2010 NFL Playoffs: Ranking the Games We Want To See
The 2011 NFL Playoffs are upon us, and the Wild Card matchups are decided. How else can we celebrate but by choosing the games we want to see in the upcoming weeks. Here are the Top 10 POSSIBLE games, ranked from 10th to first, that we, as football fans, would love to see.
Here come the best of the best!
Note: I did not take how likely the game is into consideration, only how good of a game it would be. The predictions would be my predictions if the two teams were meeting this week.
10. New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears
Where it can happen: In the Divisional round if the Saints and Eagles win this weekend or in the Conference Championship game if the Saints and Packers win this weekend, and the Saints and Bears win their divisional games.
Why it's here: Do you remember when the Saints needed to win in the Conference Championship game to play the Colts in the Super Bowl? No, not last year! 2007! That was the last playoff matchup between these two franchises, and the Bears prevailed en route to their Super Bowl loss to Indianapolis. And In 2007 and 2008, the Bears won late-season games against the Saints that destroyed any last hope of New Orleans making the playoffs.
Now, the Bears sit at the second seed in the NFC and the Saints in the fifth seed, with a decent chance of a playoff rematch happening at some point. Drew Brees and the Saints still have one of the most dangerous offenses in the game, and Chicago has experienced a defensive rebirth this year. Urlacher vs. Brees rematch? I'm all for it.
Prediction: New Orleans 24, Chicago 14.
9. New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
Where it can happen: Divisional Round or NFC Championship Game
Why it's here: The first in-division matchup on our list; this one looks like one of the best. Matt Ryan and Drew Brees are two of the NFC's best QB's, and both will be incredibly driven to get a win. Interestingly, each team won on the road vs. the other this year. I can't see New Orleans repeating its feat, especially considering how good the Falcons are at home.
Prediction: Atlanta 37, New Orleans 28
8. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
Where it can happen: AFC Conference Championship
Why it's here: The top two seeds in the AFC deserve a lot of respect. The Patriots may have dominated the Steelers in Pittsburgh, but now the Steelers are out for revenge. The best scoring offense in the NFL vs. the best scoring defense in the NFL is reason enough to watch this game but with Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger trading scores? This has all the makings of a great playoff game.
Prediction: New England 31, Pittsburgh 23
7. Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons
Where it can happen: Divisional Round, Conference Championship
Why it's here: The Eagles and Falcons are the third and fifth top scoring teams in the league, respectively, and they are first and second in the NFC. While fans of high-scoring games will tune in just for that, consider this: the Falcons will be out for blood in the rematch. While Atlanta couldn't get it done in Philly Week 6, they certainly will have the motivation to contain Vick and outscore the Eagles dangerous offense.
Prediction: Atlanta 31, Philadelphia 24
6. New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts
Where it can happen: In the Super Bowl.
Why it's here: A Super Bowl rematch? It's not out of the question. Peyton Manning would come into this game more motivated than any game he's played since the 2006 AFC Championship game against New England and is unlikely to make the same mistake twice.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees and the Saints seem uniquely able to match Manning's preparation with passion and drive. This was the game of the year last year, and part II would be an instant classic.
Prediction: Indianapolis 30, New Orleans 24
5. Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
Where it can happen: Only in the NFC Championship game, if both the Packers and the Saints win both their Wild Card and Divisional games.
Why it's here: Though this is by far the most unlikely game, it features two teams that are going into the playoffs a little under the radar. The Packers and Saints seem to have worked out most of their problems, and both have something to prove.
The Saints want to erase any accusations of a Super Bowl hangover, and the Packers want respect as a playoff team under Aaron Rodgers. Featuring two of the NFC's best QB's as well as two defenses that don't get the respect they deserve, this game has all the makings of a classic.
Prediction: Green Bay 27, New Orleans 24
4. Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Where it can happen: In the divisional round of the playoffs or in the Conference Championship.
Why it's here: Ravens-Steelers is one of the best rivalries in the NFL today, and every time you watch them play, you see some of the highest quality football (especially the highest quality defense) the NFL has to offer. Brutal, tough, exciting games highlighted by great running games characterize this series.
Baltimore, after consistent postseason letdowns, has as much to prove as any team in the playoffs and will play their heart out every game. Fans of smash-mouth defense, this is your game.
Prediction: Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 18
3. Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots
Where it can happen: AFC Championship game, if the Colts beat the Jets and Steelers, and the Patriots beat the winner of the Ravens-Chiefs game.
Why it's here: Let me give you some numbers to start:
Those are the scores of every Colts-Pats matchup since the 2006-2007 playoffs. Not a single game was won by more than four points. It seems like every meeting between the two is a gift from the football gods and another AFC Championship game between Manning and Brady? Get ready for some top-tier quarterbacking and another classic between the NFL's two winning-est franchises since 2000.
Prediction: New England 35, Indianapolis 34
2. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Where it can happen: Super Bowl
Why it's here: The Eagles have an electric offense under Michael Vick. Vick is a weapon all by himself and rushes at a ridiculous clip. LeSean McCoy is no joke at running back and may be the Eagles secret weapon. DeSean Jackson is the most exciting player in the NFL and a speed demon like no other.
That said, the Steelers allow 14.5 points per game, best in the NFL. When the Eagles offense is on the field, you will see a chess game of the highest quality, with Troy Polamalu and Michael Vick's squads going for it all in the Pennsylvania Bowl.
Prediction: Philadelphia 28, Pittsburgh 27
1. New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
Where it can happen: Super Bowl.
Why it's here: The old guard vs. the young guns. The Falcons are a young team with a great future ahead of them. The Patriots have four Super Bowl appearances in the last nine years. This could be an extension of one of the great dynasties in NFL history or the beginning of the next great dynasty. Tom Brady is one of the best ever to play the game, and Matt Ryan is one of the best young QB's in the NFL. As Ryan looks to make the next step, Brady looks to beef up his already impressive legacy.
Oh, and did I mention that these are the two best teams in the NFL this year? This matchup, like Colts-Saints last year, is the game everybody wants to see. A fan can only dream...
Prediction: OT: Falcons 34, Patriots 31