NFL Playoff Predictions: Previewing the Second Round Games This Weekend
Well, with my 2-2 record on Wild Card Weekend, I will look to improve this week, as things really heat up.
Of course, nobody could predict that the Seahawks would take that game, I did mention that it would be closer than people thought. The Seahawks put together some methodical drives in route to that victory. They have one of the best home field advantages in all of professional sports in my opinion. Tough to win in Seattle, even when you are the defending champs.
As for the Colts game, I almost hit that one on the head. I predicted that the Jets would be trailing and would need a field goal to win the game, but that Sanchez would end up throwing an interception. Instead, he hit Braylon Edwards on a big play near the sideline to set up the game-winning 32-yard field goal for Nick Folk. The game was really exciting all the way through, which is something you can really say for all of the games this past weekend, with the exception of the fourth quarter of the Ravens/Chiefs game.
The Ravens handled their business just like I predicted, because they are probably the best road team in all of football when it comes to the playoffs. Flacco still hasn't won a home playoff game, but that's because they have won all of their games on the road, which is actually even more impressive. The Packers/Eagles game was really a classic. Of course the most accurate kicker in the regular season would miss two huge field goals in that game. Granted, the weather conditions were tough, but clutch players make clutch plays, and he choked, twice. The game was very good, and it was really a coin flip. I wanted to see Vick go into Atlanta for the NFC Championship game, but it just wasn't meant to be this year.
As for this week's games, there are some great match ups. We will kick things off in Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon, and finish up on Sunday evening in New England.
Ravens at Steelers
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This game is a blood bath of two division rivals. Two of the best defenses in the league, featuring some of the best defensive players will take on two dynamic offenses led by strong rushing attacks. Both games during the regular season were great. The quarterbacks will have to keep their eyes in the secondary, as Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed will look to make plays all day. They both have a nose for the ball, and one turnover could lead to six points in a matter of seconds.
I think this game is what most of us imagine in our heads when we think about the NFL Playoffs. Baltimore at Pittsburgh in a cold game filled with monster hits and powerful running backs. While I do consider Baltimore to be the best playoff road team the league has ever seen, I think the Steelers will be able to outlast them in this one. The Ravens looked good in the win at Arrowhead last week, but the Steelers always seem to make the big plays when they matter most.
Ravens 16, Steelers 24
Packers at Falcons
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So Rodgers finally has a playoff win to go with all of his stats. Good for him. Because getting another one is going to be really tough this week. Going into Atlanta on a short week is challenging enough, where the Falcons had the best home record in the league. The weather won't play a factor in this one, as the Falcons are the only team left in the playoffs that don't have an outdoor stadium. That is good news for the Falcons, as they prepare to unleash their offense against the stingy defense of the Packers.
The Packers' weakness all season long had been their ability to run the ball. Now, it appears they have somewhat of a three-headed monster that they will use on Saturday night. They pounded the ball against the Eagles all game long in their win on Sunday, opening up even more room for Rodgers in play-action situations. The defense was also very good for the most part, but the Falcons have an explosive offense that will not be stopped. This one will be another close game, but the home team squeeks by the Packers, where they will host the NFC Championship game next week.
Packers 31, Falcons 34
Seahawks at Bears
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How many people had this playoff match up in the second round of the playoffs before the season began? While these two teams might be the most surprising left in the playoffs, someone is going to win and head to the NFC Championship game. People couldn't believe their eyes when they looked at the scoreboard on Saturday, as Seattle took down the defending champs at home. The defense played well enough, and Hasselbeck was able to hook up with any receiver he wanted.
This game will not be played in Seattle, however. That could be good news for either team really. The Seahawks went into Chicago during the regular season and beat the Bears. Take that for what it's worth, but it is hard to imagine the Seahawks getting two wins in a row, especially against this defense. It will be interesting to watch Jay Cutler in this game; will he be relaxed and able to hit his targets, or will he feel rushed and make poor decisions? That could ultimately determine how this game goes.
In the end, I think the Bears handle their business at home with some big defensive and special teams plays.
Seahawks 13, Bears 27
Jets at Patriots
Ahh, another episode in the life of Rex Ryan. Okay, so he says this game is all about him against Belicheck. That's fine; I'm just tired of hearing him talk. The Patriots will certainly be happy to shut him up, like earlier this season when they embarrassed them on Monday Night Football.
This is a different Jets team, though, and they will definitely not put up the same pathetic performance in this game.
While they didn't look dominating in their win in Indianapolis on Saturday, they made big plays when they needed them. Revis completely shut Reggie Wayne down, as he finished with just one catch for one yard. The problem here is, the Patriots don't have one really good receiver; they have four or five good ones.
The Patriots have an underrated defense, and the Jets struggled at times against a mediocre Colts defense last week. The weather won't play a factor in this one, as both teams are used to playing in the cold conditions. The Jets are going to have to pound away in the running game, while the Patriots will look to air it out with Brady.
Nothing new here; this game will be what every one thinks it will, maybe more. I think it will be fairly even throughout the game, but there is one difference with these two teams. Both have really good defenses, really good coaches, good special teams, and good receivers, but only one of them has an elite quarterback. Brady and the Patriots will invite the Steelers over for a little AFC Championship game next Sunday.
Jets 20, Patriots 30
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Yes, you read that right. I have all of the home teams winning this weekend. Probably won't happen, but it's too difficult to pick out the upset here. If I had to guess, I would say it will come Saturday in the Ravens/Steelers or Packers/Falcons game. I don't see an upset on Sunday (sorry). If all of these games are picked correctly, next weekend we will have the Falcons and Bears in the NFC Championship from Atlanta, and the AFC Championship between the Patriots and Steelers in New England.