I had a terrible week of predictions in the wild card round as I finished 0-4. I don’t feel bad for two reasons. First, I heard it was a bad week for many analysts out there. Second, as a Bears fan, two of my least favorite teams — the Packers and Patriots — were ousted from the playoffs. If the Vikings can lose this week, it will be an enjoyable playoffs for me the rest of the way.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 0-4
This Week: 1-3
Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at New Orleans Saints (13-3)
I was impressed with the Cardinals’ offense and their ability to be so efficient while putting up big points against the Packers’ No. 2 defense. But Arizona’s defense wasn’t very good and that could give them some difficulty against the Saints’ high-powered offense. Of all four games this weekend, I feel like the Cardinals are the road team with the best chance at an upset because the Saints didn’t finish the season well. But, I think they’ve had some time to rest and correct some things which should help.
Prediction: New Orleans 34, Arizona 27
Actual Score: New Orleans 45, Arizona 14
Baltimore Ravens (10-7) at Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
The Colts, like the Saints, are another team that didn’t finish the season too well but it’s because they chose to rest and get healthy for the playoffs rather than try to build momentum for the postseason. If they lose, it’ll be their own fault and I’ll laugh heartily. Indianapolis had the No. 24 run defense in the regular season so they could struggle against Baltimore’s potent run game. I’m tentatively going with the upset here.
Prediction: Baltimore 27, Indianapolis 24
Actual Score: Indianapolis 20, Baltimore 3
Dallas Cowboys (12-5) at Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
The Cowboys are perhaps the NFL’s hottest team. They play great defense, they have a terrific duo of running backs, and Tony Romo seems to have found his groove after struggling earlier this season. The Vikings, meanwhile, picked the wrong time to go into a funk as they had a miserable month of December. The week off had to have helped their older players rest and get ready for this game, but I think Dallas has too much momentum.
Prediction: Dallas 24, Minnesota 20
Actual Score: Minnesota 34, Dallas 3
New York Jets (10-7) at San Diego Chargers (13-3)
Playing great defense and running the football well is the surest path to success in the NFL. It’s no wonder the Jets have gotten this far with a bad rookie quarterback. The Jets had the No. 1 defense and the No. 1 run game in the regular season which was why they were able to overcome the deficiencies of Mark Sanchez. However, I think a long road trip against the red hot Chargers is too much for them.
Prediction: San Diego 30, New York Jets 17
Actual Score: New York Jets 17, San Diego 14