Over the past three years, Chicago Bears linebacker Tim Shaw and New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss have become good friends. But this week they agreed to go head-to-head making their playoff picks for Scout.com.
Back in 2007, Shaw and Boss chose XAM Sports to represent them. Soon after, they learned that they would be roommates while training in Florida for the workouts leading up to the NFL Draft.
Shaw--a versatile and athletic defender out of Penn State--was a bit surprised when he sized up Boss--a talented, but largely unheralded tight end out of Western Oregon.
"I meet this guy and he's 6-foot-7--but super skinny and small," Shaw recalled with laugh. "He had just had shoulder surgery during his senior year. So I'm looking at this guy and thinking 'this guy is an NFL tight-end? You've got to be kidding me.' Obviously, he's a great player and he worked his way back into shape and into the body he needed for the NFL. But it was funny, because my first impression was not good."
Bears LB Tim Shaw tackles Lions RB Aaron Brown, one of Shaw's 23 special teams tackles this season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Boss, who's won a Super Bowl ring as the starting tight end for the Giants, noticed the difference between the two players as well.
"My initial reaction was, 'who is this specimen?' He's a pretty well put-together guy, built pretty well," Boss said. "My first reaction--coming from a smaller school--was that it was kind of exciting for me to room with a kid that came from Penn State."
But as Shaw got to know Boss, he found that they had plenty of things in common--and that Boss possessed a number of personal attributes that he respected and admired.
"He's a hard worker and a blue-collar type of guy, and we enjoy the same things," he said. "We both got addicted to Lost, the TV show, when we were together."
"I still like to tease Tim about doing puzzles," Boss said. "I don't know if he ever told you that he spends his off time putting puzzles together, so I always give him a hard time about being a puzzle nerd."
"We enjoyed our time together and still talk regularly to this day. He turned out to be a good friend and attended my wedding last summer. We're lifetime friends."
Shaw--who not only led the Bears in special teams tackles, but finished tied for second in the NFL in that category with 23--and Boss made their playoff picks independently during my phone calls with them this week. Here's how they see the weekend shaping up.
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
Boss: I'm going to pick Arizona. Earlier in the season, I didn't think it was possible for New Orleans to get beat at home, but Dallas went in there and proved that it could be done. Arizona is pretty hot right now. Going into the postseason, they were my pick from the NFC to go to the Super Bowl. I'm a big Kurt Warner fan, so I'm pulling for the Cards.
Shaw: It's tough to go against Drew Brees, but I think the Cardinals are playing a little more inspired. Defensively, I don't think New Orleans has what it takes to stop the Cards. I like the Cardinals and I'm a big Kurt Warner fan. I love what he stands for and the way he goes out there and slings the ball around.
Kevin Boss has become one of Eli Manning's favorite targets.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
Boss: I'm definitely taking Indy in that one. Basically it boils down to two words--Peyton Manning. I think he definitely deserved that MVP award. And anytime you have Peyton Manning on your team, you've got the upper hand.
Shaw: This might be the toughest one for me to call, but I can't go against Peyton--I just can't. I've seen him pick apart teams that I've been on so badly, so I have to assume he's going to do the same thing to the Ravens. Even though the Ravens are playing pretty inspired, Peyton Manning is hungry, he wants that Super Bowl ring.
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Boss: This is definitely the toughest one. I want to pick Dallas because they're playing great football right now and are probably the hottest team, but I'm going with Minnesota. I think it's going to be hard to beat them at home in that dome. With the noise factor, it's a tough place to play.
Shaw: I like Dallas in this matchup. I thought about sticking with my division guys, but I just can't do it. I think Dallas is going to pull it out. The Vikings have been reeling a bit. We got after them a little bit in December, so I like the Cowboys. The key is not letting the Vikings explode on big plays.
New York Jets at San Diego Chargers
Boss: I'm going to go with the Chargers. I think they've got too much firepower offensively. Even though the Jets have the number one defense, I don't think they can handle the Chargers' passing attack. I'm a big fan of Antonio Gates, their big receiver so I'll definitely stick with the Chargers on that one.
Shaw: When you see teams that haven't lost in so long it's tough to go against them, so I'm going go with San Diego. The Jets have kind of been hot and cold, so I like San Diego in that one.
Click here for more coverage of your favorite NFL team.