There are some nuances to the NFL playoffs this season; new teams, new predictions, and new outlooks on playoff scenarios.
For starters, Rex Ryan and the New York Jets managed to slide into a wild card position a couple weeks before the regular season ended. A relieved Ryan exclaimed to the New York media, "We are in!" Of course Ryan being the talkative person he is, had to later add that he would be taking the Jets to and winning a Super Bowl. Let's hope for his sake, he doesn't wind up eating his own words for the second year in a row.
A sort of surprise, well--not surprise--new face, in the playoff picture out of Missouri: The Kansas City Chiefs enter with a regular season 10-6 record to go along with their first division title in years!
Other than the Chiefs making the playoffs and the usual banter coming from the loquaciously, at times outspoken Rex Ryan, the remaining teams earning a playoff berth aren't as surprising...oh yeah, how could I forget? The 7-9 Seattle Seahawks! A lot of fans are upset with this how shall we say--abomination of a team from a seriously weak division making the playoffs...can we get serious? Fans of other teams have been recently speaking of re-aligning the divisions to spite the 'Hawks, and it sounds like a lot of sour grapes if you ask me.
Seattle is still an NFL team and it beat it's final opponent, the St. Louis Rams, fair and square. In the end, there has to be a representative team from every division. And out of every team in the NFC West, Seattle has been as strong if not stronger than the Rams all season long.
Okay, so that covers it. Rex Ryan's "Did he just say that?" prediction, the Chiefs making it into the playoffs and winning their division for the first time in what some might term eons, and the Seahawks "stealing" a playoff berth from a more deserving team...Which team, I don't know considering the other three teams in the West aren't as deserving record-wise.
Let's have a look at the four games on this Wild Card Weekend!
To kickoff Wild Card Weekend, we will see the New Orleans Saints pay a visit to Qwest Field and the Seattle Seahawks...Yes, the Seattle Seahawks you fought their way into the playoffs with an NFL-worst record of 7-9! But I don't harbor ill feelings toward the 'Hawks. I'll make that clear. In fact, I might actually buy into what Seattle is selling.
This is going to be a tough game for Seattle, even with New Orleans missing a few key players on offense. This could be a factor that helps Seattle keep Drew Brees and the Saints a little more honest, but they will still have their work cut out for them.
Playing against New Orleans too, is they haven't won a road playoff game...in a long time, if ever.
I'm really hoping for a close and exciting game. If the loss of a few key pieces by New Orleans means the game is going to play out that way, then I say the Seahawks have an equal shot at possibly beating the Saints and moving to the next round. Add in the raucous "12th Man" that is the fanatics dressed in Pacific Blue and neon lime green, and it makes for a long day for a visiting team. However, the Saints are used to the noise offered by "Who Dat Nation" in the Big Easy.
If the Seahawks manage a win, it will be by three points. If the Saints bring the pain, New Orleans could win by at least 10 points.
I am hoping for something of an upset, but logic tells me to go with New Orleans.
Saints by seven.
Green Bay @ Philadelphia, and Baltimore @ Kansas City will be posted here on Saturday!
Hang in there, Part Two of this two-part series will be available Saturday evening, right around kickoff of the 4:30 game between New Orleans and Seattle. Also, on the last slide of tomorrow's preview and prediction, I will also be submitting a special edition into the article, which will be available to read next weekend!