Here it is, we have finally reached the end of the NFL regular season, and the playoffs are set to get going. Last week we saw the Jets and Ravens lock up the final two playoff spots in the AFC. The Jets throttled the Bengals in the final game in Giants Stadium, while the Ravens led by Willis Mcgahee's huge running day were able to hold on against the Raiders. This week features four match-ups, three of which we saw last week. Each of these games played last week were blowouts, as the Cowboys beat the Eagles 24-0, the Jets beat the Bengals 37-0, and the Packers beat the Cardinals 33-7. The argument can be made that the Bengals, Cardinals, and Eagles may not have been trying their hardest in the games, but I am not buying it. Last week we saw three teams completely over match these teams, and each of the losing teams will need to put forth a much better effort in order to have any chance. The fourth game of the weekend features the playoff savvy Patriots against the Baltimore Ravens. Each of these games should be much closer than the previous week's games, and I expect another great playoff season.
GAME 1: Jets 24 @ Bengals 13
I know it sounds crazy, but this Jets team reminds me a lot of the 2000 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. I know the Jets may not have an experienced quarterback like Trent Dilfer, but I think Sanchez should be able to manage the game well enough for the Jets to win. The Jets have the best defense, offensive line, and rushing attack in the NFL. Although I am not sure if the Jets can win a Super Bowl with Sanchez, this defense gives them a great shot to make a run. This game should be more interesting than last week, as I expect Carson Palmer to throw for more than zero yards. I also expect Cedric Benson to make a difference in the running game, but I don't think it will be enough to win. Simply looking at the match-ups the Jets are superior to the Bengals every where except for the passing game; however, the Jets defense should be able to neutralize the Bengal's passing attack.
GAME 2: Eagles 24 @ Cowboys 21
Last week the Eagles were simply outclassed on the football field by the Cowboys. They were outplayed in every facet of the game, but I still see the Eagles winning this one by a small margin. The Cowboys will once again have all the pressure in the world on their shoulders. First of all they have not won a playoff game in 14 years. They will also be playing in front of their fans, while trying to earn their coach, Wade Phillips an extension. Although the Cowboys may be a better team, I just can not see the Eagles losing three times in one year to the Cowboys. If you look at last week's game the Eagles were just a few steps off from making the game much closer. Though Desean Jackson did not have a huge day, he was running wide open almost the whole game. The Eagles have also been able to neutralize Jay Ratliff and Demarcus Ware so far this season. I see Donovan Mcnabb having a much better game, and Asante Samuel intercepting a ball late to beat the Cowboys for the first time this season.
GAME 3: Ravens 20 @ Patriots 27
I see the Patriots winning this game for only one reason, experience. The Patriots may be banged up, but they still have their three time World Champion quarterback and head coach. The Ravens have looked great on the ground this season, but their defense has been shaky at times this season. Also with Ed Reed a little banged up, the Ravens defense may struggle. Last time these two teams played, the game was decided by a dropped pass in the last seconds. Though the Pats will be missing superstar receiver Wes Welker, I see them winning. The Patriots are 8-0 at Gillette Stadium since Tom Brady became the team's QB. Brady and the Patriots went undefeated at home this season, and I expect the streak to continue.
GAME 4: Packers 31 @ Cardinals 23
In the final game of the weekend I see the Packers winning through their potent offense and their turnover savvy defense. Though Charles Woodson is a little banged up, I expect the defensive player of the year candidate, to have a huge day. Since losing to the Buccaneers the Packers have been on an absolute tear, winning 7 of 8. They did lose once to the Steelers at the buzzer, but they have certainly been the hottest team in the NFC. It also seems like Anquan Boldin won't play, and even if he does he may be ineffective. Boldin has a high ankle sprain and a sprained MCL. If Boldin plays he will not be himself. Cardinals star corner, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, is questionable too. Though I don't expect this game to be anywhere near the same type of game as we saw last week, I do expect the Packers to win. Right now the Packers look like the most balanced team in the NFC. The passing attack, running game, and defense have looked spectacular. The offensive line has also improved since Mark Tauscher has stepped in. Nothing would please Aaron Rodgers more, than to get one final shot at Brett Favre and the Vikings. If the Packers win, I expect them to make a long playoff run.
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