The NFL Playoffs are great. This time of year is great. Right as college football starts to wind down, Wild Card weekend gets the blood pumping again. Lets take a look at some things to focus on this weekend.
Ravens v. Patriots
I love this matchup. Joe Flacco goes the entire season as being just so average. Flacco was 12th in passing yards, 18th in yards per game and 23rd for passer rating. But when the playoff come around Flacco becomes untouchable. He is 10-4 in the playoffs and hasn’t lost in the postseason since 2012. He almost has a 3 to 1 TD to INT ratio in the playoffs and his last interception in the postseason came in 2011. (Note: didn’t make the post-season in 2013)
Similarly, there is this guy named Tom Brady that likes the playoffs as well.
The Ravens knocked off a beat up Steelers team but I really like Baltimore in this matchup. What I will be watching for is the turnover battle. Whoever takes away the ball first will win. As clutch as both of these QB are I am going to say Ravens D coordinator Dean Pees (great name) will have a plan to trip up the Patriots’ postseason success.
Baltimore knocks out the Patriots at Gillette.
Panthers v. Seahawks
I wish I had something exciting to say about this game. The only reason the Panthers are here is because 1). The Falcons are awful and 2) The Cardinals would have had a better chance of winning if they started me at QB (I didn’t throw a pick this year at my Thanksgiving game!) The Seahawks are going to blow this team out. Don’t be fooled by the numbers that the Panthers’ defense put against the Cardinals.
Seattle wins big.
Cowboys v. Packers
This is the matchup that I am having the hardest time picking. Both teams do certain aspects so well. Dallas and DeMarco Murray can run the ball like no other; second in NFL for rushing yards. The Packers and Jordy Nelson light up the air like no other; second in NFL for average yards per pass.
Both defenses are middle of the NFL (Packers 15th in total defense and Cowboys were 19th) which makes this game hard to predict.
It looks like it’s going to be cold as hell in Green Bay (it’s currently 0 degrees there and it feels like -17).
If the Cowboys run the ball well start to finish and control the clock they have a shot. If they try and go throw for throw with Aaron Rodgers I don’t believe it will end well for the Cowboys.
Please note that Dez Bryant is a beast. I’ll take the Packers just because they’re at home.
Colts v. Broncos
This is a matchup that the NFL and network producers dream about. Peyton Manning, the Canton bound quarterback facing off against his successor in Indianapolis Andrew Luck.
As much as that’s a storyline, I don’t believe that’s the key to the game. It will be important for both signal callers to play well, but it comes down to the Denver defensive line. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will need to get in the backfield and get after Luck early and often. The Broncos D had 41 sacks during the regular season putting them in a tie for 9th in the league and the Colts offensive line has given up only 29 sacks ranking them 8th in the NFL.
The Colts are first for passing yards per game (305.9 YPG) but this is partly due to no run game. If Luck has time to throw down field then Denver might be in trouble even with their stellar secondary. Indy had 78 plays go for 20 plus yards this season which was best in the NFL.
This also depends on if TY Hilton wants to concentrate long enough to catch the balls thrown at him. He had seven drops on the year which doesn’t sound bad but he was top 10 in the NFL in that category.
In a nut shell, this is the game. Will the Colts be able to keep Luck up right long enough to get the ball down field, or will the Broncos defensive line thwart the passing game.
My bet is on the Colts offensive line.