NFL Playoff Predictions 2011: Sunday's Divisional Games Picks and Previews

Kate ConroySenior Analyst IIJanuary 15, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets attempts to escape the pass rush of Jermaine Cunningham #96 of the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Picking only one of the four NFL Wild Card game winners last weekend coincides lock, stock and barrel with how the regular season played out...Completely unpredictable.
Fans, reporters and even ESPN couldn’t be sure of anything week to week. It was like watching Jekyll and Hyde football, and it has continued right into the playoffs.
So this week I am taking a different approach, not with the previews but with my predictions. Normally, logical stats, knowledge and history would be used to guess the winners. Since my Wild Card picks bombed, this weekend I will flip a coin to determine my choice.
Maybe it is a magic penny; guess we will know shortly, so let’s get to the game previews for this Sunday’s match-ups:
HEADS: Chicago Bears, New England Patriots.
TAILS: Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets.
                                                                                                                 Sunday January 16, 2011 (ET)

Seattle Seahawks v. Chicago Bears (1pm FOX)
The Bears, like everyone else, were expecting to see the reigning Superbowl Champion Saints in Chicago this weekend—that is until the Seahawks proved they could to win.
Instead of falling at the mercy of the mighty champs as most teams with a 7-9 record would, the Seahawks were almost flawless.
This was a Hawks team that nobody could believe were in the playoffs in the first place. The problem for the Saints was that the Seahawks have faith in themselves. The Seahawks were down 10-0 and 17-7 in the first half, but they fought back.
Seattle’s QB Matt Hasselback surely didn’t play like the leader that had an under .500 season, going 272 yards and throwing four touchdowns. He and RB Marshawn Lynch will have to be superb once again, with zero margins for error against a lethal Bears defense.
The Seahawks' defense can lose this game if they don’t step it up against Bears QB Jay Cutler. Giving up 400 yards will not win the underdogs another game, and in the playoffs it shouldn’t anyway.
Jay Cutler can be rattled into throwing bad pass routes right into opponent’s hands and he is not known to fight back when he’s down. Cutler plays the blame game on everyone except himself; but he knows in the playoffs egos get checked at the door. Still, the Seahawks defense has to blitz and be aggressive.
Statistically and logically this game favors the Bears over the Seahawks on every level. Also, the Bears are coming off a bye week, well rested and for a game at home in Chicago.
The question remains whether the Seahawks believe this, because last week they sure didn’t think they shouldn’t have been exactly where they won...The Playoffs.
And the COIN says:  Tails...Seahawks win.

Never underestimate the underdogs, as a New York Giants fan I can promise you that if they believe, they will achieve.


New York Jets v. New England Patriots (4:30pm CBS)

The Patriots finished the regular season atop the NFL, with a record of 14-2. What makes this Patriot team so lethal is with each passing week they have vastly improved, by eliminating weak areas by becoming diverse in their strengths.

Tom Brady’s accuracy has been as close to perfection as humanly possible, and the youth of the franchise are being molded by a football mastermind in Coach Belichick.

The Jets' defense is their strong suit, but they have to be flawless in order for the team to survive.

QB Mark Sanchez is way overrated; the Pats are aware of this, so relying too much on the running game won’t get points on the board for the Jets. Sanchez can’t throw short passes to save his life, so the smart thing would be to run forms of the wildcat.

Sanchez should throw a few deep, one or two times because chances are 50/50 that someone in green can catch it.
Everyone is so sick of listening to Ryan’s mouth, so hopefully the Pats can shove a foot in it on Sunday. I think everyone is pretty sick of the "WORLD ACCORDING TO REX," and winning will only make it worse.
And the COIN says:  Heads...Patriots win.

Ahhh, my permanent headache is gone, as Rex Ryan will finally be forced to shut-up.