First Round AFC and NFC Matchups in The 2008 NFL Playoffs

Melissa FalicaContributor IDecember 29, 2008

After a weekend of some of the most crucial games of the season, the NFL playoff schedule has finally been determined.

Not only will this year’s playoffs consist of the best teams in football, but it will also consist of some of the most surprising teams. The Miami Dolphins, with new head coach Tony Sparano, have shocked all football fans with their playoff birth after last year’s disappointing 1-15 season.

Both the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens, who similar to the Dolphins had poor 2007 seasons, also made it to playoffs with the help of their rookie quarterbacks.

The first round of this year’s postseason consists of exciting games that can go in favor of any of the teams. 

Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers

After entering December with a 4-8 record, the Chargers have come back with four straight wins to not only lock-down a postseason spot, but also become one of the hottest teams in the AFC. Peyton Manning and the Colts have had more than one great comeback win this season, and have slowly become the dominant team we remember.

It is going to be interesting to see whether the Colts can continue their dominance against a Charger’s team that has become explosive within the past few weeks. And remember, the Chargers beat the Colts in last year’s AFC Division Round.

Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have one of the top rated offenses in the league and have three offensive Pro Bowlers in Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin; but over the last few weeks, the team has not possessed the same edge that they had through the first 10 weeks of the season. Overall, the Falcons have been a consistent team and a significant threat to all other teams in the NFC South with rookie star Matt Ryan, the explosive Michael Turner, and Roddy White.

If the Cardinals team plays as it did through the middle of the season and shows its offensive power, this will be one tough game for the Falcons defense; if they do not, there is a good chance that the Falcons can run away with this game. 

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

The Baltimore Ravens defense is one of the most powerful in the league, but their offense…not so much. The Ravens offense has been consistent over the course of the year, but has not been all that threatening. On the other hand, Chad Pennington has the second best passer rating in the league and the Dolphins’ Wildcat formation and mix of plays tend to confuse opponents.

If the Ravens defense lives up to its reputation in this round, it sure is going to be hard for Pennington and the rest of the Miami offense to get past them. If Miami’s offense is held back, that gives quarterback Joe Flacco the opportunity to take over and possibly make some big plays.

Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

After getting off to a slow start, the Vikings managed to slide past the Bears with a 20-19 victory over the Giants to clinch the NFC North. The Eagles are also coming off of a huge win over the Dallas Cowboys to clinch the last Wild Card spot in the NFC and have been one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL as of lately.

It is going to be a tough match for Tarvaris Jackson and the Vikings. The Minnesota defense is going to be up against an excellent and red-hot Philadelphia offense. If the Eagles carry the dominance they had against Dallas into this first round match, Minnesota is going to need a huge defensive performance, or it might end up as another blow-out.

The first round of this year’s playoffs hold equal opportunity for all teams involved.

There will be wins that were expected, along with some upsets that were not. Regardless, one thing is for sure, and that is the fact that it will be yet another week of great football.