The 2011 NFL playoff schedule is set and the Wild Card Round kicks-off this weekend. The NFL playoffs have some familiar faces, like Peyton Manning, and some very fresh ones, like Charlie Whitehurst, but it's the Any Given Sunday aspect that makes the NFL so great.
Here are the games, key matchups, and predictions for this weekend's action. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JohnLorge for everything NFL.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
When: Saturday, January 8th, 4:30PM ET, NBC
Key Matchup: New Orleans Saints vs. The 12th Man
N.O. will be traveling just over 2,000 miles to play Seattle and they enter one of the most disruptive environments in NFL history.
Seahawks fans will come out hot and if the game remains close they will only get louder. Get a two score lead quick and take them out of the game.
Biggest Question: Who Will Start at QB For Seattle?
It's been reported that Matt Hasselbeck could have played on Sunday but not at 100 percent. With an extra week of rest the veteran could be ready to return, but will he?
Charlie Whitehurst lacks experience but he does give Seattle more mobility in the pocket. In the past two games he has completed more than 60 percent of his passes and he hasn't thrown an interception—go with what got you there.
X-Factor: Reggie Bush
Injured last time these teams played, Bush had 125 total yards on 14 touches last week against Tampa and looks back to form.
Prediction: Saints 28, Seahwaks 10
This is playoff football and I'm still not satisfied Seattle is a playoff team.
Must Read: Power Ranking All 12 Playoff Coaches
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
When: Saturday, January 8th, 8PM ET, NBC
Key Matchup: Reggie Wayne vs. Darrelle Revis
In two games last season Wayne had six catches for 88 yards. The Colts and Jets split games so you might not think it's a big deal but with how thin Indy's offense is at receiver, taking Wayne out of the gameplan will be a major advantage for Indy.
Biggest Question: Which Peyton Manning Will Show Up?
We've seen the peaks and troughs of Manning this season. Historically he has been great against Rex Ryan defenses but everyone's luck seems to turn eventually when you have two elite opponents.
X-Factor: LaDanian Tomlinson & Shonn Greene
The Jets don't want to get in a QB dual with the Colts. Indy had the 25th best rush D this year which should allow NY to do what they do best on offense.
Tomlinson gets the attention but Greene is very capable of delivering the knockout blows.
Prediction: Jets 24, Colts 21
NY needs to keep Manning off the field, and at bay by scoring TDs. Rex Ryan hits the road and wins again in the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
When: Sunday, January 9th, 1PM ET, CBS
Key Matchup: Jamaal Charles vs. Ravens D
Averaging 6.4 yards per carry, Charles has been eating yards this season. If Baltimore can hold Charles and force passing situations then Ed Reed can ball-hawk over Dwayne Bowe.
Biggest Question: Is KC For Real?
The Chiefs went 7-1 at home but the only playoff teams they faced all year were Indy (L) and Seattle (W).
It's been a great season for the fans but Baltimore had seven games against double-digit win teams.
X-Factor: Ray Lewis
With his best shot of getting back to the Super Bowl since going, look for Lewis to dominate from beginning to end.
Prediction: Ravens 33, Chiefs 14
Winning their last four, Baltimore comes rolling in the playoffs hot.
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
When: Sunday, January 9th, 4:30PM ET, FOX
Key Matchup: Michael Vick vs. Clay Matthews
Few have been able to contain Vick over the years but Matthews has a relentless motor.
Biggest Question: Quarterback Health
Aaron Rodgers and Vick are both one play away from the sidelines. We've seen their backups play well at times but in the playoffs if either goes down it could spell doom for their respective teams.
X-Factor: DeSean Jackson
This game is full of X-factors but Jackson managed to break 1000 receiving yards with less than 50 catches this season.
Oh yeah, he returns punts too.
Prediction: Packers 27, Eagles 24
We've seen Philly lack focus too often this season, Rodgers has been playing close games all year and he is ready to win this one.
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