost beat the Pats, getting all sorts of attention and maybe even blowing their load. K. Mitchell should be able to go, but if not, Torbor is a fine back-up. Same story with Center O�Hara with veteran Ruegamer. On the other side, OLB Cato June, who is small anyway, has been limited in practice, and either way, with rookie Quincy Black waiting to step in, Brandon Jacobs and even Ruben Droughns should be able to punish these guys. Tampa may miss rookie OL Sears, but should not be hurt as much if so, with veteran Davis on the roster. Eli simply needs to not freak out with turnovers, and if he does, the Giants should roll; Tampa has not been playing like a playoff team for the past month.

Last Week: 1-4-0
Season: 31-38-1

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