The NFL Regular Season has come and gone, the field is set, and it's now time for some playoff football. It's a wide open field, now that the previously undefeated New Orleans Saints in the NFC, and Indianapolis Colts in the AFC have come back down to earth, and other teams have emerged and are peaking at the right time. Three of the four wild-card matchups coincidently are matchups from Week 17 but let’s get into the matchups, and forecast the future...
In the AFC
-New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
There are no words to describe how badly the Jets just manhandled the Bengals to creep into the playoffs. The Jet running game and defense were unstoppable.
Even though the game will be in Cincy this time, there is no doubting that if the Jets repeat their performance next Saturday, it won't matter if they play in a parking lot, the Jets will win.
But that’s the question: can the Jets repeat this performance? Something tells me after being shut out by Darrelle Revis tonight, Chad Ochocinco is going to rebound and do his Fireman Ed Touchdown celebration he previously had planned for tonight.
Another large factor was Cincy running back Cedric Benson not playing tonight, and with a week of rest under his belt he will be a huge factor next week.
The Jets are on fire coming into the playoffs, but I like the Bengals to rebound next week.
Bengals 17-Jets 14
- Baltimore Ravens At New England Patriots
This is the lone Wild Card matchup that isn't a Week 17 rematch, and I think this will be the most intriguing one.
The Pats are hurting BADLY, tragically losing the NFL's top receiver Wes Welker to a Torn ACL and MCL today against Houston, and now reports are that Quarterback Tom Brady has a broken rib and index finger on his throwing hand.
The Ravens are a very enigmatic team, but I think the result of this game will hinge on one player:New Rochelle's own Running Back Ray Rice. He had a fantastic season from scrimmage, and if he can garner 125-150 yards of total offense I love the Ravens to take down Belichick and Brady in Foxboro.
My guess is Rice will make that prediction come true against a Patriots defense that is not very good this year, uncharacteristically.
Ravens 31-Patriots 21
In The NFC
- Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
I believe this will be the most lopsided of the four matchups. The Eagles are highly overrated, and I think the Cowboys will beat them WORSE than they did today.
The Eagles defense is very suspect, tackling being the key. This defense gives up a ton of points, and the only reason no one has noticed it is because their great offense is able to mask it.
The Cowboys, I believe, are on a mission. They have broken the December Jinx with a 3-1 showing, and they will not stop there. They will finally erase playoff somber as well
Cowboys 35-Eagles 14
- Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
This is a good matchup, and I like the Cardinals a lot, they are better than their Super Bowl team of a year ago. However, they are getting the worst possible draw here by getting the Packers again, who demolished them today.
Green Bay is red hot on both sides of the ball, and they will handle Kurt Warner and the Cardinals to get a trip to New Orleans.
Packers 24-Cardinals 13
Divisional Rounds (AFC)
- Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers
A rematch of a great Week 15 game that came down to the final seconds with San Diego prevailing.
I don't see it being as close again. MVP candidate Quarterback Phillip Rivers is playing exceptionally and will continue it throughout these playoffs. I think we will see an emergence of LaDainian Tomlinson who finally comes into the playoffs healthy as opposed to the last two years.
If Cincy's run game with Cedric Benson is there than this game could be just as close as the Week 15 matchup, but I think the Bengals amazing season comes to an end in So Cal
Chargers 28-Bengals 13
- Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
Once again the X-factor for the Ravens will be Ray Rice. When Ray Rice plays well it’s like a trickle-down effect. QB Joe Flacco then plays well, and the defense then plays well.
However, I don’t think it will matter, because the Baltimore defense will not be able to stop Peyton Manning and Co.
After a 14-0 start, the Colts have dropped their last two, but more from a result of not playing starters.
The Colts know what they are doing, they are gearing up for a Super Bowl run, and it starts with a win here against the Ravens
Colts 37-Ravens 28
Divisional Rounds (NFC)
- Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
Much like the Colts, the Saints started 13-0, and have lost their last three heading in. But unlike the Colts, the Saint have lost with their starters, and arguably could be sporting a five game losing streak if it weren’t for two fluky plays that got them to 13-0.
I see this game being much like 2007, when the Giants went into Dallas and shocked the Cowboys. Green Bay will strike early, they will battle back and forth, but in the end the Pack will hold them off.
Packers 31-Saints 28
- Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
It's no secret the Minnesota Vikings might be the most talented team in football, but they also come in struggling. Their 44-7 win over the Giants did not impress me at all for the fact that Giants defense checked out a month ago, and the Vikings had dropped three of their previous four games before that.
Like I said earlier, the Cowboys are on a mission, and Tony Romo is especially. He will out-duel his idol Brett Favre and pull the shocker in the Metrodome
Cowboys 21-Vikings 20
- San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts
The Chargers just seem to have the Colts number. They've eliminated them from the playoffs the past two years, and I believe they have won the past four matchups as well.
The Colts never have an answer for little running back Darren Sproles, and on top of that I believe their defense won’t be able to stop the dynamic duo of tight end Antonio Gates and receiver Vincent Jackson.
Peyton and the gang will keep it close and interesting as it always is, but the Chargers will pull it out again and head to Miami.
Chargers 28-Colts 24
- Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
A fantastic matchup between two of the most prestigious NFL franchises will not disappoint.
Another rematch from earlier in the season, which was where the Packers turned their season around when they defeated Dallas 17-7 at Lambeau. I can see it being much of the same, but I love quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, they are on fire, and the defense hasn’t been too shabby either.
Green Bay ends the Cowboys playoff run and go to Miami
Packers 17-Cowboys 10
*** SUPER BOWL XLIV in Miami ***
- Green Bay Packers Vs San Diego Chargers
This matchup will pit two great young quarterbacks who will lead us into the next decade between Phillip Rivers of the Chargers and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers.
These are the two hottest teams going into the Playoffs, and I like the Chargers to take the crown.
I feel like this is finally the Chargers' year to finally get that elusive Super Bowl ring. They come into the playoffs with a healthy core (finally) of Tomlinson and Gates, added on with the emergence of receivers Jackson and Malcolm Floyd. The defense is good with two great corners Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer, who can slow down the Packers air attack, resulting in a Chargers victory.
Chargers 27-Packers 17 /// Super Bowl MVP Phillip Rivers