Friday, January 15, 2010

Divisional Round Playoff Predictions

I ask and answer two questions about this weekend's Divisional Playoff Round...

Which first seed gets knocked off? 
     It's an odd thing that both first seeds enter the post season on a losing streak. The difference is that the Colts chose to do so. Though this conservative move was meant to prepare the team for the post season, I believe it hurts them here. The Colts have rested for too long, four weeks to be precise. They will enter a little rusty against a very physical and juiced up Ravens team. In order to pull the upset, Baltimore will have to be a little less one dimensional against the Colts than they were against the Pats. In New England, Joe Flacco only completed 4 of 10 passes for 32 yards. He's more than capable of doing better and will have to against the Colts. If the Ravens are physical enough and avoid the penalties that have hindered them all season, they should be able to manhandle the rested and rusty Colts.
     On the other hand, the Saints only rested their starters for the final regular season game. Though they lost two games in which they were actually trying, they still kept them close. They've proved throughout the season that they have more than enough offensive firepower to keep up with Kurt Warner's Cardinals. They've also shown that they have a threatening defense which Arizona lacks. A three game losing streak does not change these facts. The Saints also have something to prove this year. When I watched New Orleans decimate the Patriots I saw plenty of signs saying, "All I want for Christmas is a Super Bowl". My friend just came back from New Orleans and said he's never seen a city so excited about a football team. Ultimately, I believe the emotional New Orleans team and crowd become too much for the Cardinals and they let the game get away from them.

Ravens over Colts- 22 -14
Saints over Cardinals- 28-13 

Which late season surprise proves it's worth?
     The Cowboys and Jets both entered the post season seeming to just find themselves. After Dallas dispensed of New Orleans at home they never looked back. Tony Romo looks great. The Dallas defense, dominant. There are virtually no holes to be seen in this team. Minnesota seems to be losing its touch just as the Cowboys are finding it. While the Cowboys twice defeated a Philly team that a lot of people had picked as Super Bowl bound, Minnesota lost its first seed bid in a loss to the shoddy Bears.
     The Jets were essentially let into the post season by the Colts. They then dispensed of the Bengals twice in a row and looked great doing it. However, though the Jets no.1 defense deserves some credit, so do a lot of bad throws and dropped balls by the Bengals. While the Bengals proved to be a bad team after all, the Chargers are probably the best team in the NFL right now. They have won 10 straight games against tough opponents including Philly, Denver, and Dallas. The Chargers should be more than capable of handling Rex Ryan's gamble blitzes as their offensive line ranked in the top ten in giving up the fewest sacks and QB hits. To make matters worse for New York, the Chargers are also the fourth best scoring offense. The efficiency of Philip Rivers and the explosiveness of Darren Sproles will be too much for the Jets and they will prove to be just as average as their 9-7 record.

Cowboys over Minnesota- 21-10
Chargers over Jets- 28-10

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