NFL Playoff Predictions: Which Team Could Pull the Biggest Upset?
The NFL Playoffs are here, and while it's always sad to see the regular season end, the playoffs almost never disappoint.
We're going to look at all of this week's playoff matchups and see who's going to win, and who might lose.
We'll even look at the point spreads, for whatever those are worth, and try and figure out if there are any upsets to be found in this week's slate of games.
My record this season was pretty good, so hopefully my winning ways will continue into 2011.
*Note: All picks were made straight up. While we will look at the Vegas lines, all picks in this piece also are straight up.
Last Week: 9-7
Complete NFL Schedule
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released the NFL playoff schedule on Sunday, and this weekend's games are as follows.
New Orleans Saints Vs. Seattle Seahawks at 4:30 p.m. on NBC
New York Jets Vs. Indianapolis Colts at 8 p.m. on NBC
Baltimore Ravens Vs. Kansas City Chiefs at 1 p.m. on CBS
Green Bay Packers Vs. Philadelphia Eagles at 4:30 p.m. on FOX
New Orleans Saints Vs. Seattle Seahawks Part I
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Vegas Line: Saints by 10.5 points
First Read On The Saints: The Saints are a team that has been very inconsistent this season. They seemingly suffered a Super Bowl hangover early in the season, barely getting a few wins over bad teams and then losing to the Cleveland Browns. However, they rallied after the Browns loss only to falter the last two weeks of the season.
The Matchup: The Saints are better than the Seahawks on both sides of the ball. You can't even compare Drew Brees and Charlie Whitehurst at this point. Matt Hasselbeck may be back for the start, but that doesn't guarantee the Seahawks offense will put a lot of points on the board.
Head Coach Sean Payton will be looking at what happened the last two weeks, especially against Tampa Bay, and most likely, you'll see the most prepared Saints team you've seen all year.
New Orleans Saints Vs. Seattle Seahawks Part II
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Vegas Line: The Seahawks are 10.5-point underdogs.
First Read On The Seahawks: The Seahawks are 7-9, and winners of the NFC West. This isn't something to be proud of, it's something to be grateful for. Head Coach Pete Carroll took over a team in transition, and that transition has barely begun.
The Matchup: The Seahawks only advantage is homefield. The Saints have to travel across the country and play the Seahawks on a short week. However, the Seahawks defense won't be playing the Rams this week, and while this team does have the potential to upset the Seahawks, it's just not going to happen.
My pick: Saints 38 Seahawks 13
New York Jets Vs. Indianapolis Colts Part I
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Vegas Line: Jets are Three-point Underdogs
First Look At The Jets: The Jets had a much tougher season than their final record of 11-5 would indicate. They lost bad to the Patriots, lost to the Ravens, got shutout by the Packers, and lost to the Bears. Those are all playoff teams. Their only non-playoff team loss was to the Dolphins. Most of their wins were close, pulled out in the fourth quarter or overtime. This isn't a playoff team to inspire confidence.
The Matchup: Mark Sanchez is nursing a sore shoulder. Darrelle Revis isn't 100 percent. Braylon Edwards has been good this season, but he can start dropping the ball at an alarming rate with no warning. The Colts defense is ranked 13th against the pass, so Sanchez won't get a day off.
New York Jets Vs. Indianapolis Colts Part II
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Vegas Line: The Colts are three-point favorites
First Look At The Colts: The Colts didn't have double digit wins in the regular season for the first time in what seems like forever. Head Coach Jim Caldwell clearly is not Tony Dungy, and the Colts three-game slide in November was particularly disturbing. Still, Peyton Manning is one of the best, and he appears to have corrected his mistakes that led to 11 interceptions in that three-game slide earlier in the year.
The Matchup: The Colts have Joseph Addai back, so they now have a better running game to go along with Manning's arm, and Manning shouldn't feel pressure to do everything himself. The Colts defense neutralized Chris Johnson this week of the Titans, so the Jets can't hope to just give the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson and expect him to get 150 yards if Sanchez still is having shoulder problems.
My Pick: Colts 28 Jets 17
Baltimore Ravens Vs. Kansas City Chiefs Part I
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Vegas Line: Ravens are favored by 2.5 points
First Look At The Ravens: The Ravens lost to the Steelers in Week 13 by three points, and that became the difference between winning the AFC North, and getting into the postseason with a Wildcard. The Ravens defense has been weak at times this year, giving up 30 points to Buffalo one week, but they've looked stronger and stronger as the season began winding down, and Joe Flacco looks like he's ready for a deep postseason run.
The Matchup: It's tough to bet against Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, but if anyone can take on the Ravens, it's the Chiefs. They have Charlie Weiss and Romeo Crennel on the sidelines as coordinators. The Ravens are ranked fifth in rushing defense, and the Chiefs are ranked No. 1 in the rush with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones sharing backfield duties.
Baltimore Ravens Vs. Kansas City Chiefs Part II
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Vegas Line: The Chiefs are 2.5-point underdogs.
First Look At The Chiefs: The Chiefs have the best running game in the NFL, a key component of winning playoff games. Matt Cassel has gotten steadily better throughout the 2010 season, and the Chiefs can hit you with multiple weapons on offense. The defense has been pretty middle-of-the-road, but if anyone can pick apart the Ravens offense, it'll be Romeo Crennel.
The Matchup: The Chiefs are going to attack the Ravens with Cassel and the passing game. The Ravens have the fifth-ranked rushing defense, and the Chiefs probably will use the running game to keep the Ravens on the line long enough to pick them apart downfield.
My Pick: UPSET!! Chiefs 21 Ravens 20
Green Bay Packers Vs. Philadelphia Eagles Part I
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Vegas Line: The Packers are 2.5-point underdogs
First Look At The Packers: The Green Bay Packers were supposed to run away with the NFC North this year, but their running game ended up on the injured reserve list, Aaron Rodgers suffered two concussions, the defense got thinned by injuries early on, and a string of games with horrendous amounts of penalties put the Packers in as a Wildcard.
The Matchup: The Packers have Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and a huge desire to make up for lost time. Clay Matthews is a game-changer, and he'll have Michael Vick in his crosshairs from the moment the ball is kicked off.
Green Bay Packers Vs. Philadelphia Eagles Part II
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Vegas Line: The Eagles are 2.5-point favorites.
First Look At The Eagles: The Eagles have Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy on offense. The Eagles have been one of the big stories of the 2010 season as Vick ascended very quickly to the starter's position, and the Eagles won the NFC East.
The Matchup: The Eagles multiple weapons on offense, plus Vick's dual threat with his arm and his legs, to keep the Packers busy. Clay Matthews is the wildcard in this wildcard matchup, because if there's anyone out there who can contain Vick, it's Matthews. However, Matthews can't be everywhere, and it becomes a point-battle with the Eagles getting the edge.
My Pick: Eagles 31 Packers 24