Wow, it HAS been a while, hasn’t it? Anyhoo, Happy New Year to this teeny tiny following here, and I hope that your holidays have been good. Writing from India, obviously great blogging time has been intermittent. (Thus the dearth of power rankings) Of course, there will be posts covering that adventure forthcoming.
However, there is the business at hand, the wild card round and the four matches. With time a wastin before my flight tonight, time to get some wrong picks out there. This way if I am wrong, I have to be accountable – I did not attend Tom Coughlin’s school of blame shifting.
New Orleans Saints (-10.5) at Seattle Seahawks: It is hard for this to not offend my sensibility. The Seahawks of Pete Carroll, by virtue of their location in the truly execrable NFC West, rode a 7-9 record to a home game against the Saints. The Saints are considerable still, though lacking the creds of last year, in particular a decimated running back corps. The defense has been less turnover strong than a year ago. But come on! Even with home field, the Seabags were one of the league’s worst most of the season, and they were debating QBs for the game. The only question is if the Saints cover. Saints 34, Seahawks 17
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5): Rematch of last year’s AFC title game. The Jets are better, the Colts are worse. Now, the Jets have issues running consistently, while Mark Sanchez is beat up at quarterback. The defense is strong though. However the blitz heavy defense is made to order for Peyton Manning if his line can block. And they’ll have to with their injuries at skill positions and their near total inability to run. Peyton can make any prognosticator look bad, but the Jets have to be smarter in their defense this season, especially with a stronger cornerback tandem. Few points but Jets 20, Colts 14
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5): Rematch of week 1, but this might as well not be. That Eagle team thought Kevin Kolb would be starting. Instead we have the force of nature that is Mike Vick back in the playoffs for the first time in 6 seasons. The Eagles are the most dynamic offense in the league with unmatched big play ability from both passing and running avenues. The Packers have a big play defense and their own force of nature in Aaron Rodgers quarterbacking, but a line that gives him little help, and a total inability to run the football. The Eagles defense makes plays but gives points up, while their return and kicking game require no explanation. Anyway, this is clearly the best game of the weekend. The Eagles do just enough. Eagles 31, Packers 28
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Kansas City Chiefs: The playoffs are back in Kansas City, which is neat. And this team is in line with what the 90s Martyball teams would love – running hard, passing smart, strong defense. Baltimore clearly is an elite team, especially when they keep the offense focused around Ray Rice like they did in their win over the Saints in Week 15. The defense gets the ink, but they have given up big ground games to opponents much of the year. In a lot of ways this is an offense driven Raven team between Flacco, Rice and their depth at receiver. Baltimore scares me as a Patriots fan but they have to advance first, and the Chiefs might be the wrong matchup. This is no fun without calling a surprise. Chiefs 23, Ravens 20