Jan 7, 2011
We have made it to the playoffs, and outside of the Patriots, there does not appear to be a clear-cut favorite, which should make for some great games. Things get started with the Wild Card Round on Saturday and I wanted to share my thoughts on those matchups.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Even with Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory on the shelf, you have to like the Saints this one pretty easily. New Orleans will take and complete the shots downfield that the Rams couldn’t last week. Drew Brees should be able to pick apart the Seattle secondary with ease, especially since he receiving corps hold significant advantages in the size and athleticism department. Now, the Qwest Field advantage could come into play if the Seahawks are able to put some points on the board early, but if they fall behind, forget about it. The Saints shouldn’t have a problem this week, but you have to wonder if they can go much further without a consistent running game unless you believe in Julius Jones. I sure don’t.
Prediction: Saints 30 Seahawks 14
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
The rematch of the last season’s AFC Championship is a bit more even considering the Colts injury issues and the additions of LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie for the Jets. New York did a fine job against Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark last season, but they were destroyed by Pierre Garcon and Jacob Tamme. Having Cromartie on Garcon and Darrelle Revis on Wayne means the Colts will be targeting the middle of the field with Blair White and Jacob Tamme. The may not have an answer for those guys, but the question is will it be enough if Wayne and Garcon are held in check? The Jets should make their RBs the focal point of their offense both on the ground and through the air. Shonn Greene the type of bigger back who can the smaller Colt defense some trouble. LaDainian Tomlinson may have hit a wall in the second half, but he can still be a major contributor as a receiver, especially since Indy has struggled against pass-catching backs. While I think this will be a competitive game, it’s tough to pick Mark Sanchez over Peyton Manning.
Prediction: Colts 26 Jets 20
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
If the Ravens are on their game, they could be one of the best teams in the league. That hasn’t happened very often, especially when it comes to their offense. The passing game has been scaled back in recent weeks with Ray Rice and the ground game carrying the offense. With that change in philosophy, it’s made the Ravens look awfully similar to the Chiefs. Both teams should be trying to run the ball while taking calculated shots through the air. Baltimore more have more weapons, but the Chiefs have the best receiver in Dwayne Bowe, who can certainly take advantage of a very exploitable Raven secondary. Kansas City needs a big game out of their defense to keep things close enough to get Jamaal Charles plenty of touches. This game really could go either way, but I’m leaning towards the Ravens because they are better suited to go further in the playoffs.
Prediction: Ravens 23 Chiefs 16
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
Because I believe these are the best two teams in the conference, the winner of this game should represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Green Bay’s been able to overcome major injury issues all season and are one of the most dangerous #6 seeds I can remember. They have both the pass rush and talent in the secondary to give Michael Vick and the Eagle offense some real trouble. That’s the difference in this game because I don’t think Philly’s defense will be able to stop Green Bay’s passing attack. They’re short in the secondary and the Packers could take advantage of that by spreading them out with three and four receiver sets. While neither team relies on the run, the Eagles do have a great back in LeSean McCoy, whereas I don’t trust anyone in the Packer backfield. Because I’ve been calling this the unofficial “NFC Championship” game, I felt it was best to watch the game in person, so I’ll be at the Linc on Sunday afternoon. It’s a tough pick, but I think Green Bay’s defense gets to Vick and knocks him out of his comfort zone.
Prediction: Packers 34 Eagles 23
There’s a pretty good chance I’ll be altering these picks next week, but I wanted to get my full playoff predictions out there before everything got underway.
Wild Card Round:
Saints over Seahawks
Packers over Eagles
Ravens over Chiefs
Colts over Jets
Packers over Falcons
Saints over Bears
Patriots over Ravens
Steelers over Colts
Packers over Saints
Patriots over Steelers
Packers over Patriots (Full disclosure: My preseason pick was Packers over Ravens)
Good luck to everyone in playoff leagues and enjoy the games this weekend!