NFL Playoffs: Winners, Losers, and Speed Bumps

Justin MorganCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2008

Week 17 in the NFL was a good one, as many of the games had playoff implications. The Vikings, Eagles, Dolphins, Chargers, and Ravens all got in after wins on Sunday. Meanwhile, losses for the Jets, Broncos, Cowboys, Bears, and Bucs have them on an early vacation.

Next weekend we will see if any of these teams has what it takes to be a factor in this year's playoffs, or whether they will all just be speed bumps for the big boys that all have bye weeks in the first round.

Let's start off in the NFC. The No. 5 seed Falcons travel to Arizona to take on the No. 4-seeded Cardinals. No one knows how rookie Matt Ryan will handle the pressure of the playoffs. Lucky for him, he has a good running back in Michael Turner.

The Cardinals played pretty well in the beginning of season, getting a lot of talk for Kurt Warner for MVP. However, they have struggled recently, giving up 35+ points in two of their last three games.

As much as I'd like to see Kurt Warner make a longer run at it, the run stops here. I'm going to give the win to Atlanta, 34-28.

The other NFC Wild Card matchup is up in Minnesota, where the No. 3-seeded Vikings will host the No. 6 seed Eagles. They will be missing Pro Bowl DT Pat Williams (injury), so expect Pro Bowler Kevin Williams to see more pressure. The Eagles swear that they run a balanced offense, so let's see if they can exploit the hampered D-line of the Vikings.

The Eagles have been playing good football since Donovan McNabb was benched in the second half against Baltimore. I expect them to keep rolling, 28-16.

Over in the AFC, we start out with the No. 5 seed Colts traveling to San Diego to take on the No. 4-seeded Chargers. The Colts won a regular season matchup after a last second field goal and are on a nine-game win streak. Many people now see Peyton Manning as the front runner for the MVP award.

The Colts are playing as good as anyone in the league, while the Chargers are the best team in the lowly AFC West. Colts 42-27.

The No. 6 seed Ravens travel to Miami to take on the No.3-seeded Dolphins in a rematch of week seven, when the Ravens won 27-13. The key for me in this game is turnovers. In a low scoring game, which this will be, turnovers are key.

If Miami can be successful at mixing in some of their Wildcat offense, they should be able to win this game. Look for Joe Flacco to struggle a bit in his first postseason action. I'm going to take the Dolphins 16-13.

Check back next week for divisional playoff matchups!