NFL Playoff Scenarios: Predicting the Most Likely First-Round Matchups

Ross ColemanAnalyst IDecember 25, 2010

NFL Playoff Scenarios: Predicting The Most Likely First-Round Matchups

0 of 8

    Elsa/Getty Images

    The playoffs are just around the corner, meaning it's time to start projecting, prognosticating and predicting.

    Each conference has two teams locked into playoff berths currently and only Chicago has locked up a division title. That means there are still eight spots up for grabs as well as the top two seeds in each conference.

    Will Green Bay or San Diego sneak into the playoffs? What about the NFC West? Which team will get the home playoff game out of that muddied division?

    Read ahead for predictions on the eight teams that will be playing first-round games and who they will likely be matched up with.

AFC No. 6: New York Jets

1 of 8

    Karl Walter/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: AFC No. 3 San Diego Chargers

    Why They Will Win: The Jets have one of the best defenses in the NFL and they have the defensive weapons to match up against a strong Chargers offense. Also, quarterback Mark Sanchez plays best in warmer weather. Playing in San Diego would help Sanchez to play more comfortably.

    Why They Will Lose: The offense has been declining for the Jets. Sure, the defense is great, but stopping the Chargers' offense takes more than a good defense, the Jets would need to outscore San Diego. 

    Prediction: San Diego 24, New York 17

NFC No. 6: Green Bay Packers

2 of 8

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: NFC No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles

    Why They Will Win: Green Bay may have been slammed with injuries this year, but they still have players at key positions. They have a stout defense along with a franchise quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Before the season they were one of the popular Super Bowl picks, but now they are just fighting for their playoff life.

    Why They Will Lose: The lack of a running game has put the Packers in this position. Throw in the fact that the Packers haven't played well on the road this year and playing in Philadelphia is not an easy thing.

    Prediction: Philadelphia 35, Green Bay 21

AFC No. 5: Baltimore Ravens

3 of 8

    Larry French/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: AFC No. 4 Indianapolis Colts

    Why They Will Win: There is the old adage, "Defense wins championships." Well the Ravens have built a franchise on that premise. Baltimore can be almost as much of a threat to score on defense as they are on offense. 

    Why They Will Lose: The fact that the defense is almost as much of a threat to score as the offense is a huge problem. The Ravens offense hasn't lived up to the hype despite addition of weapons in the passing game. Ray Rice and the running game have struggled this year. It's tough to win a playoff game if you are struggling to put up points.

    Prediction: Baltimore 20, Indianapolis 17

NFC No. 5: New Orleans Saints

4 of 8

    Larry French/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: NFC No. 4 St. Louis Rams

    Why They Will Win: The Saints offense against the Rams defense is a mismatch in every sense of the word. Plus this would be a rematch of a week 14 game where the Saints won in St. Louis, 31-13.

    Why They Will Lose: The Saints defense is missing something. I don't know if it's pride or what, but if New Orleans loses it will be because the defense suffers a let down, not the offense.

    Prediction: New Orleans 28, St. Louis 14

AFC No. 4: Indianapolis Colts

5 of 8

    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: AFC No. 5 Baltimore Ravens

    Why They Will Win: Two word: Peyton Manning. Everything success the Colts have is because of Peyton Manning. If they win it will be because Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and the Colts are close to a playoff berth despite the gaping holes all over this roster.

    Why They Will Lose: There are plenty of reasons the Colts could lose. The running game, the defense, the offensive line, or Manning trying to do too much. The Colts are lucky to be in the position they are currently in and they have a high degree of difficulty to get a win.

    Prediction: Baltimore 20, Indianapolis 17

NFC No. 4: St. Louis Rams

6 of 8

    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: NFC No. 5 New Orleans Saints

    Why They Will Win: The fact that the Rams are in control of a playoff spot has everything to do with adding Sam Bradford through the draft this year. Bradford has provided stability to an offense that had been lacking it since the early days of Marc Bulger. If the Rams win it will be because Bradford learned from the mistakes he made in week 14 against this same Saints team.

    Why They Will Lose: The Rams defense is not quite where it needs to be for a long playoff run. Especially with a matchup against the high powered Saints offense, this is not really the type of game that the Rams would be able to win.

    Prediction: New Orleans 28, St. Louis 14

AFC No. 3 San Diego Chargers

7 of 8

    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: AFC No. 6 New York Jets

    Why They Will Win: First off I think the Chargers get in because the Chiefs lose one of their remaining games to fall out of the playoffs. But against the Jets the Chargers win because of a stellar pass offense and a stout pass defense.

    Why They Will Lose: Special teams. San Diego's special teams are among the worst in the league and have be the reason for a few Charger losses this year. Sounds like a bit of a long shot, but the Chargers special teams are so bad that even on a good day they could still give up some bad plays.

    Prediction: San Diego 24, New York 17

NFC No. 3: Philadelphia Eagles

8 of 8

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Who They Will Play: NFC No. 6 Green Bay Packers

    Why They Will Win: In the words of Mike Lombardi, "The Eagles are a three-point shooting team." No he wasn't referring to field goals. He was referring to the knack for big plays. Any game where the Eagles can get big plays, they will likely come away with a win.

    Why They Will Lose: If the Packers defense can get pressure on Michael Vick and force him into bad foot-work and bad decisions, the Eagles will lose.

    Prediction: Philadelphia 35, Green Bay 21