Last week's record: 10-6
Season record: 169-87
Lock of the Week: 13-for-17
Wild Card Playoffs
(5) New York Jets @ (4) Cincinnati: The Jets are the worst team in the playoffs, but this is probably the best match-up they could have gotten. They destroyed the Bengals last week, but this will be different.
First of all, there's no way the Bengals can play as bad as they did last week. Carson Palmer will complete more than one pass and the defense will remember how to tackle. The Bengals are very good against the run and as long as they can do a halfway decent job at stopping it in this game, they should be fine because the Jets will not win if Mark Sanchez is forced to throw the ball more than 25 times.
Cincy wins, 24-16
(6) Philadelphia @ (3) Dallas: The result of this will depend on how much Philly learned last week in Dallas. The Cowboys killed the Eagles all game long in the flat and with the running game. Donovan McNabb seemed off and DeSean Jackson was clearly not completely healthy.
However, it's always very tough to beat a team three times in a few months. The Cowboys also have a lot of pressure on them. A lot of people are expecting them to win this game to give them their first playoff win since 1996. In the end, the pressure will be too much as the Eagles play much, much better than they did last week and get out of Dallas with a victory.
Philly wins, 34-30
(6) Baltimore @ (3) New England: The Ravens still remember their controversial loss in New England earlier this season. Their defense, as always, will come out angry and ready to hurt anyone in any kind of New England Patriots gear. To top it off, the Pats lost Wes Welker for the playoffs last week.
With that said, the Pats still have the ultimate trump card: Tom Brady. He wasn't as great this season as we're used to seeing from him, but he takes it up a level in the playoffs. This may end up being close, but Brady will not let his team lose their first playoff game.
New England wins 20-18
(5) Green Bay @ (4) Arizona: Some seem to be forgetting the run that the Cards went on in the playoffs last year with basically the same team they have right now. Like the New York Jets-Cincy game, this will be vastly different from their Week 17 matchup.
First of all, both teams have to deal with injuries from their top defensive backs (Charles Woodson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie). Both will play, but it's something that Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner will try to exploit. Both offenses are extremely explosive (although the Cards haven't shown it much this season), so it will come down to the defenses.
The Packers have a better defense, but they're also young. Much of Arizona's defense played in the Super Bowl last year and they know what it takes. This will be close throughout, but look for the home team to make more plays.
Arizona wins, 30-26
(6) Philadelphia @ (1) New Orleans: Very rarely do No. 1 seeds enter the playoffs looking as meek as the Saints have looked since they suffered their first loss. I would even question how confidant they would be coming into this game because although they beat the Eagles in Philly this season, Kevin Kolb was under center in that game. The Eagles will be riding a nice wave of momentum if they make it to this game.
The Eagles have to avoid turning the ball over not only due to the Saints' explosiveness, but also because New Orleans' defense can take it to the house at any time. The same can be said for the Saints with Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown lurking.
Simply put, if the Eagles make it to this game, they will have won seven of eight while the Saints have lost three straight. The Eagles will play better and they will win.
Philly wins, 27-21
(4) Cincinnati @ (1) Indianapolis: This should be pretty simple. The Colts are the better team. However, that's all out the window because of how the Colts played the last two weeks of the regular season.
At the end of the 2005 season, Indy rested their starters for the last two or three games of the year. After the first round bye, they welcomed the Pittsburgh Steelers to Indianapolis and looked off in the first half. They would go on to lose that game.
They have a timing-based offense and they can't afford to take as many games off as they have without being rusty for a little while. They will eventually overcome it in this game, but it will be closer than most will anticipate.
Indy wins, 26-20
(4) Arizona @ (2) Minnesota: If Arizona stops Adrian Peterson, they will win this game. Brett Favre, although he has had a great season, can't handle having the entire team on his shoulders at this point in his career.
Going into this game, Minnesota will have to commit to giving Adrian Peterson the ball at least 30 times to soften up the Cards for a few bombs, which is something that they haven't done very often with Favre under center. However, I don't think Brad Childress is thinking like that.
We know that Arizona can win in the playoffs, so if everything falls right for them and they can tune out the Metrodome faithful, they will pull the huge upset and set up a rematch of last year's NFC Championship game.
Arizona wins, 24-20
(3) New England @ (2) San Diego: The Pats just don't have the horses to stop Philip Rivers and his receivers. The Chargers receivers are all pretty tall and the Pats have a tough time stopping the pass in general.
Even with all those disadvantages, like I said earlier, the Pats still have Tom Brady. Welker's injury really hurts them, but Julian Edelman fills the void nicely. The Chargers' defense isn't great, so New England will keep pace. However, the Chargers are on a hot streak that very few teams ever get on. They will finally get past New England and move on to the AFC Championship game.
San Diego wins, 31-21
(2) San Diego @ (1) Indianapolis: It's been pretty clear for a while that these two teams have been on a collision course. A month ago, I would've picked Indy without too much thought. However, it's clear to me now that the Chargers are just the better team.
This won't have much to do with the fact that the Chargers have owned the Colts in the playoffs recently or the Colts' rust.
The result will be the way it is because the San Diego Chargers are better than the Indianapolis Colts.
San Diego wins, 30-24
(6) Philadelphia @ (4) Arizona: Last year in this game, Philly let the Cards jump out to a big lead that they fell just short of coming back from. This will be a different story.
The Eagles know they can't let that happen again. They need to do a better job of covering the deep ball than they did last year and make more plays on offense in the first half. If they can keep Arizona's offense relatively in-check, they will win and move on to the Super Bowl.
Philly wins, 30-28
Super Bowl XLIV
Philadelphia Eagles @ San Diego Chargers: When these two teams met in Week 10, Philly once again found itself in a big hole because of dumb mistakes. If they get to the Super Bowl, they will not make the same mistakes.
Donovan McNabb has been on this stage before and some feel that he came up small. I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, but he definitely didn't play his best game, which will not be the case this time. He will outplay Rivers and Philly's receivers will make more big plays than San Diego's will, giving the Eagles their first Lombardi trophy in franchise history.
Philly wins, 27-23