New York Jets
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 8:00pm
Lucas Oil Stadium- Indianapolis, IN
In a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game, the much hyped Jets (10-6) take on the Colts (10-6) who are finally somewhat recovering from a regular season spate with injury after injury, leading to their worst regular season in more than a decade. The teams may be the same, but they could not be more different.
From the overhaul of the Jets running game and receiving corps with additions of veterans like LaDanian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes, the Jets were expected to vault into another stratosphere. Instead they had struggles, lucking into wins against bad teams and facing teams with key players missing. The Colts are largely the same but lacking key players due to injuries in the receiving corps.
Despite the injury troubles, a resurgent Colts running game should be the difference maker in this game. Averaging over 140 yards on the ground over the last four games, the Colts will not pass their way over the Jets but run their way over, opening up more room for the Doctor, Peyton Manning to do what he does best: beat Rex Ryan.
Colts 34 Jets 17
Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 9th, 2011 1:00pm
Arrowhead Stadium- Kansas City, MO
It's not a surprise that the Baltimore Ravens (12-4) are where they are, in the playoffs. Indeed many thought that given the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger for four games they would have the upper hand in taking the AFC North crown from the Pittsburgh Steelers and they would be in the hunt. While that didn't quite work out, there they are.
The big surprise comes in the form of the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6), whose AFC West Championship seemingly came from nowhere. A stout running game, timely passing, solid defense, and exceptional special teams helped make the Chiefs that team, the one who surprises everyone, in 2010 and has a bright future.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs in this match up, the future is not now. The Ravens are a bigger, almost scarier team. With an amazing record for a Wild Card team they are a superior team. A better running back, better wide receivers, better quarterback already tip the scales in the favor of the Birds, with the only real potential weakness being the missing brother of noted ball hawk Ed Reed. This will be all Ravens.
Ravens 27 Chiefs 17
New Orleans Saints
Saturday, January 8th, 2011, 4:30pm
Qwest Field- Seattle, WA
Last year the New Orleans Saints (11-5) were able to finally shake their "Lovable Loser" tag and by God win the whole thing with some bayou magic. The reigning champs were able to shake off a lot of injuries to their run game and do what the prior champs didn't do, make the playoffs for the second year in a row. While they are not as strong as they were last year, they are a force to be reckoned with.
They're already looked down on. The Seattle Seahawks (7-9) are the team that basically shrugged their shoulders and said, "Someone has to win it" and gimped in to the playoffs as the NFC West winner and the first team to do so without a winning record. An average offense that rotated quarterbacks and a below average defense somehow allowed the to clinch their division. Good for them.
This game shouldn't even be close. It's such a strong mismatch that even though the Saints are severely lacking in their run game, with only Reggie Bush fully healthy from their run core last season, the Saints should have little trouble in ridding themselves of the problem that is the Seahawks. The crowd at Qwest Field can enjoy it while it lasts because it's highly unlikely that the Seahawks will be much more than a gnat around the Saints ear.
Saints 24 Seahawks 13
Green Bay Packers
Sunday, January 9th, 2011 4:30pm
Lincoln Financial Field- Philadelphia, PA
It's a Green Bay Packers (10-6) team that was heavily favored at the start of the season as Super Bowl favorites. Behind a strong defense and the potential MVP arm of Aaron Rodgers, they were the chic pick to run the table. Unfortunately injuries to the run game and quarterback Rodgers derailed the train during the regular season but allowed the Packers to sneak in as a Wild Card.
It's also been a magical season for Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6), becoming perhaps the ultimate redemption story. This was the year he became more than just a runner but an actual quarterback who could run. After taking over for Kevin Kolb he became a legitimate MVP candidate until recent struggles with interceptions felled his chances. A decent defense backs the other side of the ball for the Eagles.
Perhaps the best and closest game to come out of this Wild Card weekend with both teams evenly matched, it comes down to the most complete team. Over all, the Packers have a more explosive defense. Their run game is weakened and inconsistent but a healthy Aaron Rodgers gives them an edge over a Michael Vick who has shown some weakness in recent weeks. It'll be a close game, but the Packers come out on top for their first post Brett Favre playoff victory.
Packers 27 Eagles 24
Colts over Jets 34-17
Ravens over Chiefs 27-27
Saints over Seahawks 24-13
Packers over Eagles 27-24