No Sleep Till Football

Like Brooklyn Except It's Football

Divisional Round – Previews

So last week didn’t workout so well as I went 1-3 in the Wild Card games. Never one to shy away from making predictions that will certainly make me look bad, I’m back for the divisional round games. Hey, at least I picked the Jets to beat the Bengals! Here is how things are going down and my previews for each of the four games.

Divisional Round Games

Saturday: #4 Arizona (11-6) @ #1 New Orleans (13-3)
Saturday: #6 Baltimore (10-7) @ #1 Indianapolis (14-2)
Sunday: #3 Dallas (12-5) @ #2 Minnesota (12-4)

Sunday: #5 New York (10-7) @ #2 San Diego (13-3)

ARI @ NOS: In my defense, I said Arizona would beat Green Bay if the Cardinals came to play to their talent level. Clearly they did that, and although it took an OT to get by the Packers, most were predicting Green Bay to route the injury plagued defending NFC Champions. I don’t think this week is any different. Kurt Warner is one of the truly elite QBs in NFL History and the effort he gave against Green Bay last week was nothing short of miraculous. If Arizona comes to play like that again, then they are going to score points and score them in bunches. The problem however was that Green Bay scored them in bunches too. New Orleans shouldn’t have problems bombing away. There will be an interesting strategic point to this game. Arizona needs a balanced attack while the Saints are a little rough on rush defense. On the other hand, if New Orleans can bomb away to get an early lead, Arizona might be forced to throw the ball all game long which sort of eliminates New Orleans’ biggest defensive weakness. The Saints will also be at home which I think gives them an advantage however slight. If New Orleans does get a big lead, they’ll try to salt the game away with their rushing attack. At this point I’ll take the Saints because they are at home, but again, if Arizona comes to play they might be the best team in the NFC.

BAL @ IND: Probably the worst draw Indianapolis could get outside of having to travel to San Diego at any point during the playoffs. Baltimore looked amazing against the Patriots, and if you believe in the Patriots then you have to think Baltimore might be a pretty special team. The bottom line for me is that I’ve been watching the Colts every weekend since 1994. This is my 16th year as a Colts fan and this is by far and away the best Colts team I’ve ever seen. Ed Reed & Ray Lewis are great great players. Peyton Manning is better. The best thing Baltimore could do would be to have a 1st quarter exactly like they had against New England. Get a big lead and then keep Manning off the field. The problem is that all Indianapolis needs is a couple of stops because the only way Manning doesn’t led the Colts to a score is if Indianapolis isn’t on offense. He’s simply unstoppable, and being in Indianapolis, you get the feeling that Peyton wants it bad this year for some reason. Another interesting point of this game is the status of Joe Flacco’s hip. You don’t really want to have a gimpy QB with Dwight Freeney & Robert Mathis getting solid QB pressure. I really really like this Ravens team, but I’m going to pick Indianapolis to get the win here. I don’t particularly care for Jim Caldwell, but Manning is putting the team on his shoulders. If Baltimore gets out to an early lead then things could get pretty interesting.

DAL @ MIN: You think about the great coaches in the NFL and you come up with Bill Belichick, Jeff Fisher, Andy Reid, Mike Shanahan, & Tom Coughlin and you come to realize that none of them are currently in the playoffs. Then you think about some of the biggest goofs like Norv Turner, Brad Childress & Wade Phillips and realize they are all a win away from playing in the conference championship game. It makes you wonder how important a head coach really is as opposed to the importance of the guy actually putting a talented roster together. Again, I’m not sure how you look at a team like the Cowboys and think they’ll win. I’m biggest Cowboys Homer I know and I can’t justify it. At this point Romo & Phillips are going to have to prove it before anyone will believe it. So they beat Philadelphia? McNabb completely sucks and they had already hammered away at Philly twice during the regular season. They do draw Minnesota, but I’m not sure a win would necessarily validate the Cowboys season or Romo as a playoff QB or Phillips as a playoff coach. The Cowboys are an incredibly talented team, but I’m taking the Vikings here because they are at home and the Cowboys still have Wade Phillips manning the sidelines. It’s that simple. I don’t think the Favre legacy is complete just yet.

NYJ @ SDC: The problem with the Dallas is the same problem San Diego except you substitute Norv Turner’s name instead of Wade Phillips. How can you go with Norv? This might be the most interesting game of the day because it’ll come down to whether or not Mark Sanchez can keep his mojo working. Sanchez has clearly had 3 seasons this year. The first season he came out playing great and people couldn’t believe Pete Carroll actually did think this guy was ready for the NFL. Then Carroll was proven right as Sanchez started to suck royally. Late in the season, Sanchez has turned it back on again and he’s led the Jets to a playoff berth and a playoff win last week in Cincinnati. The Bengals should have never been in the playoffs to begin with, but it was a a solid win nonetheless. The bottom line in this game is that both teams are solid. When Jets HC Rex Ryan said the Jets should be favored all the way to the Super Bowl, he wasn’t that far off although he was a bit misguided in his proclamations that they’d already beaten Indianapolis in Indy. They beat Curtis Painter. Peyton Manning is an entirely different animal. No matter what happens, the Jets have the best defense out on the field and I’m not convinced that San Diego is that great a team. The Chargers should have no troubles beating a Jets team with the Mark Sanchez that struggled in the middle of the season. However, that Mark Sanchez doesn’t seem to be around. I think I’m going to go out on a limb and call for the Jets to get the upset and take down the Chargers. I’m becoming a pretty big Rex Ryan fan and I don’t think it’ll be long before he’s considered one of the elite head coaches in the NFL if he’s not already. The game will depend on Sanchez, but he’s getting it done and I think he’ll limit his mistakes.

Those predictions set up NYJ @ IND and MIN @ NOS for the championship games. Of course my dream Super Bowl would be Colts & Cowboys and that possibility still exits!

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January 16, 2010 - Posted by | NFL Playoffs

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