Friday, January 02, 2009

2008 NFL Wildcard Week Predictions

Kicking off tomorrow will be the ever-exciting NFL playoffs. More so than in the past, this year's crop of teams seems to consist of no clear cut favorite on the path to the Super Bowl. Sure the Giants look like they could win it again, or the Titans, or the Steelers, or the Panthers.

Well you get the idea so without further ado I give you my predictions for the 2008 NFL Wildcard Weekend

Saturday, January 3rd
1 PM

Indianapolis Colts (12-4) @ San Diego Chargers (8-8)

Why the Colts Will Win: Indy was 3-4 this year. 3-4! I remember thinking, "Geez. Guess this is the year the Colts are finally off." Not so fast. Like the championship team these guys are they rallied, and man did they rally. Indy will win this game because of Peyton Manning. Manning just threw for his ninth consecutive 4,000 yard season. That does not bode well for a San Diego D that has been up and down this season. Did I mention that Colts' D? There's a reason Indy finished 12-4 aside from Mr. Manning. The D is bringing the heat. Phillip Rivers will have his hands full.

Why the Chargers Will Win: So what that they are 8-8. They got into the playoffs and frankly that's all that matters. The past four weeks the Chargers have gained something they did not have for most of the season. Their swagger. The confidence Phillip Rivers will be playing with, plus a home game at Qualcomm Stadium will be enough for this energized SD team to pull of the upset.

Final Prediction: The Colts will win this game not because LT and Gates are banged up, but rather the fact that the San Diego defense is just not suited to stop Peyton Manning. So you have a four game winning streak? Big whoop. Peyton Manning will lead a late drive to get his team a tough victory in San Diego.

31-28 Colts

Saturday, January 3rd
4:30 PM

Atlanta Falcons (11-5) @ Arizona Cardinals (9-7)

Why the Falcons Will Win: Power running game. Matt Ryan has had a stellar year at QB, but honestly his best game will not be needed Saturday. Reason? Michael Turner. Turner will rip through a porous Arizona defensive line. As soon as Turner gets going, Ryan will be able to pull of some play actions to keep the defense checking and in turn land Atlanta an easy victory.

Why the Cardinals Will Win: Chip on their shoulder. The only way the Cardinals beat a solid Atlanta team is if Arizona comes out angry, mad, upset, you name it. Cardinals have been the butt of every joke (aside from the Lions). The Cardinals are a better team than we have all been a victim of seeing in the past month. Quarterback Kurt Warner knows his time as an NFL starting QB is running out. This could be his last shot to work some magic.

Final Prediction: We would all like to believe that Arizona wakes up and plays. Sorry, not today. Atlanta will run the ball right down Arizona's throat. Oh, and that Atlanta D will get an early interception. Warner will lead somewhat of a rally, but sadly the consistency of Matt Ryan will smash any chance of a victory.

41-27 Falcons

Sunday, January 4th
1 PM

Baltimore Ravens (11-5) @ Miami Dolphins (11-5)

Why the Ravens Will Win: Big Ben had to drive 92 yards to beat the Ravens right at the end. If that doesn't happen you very well could be looking at a Baltimore team that is the second-seeded team in the AFC. But as we know Pitt scored, Baltimore lost. Point being? Baltimore is a legit contender, more importantly there defense is incredible. As they say, "defenses travel well." Even on the road I still expect the Baltimore D to be too stifling for an over-anxious Miami team. A recipe for a victory for Baltimore is: play defense, cause turnovers, and get that running game going. Miami quarterback Chad Pennington has had his comebacks this year, but not Sunday.

Why the Dolphins Will Win: Yes, Baltimore has a great defense, but what about Miami? Dolphins have snuck under the radar with their tenacious D. But the real factor in a Miami win is the fact this team has a) won multiple games right at the end and b) the team is thrilled to be in the postseason. Let me evaluate on part B. Sometimes a team is so pumped to get in the spotlight that the players play lights out right from the get-go. Coach Tony Sparano has had Miami doing that all year. No reason to think it will stop.

Final Prediction: The Miami feel-good story will be coming to a close. Again, Baltimore was thisclose to having a first round bye. This team is hungry and will do just enough in the turnover category to move to the next round.

17-10 Ravens

Sunday, January 4th
4:30 PM

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

Why the Eagles Will Win: The Eagles got into the playoffs in a manner that is nothing short of a miracle. First, Tampa Bay lost to Oakland then Chicago lost to Houston, but to top it off Philly beat Dallas. And man did they beat Dallas. Philly will win this game because McNabb and the offense are playing as good as anyone out there. Unless they are going out against a D like the Ravens you can pretty much be assured McNabb and Co. will be putting points up. Furthermore, the Minnesota QB situation may have gotten Minnesota a playoff spot, but it sure as heck is not going to win you a game. Look, Gus Ferotte and Tavaris Jackson are decent, not great. Great QBs are needed to win playoff games.

(Ron Jaworski was right maybe that tie would come in handy. It was enough to earn them a playoff spot.)

Why the Vikings Will Win: Adrian Peterson is nothing short of spectacular. Big time players such as him step up in big time games. This will be his coming out party. Once Peterson gets going, that will open up whoever is under center for Minnesota to throw the ball down field. Last week Philly won 44-6 because let's face it everything went right! Minnesota will be ready for that. And did I mention that Minnesota does have a defense as well? Jared Allen was brought into Minnesota to terrorize guys like McNabb in games like this. He'll be a huge difference maker.

Final Prediction: I was never overly impressed with what Minnesota did this year, but there were games where I did see Philly and I was overly impressed (Week 3, Week 17). Philly can put up points, I just don't think Minnesota can do the same. Look everyone knows Peterson is getting the ball A LOT. So now Jackson or Ferotte will need to win the game? Don't see it happening.

27-17 Eagles

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