Before I give this week's picks, I have to say, I'm pretty satisfied with my preseason predictions. In fact, I actually picked nine of the 12 playoff teams correctly.
In the AFC, I picked five out of the six teams that made it into the playoffs. The one pick I missed was the Bengals; instead, I had the Titans getting in.
In the NFC, I predicted four out the six eventual playoff teams; the two teams I missed were the Vikings and Cowboys. The two teams I misfired with were the Giants and Falcons.
This week's wild-card matchups feature some of the most unique and bizarre scheduling anomalies to ever happen. Only 11 times in the history of the NFL have the same two teams that played in the final week of the season played each other again in the first round of the playoffs.
So, it's rather unprecedented for three of the four games this weekend to be direct rematches from last week . In fact, even that fourth game is a rematch between the Patriots and Ravens from Week Four.
In spite of all the reruns on the wild-card schedule, I think the games are going to play out quite differently than the first installments.
In Cincinnati, I believe the game against the Jets is going to be much closer than it was when they played in New York in Week 17 .
The Bengals didn't go all-out last time, but I still think the Jets are going to come out ahead, because the only real threat on the Bengals offense is Chad Ochocinco, and Darrelle Revis was able to shut him down.
Plus, Cincinnati has lost three out of their last four games, and their offense has looked bad doing it. If New York can minimize Mark Sanchez's mistakes by running the ball and playing solid defense, they'll get another win against Cincinnati.
In the Cowboys-Eagles matchup, just about everything in the world points to a third strike for Philadelphia. Not only did the Eagles get swept by the Cowboys during the regular season, but their offense was completely out of sync in both games.
Since Philly's defense has been pretty average at best all season long, that doesn't really bode well for them. Basically, they've been winning by scoring almost thirty points a game and getting a couple key plays on defense. Neither one of those things has happened in either game against Dallas this year.
However, the one thing the Eagles do have on their side is history. Andy Reid is 7-0 in the opening round of the playoffs. Plus, as everyone knows, the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996.
So, I'm following the trends and going with the Eagles in a close game. Admittedly, though, this is by far my shakiest pick of the week.
In New England, I think the Patriots just have a little too much for the Ravens. Baltimore was less than impressive down the stretch, and is one of the weaker teams in the playoffs.
Of course, the big question is how much the loss of Wes Welker will cost the Patriots. I think not having Welker will hurt their chances of getting to the Super Bowl (which weren't too great in the first place), but they have enough weapons on offense to beat the Ravens without him.
Finally, in the Arizona-Green Bay game, I think everybody is putting way too much emphasis on the Packers' blowout of the Cardinals last week.
The truth is that Arizona didn't play several of their key starters, whereas Green Bay still had their starters in well into the third quarter, even though they had a comfortable lead.
Being that the Packers were beating up on the Cardinals' JV team, I just don't buy all the talk of the Arizona players being psychologically damaged by the game.
Everybody is picking the Packers as the "hot" team because they won seven of their last eight games. However when you actually look at who they played, the only good team they beat was Dallas, and that was back when they weren't playing very well.
This is one game I could see going either way, but I like the Cardinals to pull it out at home.
My Picks for the 2010 Wild Card Playoff Games
Sat, Jan. 9
1:30 PM (PST)
2:30 PM (MST)
3:30 PM (CST)
4:30 PM (EST)
Against the Spread
New York Jets
New York Jets
New York Jets
|Sat, Jan. 9 |
6:00 PM (MST)
7:00 PM (CST)
8:00 PM (EST)
|Sun, Jan 10 |
10:00 AM (PST)
11:00 AM (MST)
12:00 PM (CST)
1:00 PM (EST)
|Sun, Jan 10 ||1:40 PM (PST) ||2:40 PM (MST) ||3:40 PM (CST) ||4:40 PM (PST) |