NFL Playoffs: Opening Round Predictions and Scores
The NFL Playoffs have finally arrived and for the first time in several years, there is no real favorite to win it all.
The Super Bowl is wide open this year and what about the possibility of a Rodgers vs Favre playoff rematch? How about Manning vs Brady again? The battle of the USC quarterbacks should be interesting on Saturday as well. Or perhaps McNabb will finally break through and win a ring.
Last postseason, I predicted the Cardinals would play in the Super Bowl, and they did. Let's hope I can be as accurate as last year, and hopefully we have a January to remember!
Feel free to give me your predictions as well, it is always great to hear other opinions. Let the predictions begin...
Saturday: New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
Although this game maybe the least glamourous, there is no doubt in my mind that this could be the best game of the weekend, especially if you like defense.
Carson Palmer and the Bengals really miss Chris Henry's presence and deep-threat abilities, but the biggest problem they had last week was stopping the Jets rushing attack.
The Jets have a rookie quarterback that has had a successful season, but Mark Sanchez has also thrown a ton of interceptions and is still learning how to protect the football with two hands during a sack.
But the Bengals are sick and tired of hearing about last week's beatdown and hearing about Rex Ryan talk up his team as though they are undefeated.
Yeah, the Jets are dangerous and Ryan is a very good coach, but I think Cincy stacks the box with eight players on every play and forces Sanchez to throw down field. Home field advantage is also huge for the Bengals. Look for Palmer to have his best game in weeks and for the Bengals to cause at least two turnovers.
Whoever wins this game will have the most points off of turnovers. I think Cincy will and they pull out a hard-nosed defensive battle.
Winner: Bengals 16-13
Saturday: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Say what you want to say about Tony Romo, he has had a very good year and looks to be more focused than any other time in his career. The Eagles have a very talented team with enough fire power and defense to beat the Cowboys in their own massive stadium.
Romo will have a good game. The Dallas defense will not be nearly as good as last weekend but will still handle the Eagles lack of wide receiver depth. DeSean Jackson is a stud and could put on a show and even dance on the star, but his comments earlier in the weekly were likely posted on the Cowboys bulletin board.
The media has doubted Wade Phillips and the Cowboys all year and told them they couldn't win in December and January, yet here they are playing the best football the Dallas fanbase has seen in years.
The key to this game is the Eagles' ground game. If they are unable to rush for over 100 yards on the Cowboys, they will most likely not win. Dallas will bring the pressure from everywhere. Not only is ground game critical for Philly, the Cowboys also need to have a successful rushing attack.
The team that wins will have the most rush yards, and I like Dallas' chances. It should be a great game, with more offense than last week's game.
Winner: Cowboys 28-20
Sunday: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Many people and media outlets think that the Patriots season went down the drain last weekend when Wes Welker injured his knee. But I think the Patriots still have a lot to work with and I believe Tom Brady will have a huge day.
The Ravens are feeling very confident and their offense is much better than in recent years. However, the defense seems to be getting older and it appears there are a few holes on that side of the ball.
The key to this game for the Patriots has nothing to do with their offense. The Pats' defense needs to pressure and halt the Ravens power rushing attack. The Pats need to control the clock and the defense needs to get off the field as quick as possible. The longer you let Baltimore's power runners hit you in the chest, the more likely it is that you will lose.
Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco needs to play smart and play with poise. If he gets behind early in New England, he HAS to take it one play at a time and not force the issue.
The team that controls the ball for the longest amount of time will win this game. It should be close, but it is hard to pick against the Patriots in the playoffs.
Winner: Patriots 31-26
Sunday: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
Who would have thought that the Green Bay Packers would be one of the hottest teams in the NFL and is arguably the biggest darkhorse to make a deep run to the Super Bowl. Ironically, the Packers are playing against a team that made a similar run in the playoffs last season in the Arizona Cardinals.
Kurt Warner has been absolutely brilliant one game, and the next game he will throw three interceptions. Anquon Boldin is banged up and the rushing attack for the Cards is struggling, to say the least.
Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers is proving why he is a top tier NFL quarterback and Clay Matthews Jr. from "Linebacker U" (USC) is having an outstanding year. The defense for the Packers is under appreciated and with all of Arizona's question marks and injuries, this game smells like Wisconsin cheese.
The team that wins this game will be the team that has the most sacks and quarterback hurries. I think Green Bay has a chance to be this year's Arizona Cardinals of 2008.
Winner: Packers 34-24