Wow what a great wild card weekend of football. Nobody had the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints and being the only home team to win last weekend. The Jets, Ravens, and Packers all went on the road and left victorious. As a result some exceptional matchups are upon us this weekend. Will the road teams continue to have astonishing success, will the Seahawks continue their surprise run, and which divisional grudge matchup will turn out to be a spectacular gridiorn battle. Let’s break down the four big games.
The biggest game of the week by far is the matchup between bitter rivals the New England Patriots and New York Jets. In week two The Jets defeated New England 28-14 at home. However that was a very different New England team than the one that finished the season with the best record in the NFL. In week 13 on Monday Night Football with all of North America watching the Patriots demolished, embarrassed, and crushed the Jets 45-3 at home. Ever since then the Jets have been playing with an extra grudge on their shoulder. Jets head coach Rex Ryan has made it his personal mission to defeat the heavily favoured Patriots on route to a Jets Super Bowl victory. A lot of trash talking has come from the Jets compound in New Jersey this week, and the biggest, and brashest team in the NFL is more than confident that New England will go home empty handed this season. But will the Jets be able to back up their mouths on the field this Sunday, probably not. On the other side the Patriots are led by the greatest football coach ever. Coach Bill Belichick has led the Patriots to 3 Super Bowls since he took over in 2000. Belichick is the genius behind the football in New England. The Patriots have too many weapons for the Jets to be able to handle. New England can throw three different tight ends on the field. The Patriots can also use targets such as Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Brandon Tate, and Julian Edelman. If New England wants to run the ball they have just as many weapons with Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Sammy Morris, and Fred Taylor. Oh did I mention that the soon to be NFL MVP also plays for New England in future hall of famer Tom Brady. The Jets simply cannot compete on the same level that New England is at. The Patriots will win this game and continue to march on to the Super Bowl in Dallas. Prediction Patriots 31 – Jets 20
The Baltimore Ravens had the biggest margin of victory during last weekends wild card games. With a 30-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs the Ravens will continue to play on the road this postseason with a matchup against their big divisional rival the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers and Ravens both finished with 12-4 records, with Pittsburgh winning the tie breaker and earning an opening week of rest. In week 3 at Pittsburgh the Ravens defeated Steelers minus Ben Roethlisberger 17-14 thanks to a last minute Joe Flacco touchdown pass to receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh. In week 13 the Steelers went in to Baltimore and beat the Ravens 13-10 thanks to a tremendous game by safety Troy Polamalu. This will be a low scoring game at Heinz Field and you can bet your house that both teams defense will be ready to stop the other teams run, and passing game. With both teams having outstanding players on the defensive end the game will come down to which quarterback makes the least amount of mistakes. Baltimore is the underdog and has the weaker quarterback, but their team played last week and is in a football mindset. The Steelers will come out slow and the bye week will hurt their game play. An upset is in the forecast thanks to Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and Jameel McClain. Prediction Steelers 13 – Ravens 16
The best team in the NFC takes to the field this Saturday night in Atlanta. The 13-3 Falcons host the surprising Green Bay Packers who went in to Philadelphia last Sunday and knocked off the Michael Vick led Eagles. The Packers didn’t put up as many points as some people thought they might last Sunday but Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers 3 touchdown passes proved to be enough to escape Philadelphia with a win. Eagles kicker David Akers also helped the Packers win. Atlanta and Green Bay met in week 12 at the Georgia Dome with the Falcons winning 20-17. Falcons kicker Matt Bryant nailed the win for Atlanta with a 9 second left field goal from 47 yards out. Either team could have won the game and both teams have a great shot at making it to the Super Bowl if they can win on Saturday. The Green Bay Packers defense will be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan will be running for his life with Clay Matthew, AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop on the prowl to sack him. If Atlanta can’t run the ball with Michael Turner, Matt Ryan will have to be Matty Icy at his best to out smart Charles Woodson and the other Packers defensive backs. Aaron Rodgers will also have to hope James Jones and other Packers receivers don’t drop as many passes as they did last Sunday if Green Bay is to win. An offensive surprise that is in Green Bay’s favour is the surprise performance by running back James Starks. Starks came out of nowhere to run for 123 yards on 23 attempts last week. If Green Bay can get a fraction of that on Saturday they should be rolling to an NFC Championship game. Prediction Falcons 24 – Packers 27
The least exciting matchup this weekend is the game at Solider Field between the surprising Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears. The Bears won the NFC North with a 11-5 record. One of those losses came at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks who went into Chicago and defeated the Bears 23-20 in week 6. The Bears have an outstanding run defense led by Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, and Israel Idonije. As a result new Seattle Seahawks hero Marshawn Lynch will have a tough time running for anything come Sunday at noon. The options in the air don’t look promising for Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck is an interception machine the Bears should be able to force the Seahawks signal caller to turn the ball over like Hasselbeck has done throughout the season. When the Bears have the ball running back Matt Forte should be the one causing all the damage to the Seahawks defense. You can count on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to find Matt Forte throughout the game in the air and on the ground. Wide Receiver Johnny Knox should also have a big game on Sunday. The Bears are clearly the better team and this will show on Sunday. Prediction Bears 35 – Seahawks 20