Fearless First-Round NFL Playoff Predictions...Saturday Edition

Brian PeoplisCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2010

Well, it certainly has been a long time since I've ventured here to write something of value, but now that I have a bunch of free time before my LAST SEMESTER OF COLLEGE, I will once again grace you with my thoughts.

The NFL playoffs are upon us, which is equally exciting and depressing. Exciting because, well, it's the playoffs, and who doesn't get jacked up to watch truly meaningful games?

It's depressing because once February passes, it's up to the NBA, NHL, and MLB to carry us through spring, which can get pretty ugly (try getting excited about a TNT double- header featuring powerhouse teams like Golden State vs. Sacramento).

But let's take this time to focus on what really matters, the aforementioned NFL playoffs. Week 17 wrapped up yesterday, and the playoff matchups are set. Let's dive in to Saturday's matchups!

NY Jets vs. Cincinnati (Sat. 3:30 CST)

If you watched this game last night, you know that Cincy might as well have just forfeited. It's unfortunate that fans are being forced to put up with these two lackluster teams again, but I guess that's just how the wild card matchups turn out sometimes.

The Jets have shown some fire the past few weeks, and they managed enough fortitude to grab the last playoff spot. I think the defense is playing great, the run game is gaining momentum, and Rex Ryan even busted out the surprisingly effective Wildcat formation last night.

However, Mark Sanchez has been putting up numbers that I'm pretty sure I could accomplish if given the chance (grand total of 63 yards passing last night). But I suppose it didn't really matter, given that they stomped Cincy 37-0.

I don't quite know what to make of the Bengals this year. They started the season hot, then essentially gained a division championship because the rest of the teams in the AFC North forgot how to win games.

I don't expect last night's game to be anything like what will take place Saturday. Cedric Benson is coming back to the starting lineup, and the Bengals have at least shown that despite their anemic passing offense, they can pound the football and take big chunks off the clock.

Within the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium, I think Cincy takes it in a close, grinding battle.

Final Score prediction: Bengals 20, Jets 13

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sat. 7:00 CST)

I'll spare you the statistical garbage of saying something like, "When was the last time two teams faced each other in the last week of the regular season only to play again the following week in the playoffs?" We all know it's happening three times this weekend, and we all don't give a damn.

That being said, this game is eerily similar to the Cincy/NYJ game. Philly came out flat yesterday and got absolutely dominated at Dallas. I still think Philly is the better team, but after yesterday's listless effort, I don't know what exactly to think anymore.

Dallas is a pretty sexy pick amongst national sportswriters to win the NFC, but I'm not buying it. Everyone is making a big deal about how Dallas is "getting hot at the right time."

Really? Hmmm, would you call "getting hot" beating the Redskins 7-6 in week 11? Or wait, how about losing to the Giants 31-24 in week 13? Oh wait, they must be talking about the Dallas loss at home to San Diego in week 14?

Dallas won their last three games, and one of those wins was against the Redskins, who should seriously be relegated to the CFL.Β  Therefore, all this "getting hot" talk is a bunch of crap.

Philly is the better team, hands down. They have receivers who actually try to make big plays (I'm looking at you Roy Williams). Plus their defense, despite laying an egg yesterday, is better than Dallas' and has more playoff experience.

Another thing you have to consider is the fact that Dallas swept the regular season series against Philly. History has shown that it's extremely difficult to beat a team three times in one season, and I don't expect things to change here.

Final score prediction: Eagles 31, Cowboys 14


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