NFL Picks Week 14: An Early Look at the Playoffs with Game-By-Game Predictions
If the season were going to end today, this how the playoff picture would look:
East: New England Patriots
North: Pittsburgh Steelers
West: Kansas City Chiefs
South: Jacksonville Jaguars
WC1: New York Jets
WC2: Baltimore Ravens
In the hunt: Colts, Bolts and Raiders
East: Philadelphia Eagles
North: Chicago Bears
West: St. Louis Rams
South: Atlanta Falcons
WC1: New Orleans Saints
WC2: New York Giants
In the hunt: Pack, Bucs and Seahawks
On to the games...
Wild Card Weekend: AFC Matchups
Baltimore at Kansas City
Ravens win, 17-14.
This will without a doubt be a defensive battle, but between these two defenses, I'd put my money on the Ravens having a slight edge on the Chiefs. On the offensive side, I'll take Joe Flacco over Matt Cassel, too—even in Arrowhead Stadium.
New York at Jacksonville
Jets win, 21-10.
The Jets will most likely stack up the run in order to contain the Jags only real weapon, Maurice Jones-Drew. I can't imagine that David Garrard is going to lead his team to too many playoff wins. Mark Sanchez has won in the playoffs before, and he'll do it again with some help from his big running game.
Wild Card Weekend: NFC Matchups
New York at Philadelphia
Eagles win, 27-20.
With his newly aquired skills as a pocket passer, Mike Vick has become an absolute nightmare for defensive coordinators, especially with the weapons he has. The Giants' only shot at beating the Eagles at the Linc would be Eli Manning outscoring their division foe, which is highly unlikely.
New Orleans at St. Louis
Saints win, 38-21.
The NFC West really doesn't deserve to send a team to the playoffs this year, plain and simple. Drew Brees and his offense will have a field day on the Rams' porous defense. However, Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford won't go down without a fight and probably spare the team a huge embarrassment.
Divisional Weekend: AFC Matchups
Baltimore at New England
Patriots win, 28-17.
Doesn't matter how good the Ravens defense is; they're not going to be able to stop a Patriots offense that's firing on all cylinders. New England already won once this year; I don't see any reason why the second meeting would have a different result.
New York at Pittsburgh
Steelers win, 13-7.
The Steelers and Jets may very well have the best two defenses in the AFC, so you can expect this one to a be low-scoring affair. However, I like two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger's chances of moving the ball a lot more than I like Mark Sanchez's.
Divisional Weekend: NFC Matchups
New Orleans at Atlanta
Falcons win, 21-17.
Michael Turner can eat clock for the Falcons and keep Drew Brees on the sideline where he can't do any damage. Even when the Saints offense is on the field, the Falcons defense will put up a fight. Matt Ryan has been almost unbeatable in the Georgia Dome this season as well.
Philadelphia at Chicago
Eagles win, 24-14.
I know the Bears won the first game, but it's unlikely that Jay Cutler will be able to pull off another four-touchdown performance against an improved Eagles defense. The Bears defense won't be able to contain Vick this time around, and if the Eagles defense doesn't fall asleep, they'll get the win in this go-around.
Pittsburgh at New England
Patriots win, 31-20.
Tom Brady exposed the Steelers at Heinz Field already, and this one would be at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. In a game that features two teams who combined have been in the Super Bowl six times in the last 10 years, winning has been abundant between these two franchises. However, New England is simply the better of these two juggernauts. Big Ben isn't going to keep pace with the Patriots offense.
Philadelphia at Atlanta
Eagles win, 28-14.
The Eagles crushed the Falcons without Vick, and with him, they're an entirely different animal. The Falcons, especially Ryan, may be very good at home this year, but not good enough to beat the Eagles. The Hollywood plot thickens if Vick beats his old team in the Georgia Dome on his way to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLV
New England vs. Philadelphia
Patriots win, 35-31.
Just like the year prior, two powerhouse offenses square off to fight for the Lombardi Trophy. Great matchups in this one as well. Michael Vick might be the most electric player ever under center, and Tom Brady carves up defenses like a surgeon. Bill Belichick and Andy Reid are both football geniuses. I don't think the defenses will matter much in this one, as both offenses will make big plays all over the field.
This won't be the first time they've met in the Super Bowl; the Patriots beat the Eagles in 2005. I have confidence that the Patriots will take this one too and go back to Foxboro with another trophy.