Round 2 of the playoffs start this Saturday with a full head of steam, and enough headlines to keep any reader dizzy and steeped in pure speculation. But the real question is what exactly will happen this weekend, and why?
Just about every fan whose team is still alive is waxing idealism as to why their team will win, and why the competition “doesn’t stand a chance.”
Par for the course.
So with that said, let’s take a more in-depth look at each matchup, along with some all-too-familiar predictions as to what you should expect from the divisional round of competition.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
The second meeting between the Pack and the Falcons finds one team (Atlanta) favored by unchanged play, while the other (Green Bay) vastly changed from their first meeting.
Atlanta is exceptionally balanced on both sides of the ball, and took advantage of the Packers’ poor tackling along with the Packers' inability to utilize the few opportunities the Falcons afforded them…don’t expect the same situation in Round 2.
Atlanta will have to do more than run the table on advantageous situations if they are to beat the Packers for a second straight time. But the Packers must find a way to stop Michael Turner if they are to remove the Falcons’ penchant for controlling the clock.
If the Packers can play more fundamentally while keeping their level of defensive aggression, this game should be an easy contest for Green Bay believe it or not, but if they find themselves playing into the hands of Atlanta head coach Mike Smith (2-0 vs. the Packers) they could be sent "packing" for good.
Prediction: Green Bay 27, Atlanta 17
Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears
The Seahawks did the impossible (seemingly impossible at the time anyway) by beating the Bears 23-20 in the first go-round. But how they beat the Bears should show itself to be a one-time deal.
The Seahawks beat the Bears with extensive blitz packages, and relying on the fact that QB Jay Cutler wasn’t picking up the open man in the passing lanes, as well as the fact that the Bears were not running the ball as much as perhaps they should have been.
Since then, the Bears have given much more time towards RB Matt Forte running the ball, and QB Jay Cutler has vastly improved upon picking up the short man in the lane when receiving additional pressure on the blitz.
The only X-factor here is the fact that Cutler is a newbie in playoff experience, and not having such experience can turn a great team into a mediocre team at best.
Pete Carroll will remain defensively aggressive towards the Bears offense as he basically forces them to “prove” they can win in a playoff environment, but keep in mind—the Seahawks are with their own collection of youth as well.
Prediction: Chicago 17, Seattle 14
This has been a presentation of the NFC matchups, so for a look at the AFC please click here.