2010 NFL Wild Card Weekend
SAINTS (11-5) AT SEAHAWKS (7-9)
Flying across the country to play the Seahawks in Seattle has always been fairly daunting, but this is a Seahawks team that lost at home this year by 16, 18 and 34 points to teams that finished 10-6 or better. The Saints may be the second best team in the NFC bracket and I don’t foresee the Seahawks giving them too much trouble. It’s a quarterback-driven league and Drew Brees brings his Super Bowl ring out west, Pete Carrol has to decide whether to start an injured Matt Hasselbeck or a timid Charlie Whitehurst who had trouble against a 7-9 Rams team last week.
Saints 28, Seahawks 13
JETS (11-5) AT COLTS (10-6)
A rematch of 2009’s AFC championship, but nothing is really the same. The Jets had a dominant defense and run game with little passing prowess last year, and now their defense and running game are less intimidating, but they’ve added more outside weapons and Mark Sanchez has shown improvement in ball security and decision making. They will still need to get pressure on Manning, something I think might be hard for the Jets to execute. Indianapolis still has Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne, but are missing a lot of pieces that killed the Jets last year. Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon will be blanketed by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, so for the Colts to win, guys like Jacob Tamme and Blair White need to have big games. With Peyton Manning throwing to them, it’s distinctly possible.
Jets 23, Colts 21
RAVENS (12-4) AT CHIEFS (10-6)
The Ravens are a better team, but it’s hard not to like the Chiefs playing at home in January. Their only home loss this year came against the Raiders in Week 17, after Kansas City had already clinched the AFC West. Matt Cassel has been one of the league’s most improved players, and if he continues to take care of the ball and feed the running game, they’ve got a great chance. But the Ravens have played a much harder gauntlet than KC, and looked better doing it. If Baltimore can get Ray Rice heavily involved in both the running and passing games, they should open things up for Flacco when KC keys on stopping Rice.
Ravens 20, Chiefs 10
PACKERS (10-6) AT EAGLES (10-6)
If the NFL seeded playoff teams according to record, every Wild Card game would change location. That the Packers made it this far with no running game and devastating injuries along the way is a testament to how good Aaron Rodgers is. The Eagles feature one of the most exciting offenses in the league, but the defense is young, undisciplined and frankly, not very good. Mike Vick is going to have to outgun Rodgers and the Pack to win this game, and I think Green Bay does enough to limit him and his playmakers. While I’d love to see the Eagles win this week and next to set up a potential trip to Atlanta, I think the Packers offense will overwhelm and underwhelming Philadelphia defense.
Packers 34, Eagles 24