I finished out the regular season with a good Week 17, but now the difficult season begins. The playoffs aren’t always as easy to predict as the regular season and we begin with some tough wild card games.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 11-5
This Week: 2-2
Atlanta (11-5) at Arizona (9-7)
Arizona has the benefit of playing at home and not in cold weather, but they’ve been one of the least consistent of all playoff teams down the stretch. While the Falcons still have issues, they’re playing with more momentum than the Cardinals and that helps at this time of the year. I think the Falcons’ run game helps neutralize what Arizona can do offensively and the Falcons steal one on the road.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, Arizona 20
Actual Score: Arizona 30, Atlanta 24
Indianapolis (12-4) at San Diego (8-8)
The Colts are probably the hottest team in the playoffs as they’ve won 9 in a row. The Chargers have also been playing well as of late as they came from behind the Broncos in the AFC West and stormed back to sneak into the playoffs with an 8-8 record. San Diego is the scene of what is probably Peyton Manning’s worst game as a pro when he had 6 interceptions last year. However, I think the MVP will help guide his team to the division round.
Prediction: Indianapolis 23, San Diego 17
Actual Score: San Diego 23, Indianapolis 17
Baltimore (11-5) at Miami (11-5)
These are both teams that had marvelous turnaround seasons in just one year under rookie head coaches. But I think the Ravens’ veteran defense will be a little too much for the Dolphins. The only way Miami can win this game is if they get creative on offense and show something the Ravens haven’t seen or prepared for and if the Dolphins completely shut down the Joe Flacco-led Ravens offense.
Prediction: Baltimore 21, Miami 16
Actual Score: Baltimore 27, Miami 9
Philadelphia (9-6-1) at Minnesota (10-6)
When they found out that they still had a chance to make the playoffs before taking the field last week, they were given added motivation and went out and trounced the Cowboys. The perfect time to be playing your best football is just as you’re entering the playoffs and I think the Eagles’ rejuvenated defense will confuse and confound Tarvaris Jackson and the Eagles will make it a sweep for the road teams in the wild card round.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Minnesota 24
Actual Score: Philadelphia 26, Minnesota 14