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NFL Playoff Predictions: From the Wild Card To the Super Bowl

Jon HerrmannCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Running back Marion Barber #24 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled at the goal line by Brandon Siler #59 of the San Diego Chargers at Cowboys Stadium on December 13, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The season is over, and the playoff seeding is set.  The road to the Super Bowl begins Saturday, with a weekend of week 17 rematches.  

WILD CARD ROUND:

Cin. vs. NYJ

The weekend begins on Saturday at 4:30 pm eastern time with Cincinnati hosting the New York Jets.  The Jets beat the Bengals about as bad as one NFL team can beat another on Sunday with a 37-0 rout in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 

Carson Palmer completed only one pass and threw a pick in a game where he was sat down early.  They may have also lost Chad Ochocinco to a knee injury.

Maybe it's just me, but I can't picture this happening again.  The Jets have been wildly inconsistent all year long.  Cincy will play Cedric Benson, and the game will be very different.  I don't trust Sanchez in this big game.

Cincinnati wins a close game, 17-13.

Dal. vs. Phil.

Dallas beat Philly 24-0 in weeks 17 to earn the NFC East title and earn the right to host the Eagles just a week later.

The Cowboys are the only NFC team entering the playoffs with 3 straight wins, the last two of which were shutouts.

Dallas owns the match-up this year, adding a close win at Lincoln Financial to their shutout in week 17.  The Eagles won't lose the way they did Sunday again, and many believe it is hard to beat a team three times in a season.

That being said, Dallas still wins this game.  The Eagles offensive line showed that it is far too banged up to stand up the the Cowboys pass rush, and Felix Jones gave them a lot of trouble.

There is no way that Dallas shuts out the Eagles again, but Dallas wins 21-10.

NWE vs. Bal.

New England has done enough this year to earn the number three seed in the AFC and host Baltimore in the only game of the wild card weekend that is not a week 17 rematch. 

The one question to ask going into this game is whether anyone trusts the Patriots without Wes Welker. 

Baltimore is not the team they have been in the past on the defensive side, but with Ed Reed helping the corners take care of Randy Moss, and no running game to really brag about, It seems that Baltimore has the advantage.

Baltimore lost to New England in a close 27-21 game in week four. 

The scores the same in this one, but Baltimore comes out on top, 27-21.

Ari. vs. GNB

Green Bay demolished the Cardinals in a game that Kurt Warner sat for much of the duration.

This game really meant nothing.  Matt Leinart is not Kurt Warner.  Green Bay's defense didn't go up against the offensive unit that led the Cardinals into the Super Bowl last year.

While this game didn't tell us a lot about the Cardinals, it did do one thing to hurt their playoff chances.  Anquan Boldin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game because of injury.

If Boldin and Rodgers-Cromartie aren't 100 percent, then they have no chance.

This is the way I'm leaning.  Packers take care of business, 31-10.

DIVISIONAL ROUND:

SD vs. Cin.

Cincinnati has exceeded the expectations of everyone by making it to this point, but he Chargers are just too good to lose here as they are the hottest team in the NFL winning their last 11 games.

The Bengals lost a close 27-24 game to the Chargers in week 15, and they lose again here.

In the first match-up Rivers threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, but also had two picks.  Rivers doesn't turn it over twice in this game, and the score shows it.

Chargers win 30-20.

Min. vs. Dal.

Dallas' defense was great down the stretch, Minnesota's was just okay.  If you believe the old saying that, "defense wins championships," then Dallas gets a win here. 

The Vikings offensive line was troubled greatly by the pass rush of the Carolina Panthers in week 15 and the Chicago Bears in week 16.  The Cowboys can pressure a quarterback as good as anyone in the league.

With Peterson struggling down the stretch, look for the Cowboys to key the pass and get the Favre a few times.

Dallas wins this one 17-13.

Ind. vs. Bal.

Baltimore managed to get by the Patriots in the Wild Card Round, but they can't possibly overcome the Colts can they?

Lets look at the last time the Colts rested their starters like they have this year.

In the 2005 season, the Colts were 13-1 and decided to pull Manning early in the last two games.  They finished the season with a 14-2 record and lost their first playoff game to the 11-5 Steelers by a score of 21-18. 

I'm fine with resting your players late, but the Colts seem to rest them a little too much.  When the Colts take the field, it will have been a month since their players played a full game.

Baltimore lost 17-15 ealier this season in a very close game.  This time Baltimore takes care of business, Ravens win 24-14.

NO vs. GNB

No team has ever lost their last three games and won a Super Bowl.  This year is no exception.  The Saints just fell apart down the stretch, including a loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Green Bay, on the other hand, finished the season strong.  Aaron Rodgers leads an offense what does not turn the ball over, while Charles Woodson leads a defense that likes to take the ball away.

The Packers are playing better right now than the Saints are, and they win this one in a game that just isn't that close.

Packers win 38-17.

Championship Round

SD vs. Bal.

Yes, San Diego lost to Baltimore in week two, but the Chargers finished the season with eleven straight wins.

Ray Rice has been great all year on offense, but so has Phillip Rivers.  I expect this one to be an offensive battle.

Phillip Rivers threw for 436 yards in their first match-up this year, and he leads the Charges to the Super Bowl with a 31-27 win in this one.

Dal. vs. GNB

Dallas and Green Bay met in week 10 at Lambeau and Green Bay won 17-7.

In that game Romo threw one TD and one INT, and they had trouble running the ball.  The Packer sacked Romo five times in that game.

This time, however, the game is in Dallas.  The Cowboys offensive line won't let their QB get hit like that again.  Both Rodgers and Romo are playing great down the stretch.

The difference maker in this game could be Felix Jones.  Since getting healthy, Jones has helped solidify the Dallas running game.  Grant hasn't been consistent against good defensive units at the end of the year, and there lies the key.

Dallas not only wins a playoff game this year, they advance to the biggest stage in football, the Super Bowl.  Dallas wins 27-24.

Super Bowl XLIV

San Diego Charges vs. Dallas Cowboys

These teams met in week 14 where Dallas lost 20-17.  

Both quarterbacks played well,Romo threw two touchdowns compared to the Rivers one.  Rivers also threw an interception while Romo did not.  Rivers, however, completed a higher percentage of his passes for more yards than Romo.

Dallas out rushed the Chargers by 35 yards and 1.6 yards per carry.

Vincent Jackson out gained Miles Austin by nearly fifty yards in the air, but Austin caught a touchdown pass where Jackson did not.

Antonio Gates and Jason Witten both caught four passes for over 40 yards, but Gates was the only one who scored.

Dallas won the turnover battle, and both teams sacked the quarterback once.

Where San Diego won the game, was in their kicking game.  Nate Kaeding hit both of his two field goals while Nick Folk, who is no longer a Cowboy, missed one of his two.

So who wins this one.  Almost too close to call.  Expect a very close, very well played game by both team.  Dallas overcomes their kicking woes, winning 20-17.

Enjoy the NFL Playoffs.  May the Best team win.

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