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NFL Divisional Playoff Prognostications

By Dave Bruning

The opening week of the NFL playoffs has come and gone. Last year’s Super Bowl participants, the Saints and the Colts, were unceremoniously eliminated, highlighting once again how wide open the NFL playoffs can be and how difficult it is to defend a Super Bowl title. I was 2-2 in my predictions last week, but more importantly, 3-1 against the spread. Let’s move forward and look at this weekend’s games through the crystal ball that is my brain.

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh

This is a grudge match between fierce division rivals that are literally mirror images of themselves. These teams arguably have the best rivalry in the NFL. The game will be filled with animosity, hard-hitting, smack-talking intensity reminiscent of two great boxers going toe to toe for 15 rounds. In the end only one will remain standing. I like Baltimore to emerge victorious in another classic game. I think the Ravens are peaking at the right time, while Pittsburgh has never quite fully found its rhythm after Ben Roethlisberger returned from his 4-game suspension to start the season. Baltimore lands the final punch and grinds out a 20-17 victory.

New York Jets @ New England

This is another grudge match between division rivals. The intensity here has been wrapped up in the verbal sparring leading up to the game. Antonio Cromartie of Jets started things with a profanity-filled tirade aimed at Tom Brady. Wes Welker of the Patriots returned the banter beautifully with a witty twist on Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s foot fetish. These teams do not like each other. Tom Brady and Bill Belichik have had 2 weeks to rest and get ready for the Jets. This does not bode well for the Jets. They were blown out 45-3 in their last appearance in Foxboro. It won’t be quite as bad this time, but the Patriots move on 31-17 behind Brady.

Green Bay @ Atlanta

This is the game I am most looking forward to watching. I am a huge fan of Aaron Rodgers. He carried the Packers on his back to the playoffs. Green Bay has suddenly found a running game behind rookie James Starks and their defense looks better every game. They are starting to look like a team of destiny ready to place the final eff you on the disaster of a season that Brett Favre has had. The Georgia Dome has proven to be a difficult place to play. Matt Ryan is 20-2 in his career there. All the pressure is on Atlanta. Young teams tend to struggle when placed in this position. I like Rodgers to have a huge game and lead the Packers to a 31-24 victory.

Seattle @ Chicago

Nobody thought the Seahawks would be here. Now they are a sexy pick to pull another upset. I don’t see it happening. The Bears certainly don’t impress me, but they always seem to do enough to beat inferior teams. Chicago’s defense is significantly better than New Orleans. They create turnovers as regularly as they make big plays on special teams. Despite an earlier victory this season in Chicago, Seattle is nowhere near as good on the road. Jay Cutler is playing in his first playoff game. I don’t expect anything overly impressive, just enough to win an ugly 23-14 game.

posted 1/14/2011

2 comments:

  1. Whelp, we agree most of the way, except I like Pitt bucking the trend ad beating Baltimore by more than the the point spread. Nice article and great hire by Denver in John Fox.

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  2. Great article and I agree Denver got a winner in Fox. Packers to roll to the Super Bowl, Chicago chokes in this one and Lovie takes the fall a week later. I agree on the Pats but Flaco doesn't have what it takes yet to beat the Steelers.

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