Who will hoist the Vince Lombardy trophy this year? First, we need to look at the matchups for Wild Card weekend. On the AFC side, both of the Wild Card teams have beaten the "upper" seed. The Colts beat the Chargers on a last-second field goal, and the Ravens beat the Dolphins handily.
I predict that the Colts prove that last time was not a fluke and annihilate the Champions of the AFC West 35-14. Manning will have four touchdown passes and the Colts will advance to the Divisional round.
The Ravens-Dolphins game will be a better matchup. The Ravens have a great defence, but also have a quarterback who cannot take a sack without fumbling the ball. The Dolphins do not have a week-to-week strategy, and this makes it nearly impossible to plan against them.
True, the Ravens won last time, but the Dolphins will win it where it counts—the playoffs. My prediction: Dolphins 21, Ravens 17.
On the NFC side, none of these teams have played one another. However, the Vikings and the Cardinals play in weaker divisions, which is how they got to the playoffs. Can the arm of Warner and the speed of Peterson win in the playoffs?
My answer? No! Atlanta's defence has been solid against the pass, and the Cardinals' offence relies on the pass heavily. They have given up many yards through the air, but they play in a dome. More importantly, they played Drew Brees and Steve Smith twice each.
Also, remember when the Cardinals were forced to run the ball against New England due to the snow? They got destroyed that game. If Atlanta can control the ball, they should win this game 28-17.
The Vikings won their division. That would be impressive, but they are in the same division as the Lions (0-16) and Packers (6-10). The only other decent team in the NFC North is the Chicago Bears, and they only had one pass for more that 30 yards this season.
Their star player who gets the ball more than any other player—Matt Forte the rookie out of Tulane, had a fantastic season. However, he had no supporting cast, so he did not make the playoffs.
As for the Vikings, they almost lost to David Carr while the Eagles destroyed a desperate Cowboys team. This is not a hard call.
AFC: Titans vs. Colts; Steelers vs. Dolphins
The Titans won the only real game between these teams back in Week Eight. However, the Colts have not lost a game since then. The Titans have success on the ground and the Colts may be without Brackett again.
This will be a very good game, but I predict the Colts winning 28-24 on a successful Two-Minute Drill by Peyton Manning.
The Steelers have a very favorable matchup. Miami will have to travel to the cold to play against one of the best run defences in the league. The Wildcat won't work, so the Steelers should win this one in a landslide.
NFC: Giants vs. Eagles Panthers vs. Falcons
The last time that the Giants and Eagles faced off, it was a huge lift for the Eagles. True, the Giants did not have "Earth" of their "Earth, Wind, and Fire" and they did not have "Air" (Plaxico Burress), but they still won't have Burress. Also, the Eagles have a good run defence, so I predict the 1-6 upset for Philly.
The other match-up will also be a terrific fundamental football game. The Panthers and Falcons are very similar. Great running game, one unbelievable receiver, a hard-working QB and stringent defences. This one will come down to a 50-yard field goal by John Kasay for a Carolina win.
AFC Steelers Vs. Colts; NFC Panthers vs. Eagles
The Colts already beat the Steelers this year. It was a good game that came down to the last possession. Both teams played well, even though Roethlisberger cost his team the game (three interceptions). I predict a similar outcome.
The Colts' D will be ready because the Steelers' D will not let another 28 points go like last time. In Coach Dungy's final visit to Heinz Field, he will be victorious in a defensive game, 10-7.
The Eagles can only win this game on one condition: they keep the ball out of Carolina's hands. If they control the clock, they will win. They have Westbrook ,who will probably get 35-40 touches in this game.
If the Eagle have one turnover or one stupid penalty, then they will lose. Coach Reid is a great coach and his players will not let him down. Eagles 24, Panthers 17.
Colts vs. Eagles
A match-up between two great coaches will be fought out. The Colts will try to keep Manning on the field for as long as possible and the Eagles will try to do the opposite. There will be less than five penalties in this game. Whoever has the ball last will win the game. Adam Vinatieri will win another Super Bowl with his foot. Colts 30, Eagles 28
Joseph L Hasten "King"
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