Repeated commercials remind me (not that I needed it) that this weeked is Wild Card weekend in the NFL.
After last weekend, I expect the games this week to be anything but predictable. Still, I’m going to make some (underinformed) predictions. As you may have noticed from my lack of NFL related posts, I haven’t been paying huge amounts of attention to the NFL, or any other sports, these days. So I find myself not really knowing anything about a great many of the teams that made the playoffs.
Prior to last week, I hadn’t seen many of this week’s participants play. Don’t worry, in a league like the NFL, sometimes it’s better to not have enough information.
Predictions below the fold.
Atlanta @ Arizona
Arizona is one of those teams that I haven’t seen play this season. Hell, I don’t think I’ve seen them since that Monday night meltdown against Chicago a few years ago. Still, I know they have some excellent recievers, and a QB. From what I understand, the QB himself doesn’t matter, the recievers are so good… ok, maybe not, but the QB is a former NFL and Super Bowl MVP, so he can’t be that bad. Still, after my post below, I’d be remiss to not mention that their defense would still struggle if they played with 12 men.
Against an Atlanta team that can run the ball better than nearly every other team, had a good young quarterback, and a defensive line that can pressure QB, the Cardinals will be facing a pretty tough opponent. Oh yeah… and the Falcons have a better record in a much tougher division.
Atlanta 31 – Arizona 14
Indianapolis @ San Diego
Haven’t seen Indy play either, but it sounds like Manning is having a phenomonal yet somehow underrated season. According to John Clayton, he’s playing defense through ball control. They have had the fewest possesions, yet still ranked 13th in points scored. That seems ridiculously efficient, to me.
Still, that means his defense isn’t very good, and it’ll be facing the highest scoring offense in the AFC. Yet, San Diego’s defense isn’t what it once was, and is susceptible to the big play.
Interestingly, a giving up big plays may be to San Diego’s advantage, allowing them to control the ball, and wear the Indy defense down.
Bottom line, I really don’t know what to make of this game, but it should be highly entertaining. I figure that Norv Turner will find a way to lose the game, though.
Indianapolis 38 – San Diego 35
Baltimore @ Miami
Amazingly, Baltimore’s defense is still among the league’s best, filled with playmakers. And now, after “QB guru” Brian Billick is let go, they have more than a caretaker, “don’t mess up” quarterback. On the flip side, Miami’s defense is no slouch, but is vulnerable.
Miami’s offense has moments of unpredictability, and two very strong runners, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. Pennington won’t be able to challenge the Ravens secondary enough to keep Ed Reed from roaming around making huge plays, and Ray Lewis is still fast enough to corral the Dolphins running game.
Baltimore 21 – Miami 10
Philadelphia @ Minnesota
I watched a little of the Philly game last week, but Dave tells me it was something of an abberation. I guess the real question is whether they are just peaking, or it was a fluke? McNabb is still mobile enough to frustrate the Vikings pass rush, but I’m not sure how many mismatches the Eagles will find downfield.
For the Vikings, this game will fall on the shoulders of Tavaris Jackson. Adrian Peterson is phenomonal, but without Jackson to create some space, Philly will be able to contain him and put the Vikings in those 3rd and long situations the Eagles D feeds on.
Philadelphia 24 – Minnesota 14