Friday, January 7, 2011

NFL Wild Card Preview

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

The Saints are the reigning Super Bowls champions and the Seahawks are the worst team to ever make the playoffs (record wise). Only fitting that this game will be played in Seattle as I am sure the tears will be falling like the rain after the game. The Seahawks has about as much chance in this game as Lindsey Lohan does in a state store. In other words you can take this to the bank as a stone cold lock. I don’t even care what the spread is, I would give the points. The only chance I can see of Seattle making this a good game is getting up by multiple touchdowns early. Remember in 2005 when the Steelers went into Indy and put on a stun job and go up early? Well, the Seahawks will have to do that plus more against the Saints. The Seahawks can’t run the football and Matt Hasselbeck has had a pretty poor season so this Seahawks are a far, far, cry from the 2005 Steelers. If you are the Saints you have to go into this game business as usual. You can’t be lax because you don’t want a shoddy performance. You want to get out there and have this game in hand by half. Much like the Steelers did to the Browns and Panthers the Saints will (and can) do the same to Seattle. Drew Brees has thrown a lot of picks this season but I see him doing enough to get by today with his plethora of wide receivers.

Prediction: Saints 34, Seahawks 13


New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Saturday 8:00 p.m.

This should be a pretty interesting game. On one hand you have Peyton Manning, who absolutely OWNS the New York Jets defense and on the other you have a Jets team that has been playing pretty well down the stretch. The Jets came into Pittsburgh in week 15 and handed the Steelers their fourth loss of the season on a cold blistery day in December. No small feat there. The Colts on the other hand haven’t beaten a good team since they beat the Chiefs in week five. Since that win they have beaten Washington, Houston, Cincinnati, Tennessee (twice), Jacksonville and Oakland. Not exactly murders row of wins there. They also lost to Philadelphia, New England, San Diego and a Jon Kitna led Dallas team. Not too impressive. Despite not playing well against anything resembling a good football team the Jets don’t exactly have a stellar defensive backfield. You might think Revis makes the back end of the defense great, but it is not. Both of the Jets starting safeties are hurt and Antonio Cromartie has been mud all season probably because he is still trying to figure out how many kids he really does have. Peyton can make they play if he can get some time and the Jets have a very poor pass rush. The Jets can win this ball game if they can keep Peyton Manning off the field. The Jets are very good at running the football and if the Jets are going to be successful on Saturday it will be if they run the football.

Prediction: Colts 23, Jets 17


Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs 
Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

This is a game that might seem like a gimme for the Raven because of their previous playoff success and the lack of success from Kansas City, but I think this is going to be a very close game that might come down to the last possession. I think what gives the Chiefs a huge advantage is playing at home. While Seattle is lauded as having the “12th man” at their game I would argue that Arrowhead is the hardest place in the NFL to play. It is a college atmosphere for an NFL game and it helps the home team. I know many people talking in the NFL that home field doesn’t mean a whole lot but I think in this matchup it means a lot. The Chiefs are far and away the best running team in the NFL, rushing for 164.2 yards per game. Jamaal Charles is second in the NFL with 1,467 yards and if he can get going I would give the Chiefs a decent chance of winning this football game. The Ravens defense has been known to tire out at the end of games and they have given up a few leads this season so if the Chiefs are hanging around at the end of the game I give them a fighters chance to pull this off. I know there was a lot about the Chiefs there but the Ravens have playoff experience and Kansas City doesn’t. That means a lot. The run game will be important for Baltimore as Joe Flacco hasn’t been the shining star in the playoffs. Sure we hear how good Flacco is, but only one TD in his playoff games isn’t too good. Ray Rice can play some football and if that defense can get some rest they will be a tough team to beat. The Baltimore offense has also been very unimpressive considering the offseason hoopla, but they can still make some big plays. I don’t get to watch Kansas City a lot, but they quit last week against an average at best Oakland team and I just don’t’ think they are tough enough.

Prediction: Baltimore 20, Kansas City 17


Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia
Sunday, 4:30 p.m.

This is easily the best game on the wild card slate and it is set for the last game of the weekend. This team met in week one where the Eagles (albeit without MVPesque Mike Vick) lost by seven points, at Philadelphia. The Packers are not a very good road team only winning three road games this season but the Eagles are just as bad as home only winning half of their games at Lincoln Financial Field. These are two pretty evenly matched teams and it is going to be great to watch. The Packers defense has been a force all season and it will need to be up to the task as the Eagles might have the best group of dynamic offensive football players in the league. LeSean McCoy, Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin headline just ridiculous athletes that can take it to the house on any touch of the football. That four-some will be hard for any defense to stop. More than stopping the Eagles on defense is the special teams. Green Bay special teams have been shoddy at best this season and if they decide they want to kick to DeSean Jackson then they are going to lose the football game, plain and simple. Jackson is in the Devin Hester type of return mode this season and any ball he touches can go to pay dirt, just as the New York Giants. The Eagles defense is going to do one thing on Sunday and that is bring pressure. This could work out great in the Packers favor. You have to think Green Bay is going to work out of a lot of four receiver sets and let Aaron Rogers work his magic. Rogers is putting himself up there with the Brady’s and Roethlisberger’s of the NFL so the Eagles might not bring as much pressure this time around. Despite not being the most mobile of QB’s Rogers avoids pressure very well with his lateral movement and has a very talented group of wide outs and he will use them early and often. The Packers have one of the worst running games in the league so he is going to have to.

Prediction: Packers 30, Eagles 27


So there you have it. My short preview and picks. What do yinz think? Am I right?

As always leave your picks, and thoughts, in the comments.

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