Saturday, January 16, 2010

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

New York Jets @ San Diego Chargers

Thoughts: As much as I want to pick the Jets, and as much as I want to see them win, I see the buck stopping here for the Jets. I see the Chargers 'secondary' weapons being the reason they win the game. By secondary, I'm talking about guys like Darren Sproles, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee and others. I don't see the Jets letting Philip Rivers throwing to Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates beat them, so they will force the hands of the complimentary players, and they'll rise to the occasion. While I expect the Jets to hold the Chargers below their offensive averages, and play well, I expect the Jets offense to falter a bit. While they played well last week, there is more that points to that being a fluke than it being a sign. The Jets have a lot of positives for the near and distant future to build on, but the 2009 buck stops in California, as Rivers and company move on to the AFC Championship Game.

PREDICTION: Chargers 27 Jets 17

Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts

Thoughts: I'm hearing a lot of love for Baltimore this week, and rightfully so. They are a very good team. They can run the ball, play defense and they have a QB who's not going to hurt them. That being said, I like Peyton Manning and the Colts here, but the game will be a close one. I think the game will come down to Joe Flacco eventually having to make plays to lead his team, and I don't see that happening. Though I think the Colts defense is very suspect, I've seen very little that makes Joe Flacco reliable in a game where he has to win it on his arm. That is what I think he will have to do, as the Colts will do everything in their power to stop the Ravens strong rushing attack. The Ravens fall a bit short, Manning and the Colts move on to the AFC Title game.

Prediction: Colts 31 Ravens 20

Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings

Thoughts: Dallas is coming in riding a wave of momentum, and these teams are polar opposites when it comes to their respective season ends. Minnesota finished losing 2 out of 3, and Dallas has won 4 straight. Minnesota has struggled in making Carolina and Chicago's offenses look like world beaters. The Cowboys defense is dominating, and in that four game winning streak, they kept the Saints to 17, they shut out the Eagles, and Redskins, and held the Eagles in check last week. The Cowboys pass rush has become fearsome with Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware, and Jay Ratliff leading the way. I think Minnesota's pass blocking is a bit suspect, which Favre covers up for with his excellent pocket presence, and quick release. I think when you combine the pass rush with the secondary play, you'll have a vintage Brett Favre playoff performance. That means, expect to see a backbreaking interception in there somewhere. I think Tony Romo is more trustworthy in this spot, given Favre's history, and his play this year has been superb. Romo has silenced a lot of critics along the way and I expect them to be like a public library after this game. I like Dallas.

Prediction: Cowboys 34 Vikings 27

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints

Thoughts: I hope the scoreboard operator(s) has plenty of light bulbs. This one is going to be high scoring. I could see either one of these teams winning the game, but it's hard to get a read on the Saints right now. They limped into the gate, losing two out of their last three, and before that really hadn't played all that well. That being said, they still have Drew Brees, they still have that offense, and if last week is any indication, defense to the Arizona Cardinals is clearly optional. Kurt Warner is one of the best postseason Quarterbacks ever, and I don't see this game taking anything away from his numbers as he is going against a very suspect New Orleans defense. I see this one being very "Madden-esque". It's a toss up but I'll go with New Orleans at home.

Prediction: Saints 45 Cardinals 38

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