2011 NFL Wild Card Weekend: Sorting Out Winners From The Losers, Game By Game

Kate Conroy@@ladylovespinsSenior Analyst IIJanuary 4, 2011

The NFL Playoffs start this weekend with the four Wild Card teams traveling to the homes of the bottom two-division winners.

The top two teams in the AFC and the NFC both get a bye, as they will wait to see who their opponents will be in the Divisional Rounds.


New England Patriots (14-2)

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

Baltimore Ravens*(12-4)

New York Jets*(10-6)


Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

Chicago Bears (11-5)

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

New Orleans Saints*(11-5)

Green Bay Packers*(10-6)

Now, let's separate the winners form the losers by looking at Wild Card Weekend, game by game:


Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets*

Even thought the Jets have hailed themselves the team to beat, Colts QB Peyton Manning is dynamic and has had the Jets number in the past.

The Jets defense loves to blitz the opposing QB, but won’t work because Manning gets better under pressure. Fact is the Jets defense was better in 2009 and Manning eat them alive in the second half of AFC Championship Game.

The Jets-D needs to figure out how to get back there and fast because the Colts O-line sits atop the NFL. Leadership is one of Manning’s biggest strengths, but it is quite the opposite for Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who floundered in the second half of the season.

The Colts defense’s weakness is stopping the run, so that should take some of the demands off Sanchez, as the Jets will run the ball a lot. LT and Shonn Greene will have to come up big for Game-green, hopefully resting Week 17 will help the tandem get healthy again.

Look for the Jets to use back-up QB Brad Smith to run the Wild Cat to shake-up the Colts-D, but the veteran defense with lots of playoff experience won’t be fooled that much.

Rex Ryan needs to get his head checked and "making it personal" with Manning is just setting up his team to get killed. Ryan just needs to put a foot in his mouth. 



Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens*

The Chiefs are legitimate again, as Kansas City has football fever but facing the Ravens will be a huge test. The Chiefs ended the season losing at home to the Raiders, which left too many questions on the table.

The Ravens have only gotten better, and RB Ray Rice has finally found his feet towards in the second half of the season. Rice can pound the average Chiefs defense, but the Ravens offense is very balanced all-around and QB Joe Flacco has proven very solid at the helm.

The Chiefs offense relies heavily on the run game, with duo Jamal Charles and Thomas Jones. Ravens defense stops the run better than anyone, so Chiefs will be forced to throw.

QB Matt Cassel is just not reliable as a deep passer and the Ravens are weak defending deep, middle passes. Cassel will have to relay on his arm against playoff teams, and the Chiefs have not defeated a playoff team all season.

Arrowhead Stadium is known to be one of the nosiest and the fans have definitely done their part in 2010, so expect the place to be shaken on Saturday afternoon but it won’t be enough.



Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers*

Michael Vick, need I say more?

If Vick is on fire, following a week off to tend to his beaten body it spells trouble for whoever the opponent. Vick is the Eagles superman and if the Eagles O-line continues not to protect Vick, he will continue to get slammed.

Look for the Eagles to use the wildcat with back-up QB Kevin Kolb, which we haven’t seen much of this season. Coach Reid will spice up the playbook in the postseason, and who wouldn’t when versatile Vick is your QB. Green Bay’s defense loves the blitz, so Vick hopefully watched a lot of tape of Green Bay’s defense, especially of Woodsen who will pressure him all game long.

Offensively, the Eagles are more diverse, but Green Bay QB Aaron Rogers is a great passer and he has a group of solid guys to throw it too. Green Bay doesn’t run the ball much, so at least the Eagles defense will know what to look for but they have to on there game still.

Rogers and Vick have both faced injuries in the regular season, both been either awesome or awful. Rogers ended the season with two wins, while Vick lost his last and the Eagles lost the final game, with Vick mending himself. Not playing in Green Bay doesn’t help the Eagles, but it does hurt Green Bay.

The Eagles have been so-so at home, but Philly fans are still waiting for a Superbowl so expect Lincoln Financial Field to be rocking.

This is the closet match-up of the four Wild Card games. Both teams have vivacious leaders in Vick and Rodgers, but Green Bay had to work to get the last spot in playoffs, as the Eagles were more consistent over the season.

Eagles have better running game and special teams, but Green Bay is better on defense. Both O-lines need to protect their biggest assets a lot better.

The outcome will be determined on Vick’s play, without a doubt.



Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints*

The Seahawks clinched the NFC West with a 7-9 record and they are hosting the reigning World Champion Saints.

The playoffs allow for a clean slate, but considering how weak the NFC West Division in the regular season, the Seahawks chalkboard will remain dusty until proving otherwise.

Beating the Saints would do the job, but that will entail getting past QB Drew Brees and just a better overall team.

The Saints running game is not as dominate as it was, so the Seahawks best chance to win is by making the Saints cause their own mistakes because their defense sucks at stopping the run.

This is the most lopsided match-up of the weekend. It is the Saints game to win or lose; being on the road doesn’t affect the well-oiled defending champs and in every aspect the Saints are light years ahead of the Seahawks.

Still, it is the NFL and you never know what can happen, but doubtful it will be this game proving everyone wrong.



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