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Saturday, January 15, 2011

NFL Playoffs- Divisional Round Predictions

It was a solid Wild Card weekend with close games and a massive upset (and myself going 2-2), but now it's time for the big boys to play.  The #1 and #2 seeded playoff teams in the AFC and NFC finally get to take the field to prove their meddle while the Wild Card winners (including two #6's) get to play on for their playoff lives.  It's on to the Divisional Round!





The AFC



Pittsburgh Steelers








vs.

Baltimore Ravens








Saturday, January 15th, 2011 4:30pm

Heinz Field- Pittsburgh, PA












The Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) enter the playoffs as one of the more experienced teams, perhaps only second to the New England Patriots, and the team with the most recent success of all of the remaining teams having won the Super Bowl two seasons ago.  Majority of the principle cast has returned and look to make it three championships in the past six years.

The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) hate the Pittsburgh Steelers and vice versa.  They had their Super Bowl dreams dashed by the Steelers two years ago and meet again in the tournament to try to exact some revenge and get one step closer to their first Super Bowl in over a decade.  By record they were every bit as good as the Steelers in the regular season and aim to prove it now.

Injuries are perhaps the largest question mark of the two teams, most of which fall on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the form of their difference maker Troy Polamalu.  Polamalu being in the game is huge for Steelers but Joe Flacco is 2-5 lifetime vs. Steelers. Only two W's against backup QBs Denis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Ben Roethlisberger is simply better and the difference in the teams and will show it again tonight.

Steelers 24 Ravens 17















New England Patriots 
vs.

New York Jets

Sunday, January 16th, 4:30pm

Gillette Stadium- Foxboro, MA














Another year, another trip to the post season for the New England Patriots (14-2) who have missed all but one year in the past... well... a lot.  Three Super Bowl titles and another trip made them the team of last decade.  Potential NFL MVP Tom Brady and Bill Belichick look to sustain their well known dominance into the next decade and look to start their trip here against the well known division rival Jets.
The New York Jets (11-5) are very familiar with their foe, having split the season series with them for the second year in a row.  For Rex Ryan it's two trips to the playoffs in a row since taking over the New York Jets helm on the back of stellar defense.  Mark Sanchez in his second year has elevated his game but still have some things to prove.  Is this his coming out party?

The last meeting between the two teams on a Monday night saw the Patriots embarrass the Jets 45-3, making their entire team look sub par.  This time around it will be different.  The Jets game plan will be stronger making for a closer game but in the end Mark Sanchez proves he's not quite ready.

Patriots 27 Jets 20



















The NFC

Atlanta Falcons







vs.

Green Bay Packers








Saturday, January 15th, 2011 8:00pm

The Georgia Dome- Atlanta, GA













This is an Atlanta Falcons (13-3) team that came out of nowhere to pile up the best record in the NFC.  They were looked at as a playoff team by many coming into the season but few in any expected such a break out year from Roddy White behind the arm of Matt Ryan, boosted by the legs of Michael Turner.  They are complimented by a solid but not flashy defense which does everything really well.

After the Green Bay Packers (10-6) narrowly escaped a solid Eagles team they looked to be a team on the move.  Aaron Rodgers had finally gotten the proverbial playoff monkey off of his back and they'd seemed to have gained a running game.  That was against an Eagles team that had some holes.  How will they do against a well built all around football team?

It's a meeting of what is likely the two best teams in the NFC.  It includes an MVP caliber quarterback who has proven his meddle in Aaron Rodgers and the other team which brings to the table the most solid all around team in the NFC, or perhaps the league.  It's going to be a tight game and eventually individual talent triumphs in the form of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Packers 23 Falcons 20 in OT














Chicago Bears







vs.

Seattle Seahawks







Sunday, January 16th, 2011 1:00pm

Soldier Field- Chicago, IL














The Chicago Bears (11-5) shook off early season injuries to important members of their team such as quarterback Jay Cutler to take the NFC North from their rival Green Bay Packers.  A stout defense backstops the Bears to their home field advantage and #2 playoff position while Cutler and running back Matt Forte provide the points.

The Seattle Seahawks (7-9) proved they were no fluke last week in handling the reigning champion New Orleans Saints, dropping 41 points on a New Orleans defense that was considered a strength.  They made believers out of some but not all.  They come in as under dogs and for a good reason: they're still not all that great.

The Bears are a solidly built team that should have little problem handling the Seahawks and their decent attack on both sides of the ball.  They are extremely potent on all three sides of the ball (offense, defense, special teams) and the Seahawks will eventually break under the superior all around talent of the new Monsters of the Midway.

Bears 23 Seahawks 14












RECAP:

Steelers 24 Ravens 17
Patriots 27 Jets 20
Packers 23 Falcons 20/OT
Bears 23 Seahawks 14

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