The Giants season ended a lot like their last Super bowl defense. This time, no one literally shot themselves, but with missed opportunities to lock up a playoff spot earlier in the year (8-5 after week 14), it certainly feels like the team collectively “shot itself in the foot”. The Bears also fall into this category; oh well, better luck next year guys.
It is almost funny going onto ESPN today, as almost every story is about a head coach, GM, or coordinator who was fired from a NFL team that struggled this year. Not at all surprising, but an insight into just how unforgiving an industry professional sports can be.
Congrats to the L.A. Clippers, who went 16-0 this month and have won 17 straight games! The combination of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin has been dominant, and depth in the form of role players such as Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, and Lamar Odom (just to name a few) have the Clippers poised to make a deep playoff run. Despite the highly publicized signing of Dwight Howard by the Lakers, it appears the Clippers are now the team to beat in L.A. This is a true “changing of the guard”, as the Lakers have been the big brother in L.A. as long as I can remember.
Back to the NFL, Let’s do a little Wild Card breakdown:
Colts v Ravens:
This will be an interesting game; a high powered offense versus one of the game’s best defenses. Can rookie Andrew Luck continue his meteoric rise to NFL stardom? Will Ray Lewis be effective when activated from injury, or perhaps even more effective after a long break (he is old; the injury could have been a blessing in disguise keeping him fresh). The match-up to watch here is how the Colt’s defense plays against the Ravens offense. If they can keep Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, and Torrey Smith in check, I like their chances. Andrew Luck won’t become the first rookie to make it to the Super bowl, but his season does not end next weekend either.
Predicted Winner: Colts (I may just be thinking wishfully, but who doesn’t want to see Peyton v. Luck in the playoffs?)
Bengals v. Texans:
The Bengals have a high powered offense, but little to fear after that. The Texans have one of the most complete teams in the NFL; a solid QB, an All-Pro RB and WR, and a defender in J.J. Watt who strikes fear in the hearts of NFL QBs. I got the Texans in this one all the way, possibly by a large margin.
Predicted Winner: Texans
Seahawks v. Redskins:
This has got to be the first time two rookie QBs have faced off in an NFL playoff game, right? RGIII has been nothing short of amazing since week one of the season, beating Drew Brees at home. Russell Wilson has had more of a traditional rookie season, but eventually got it together and tied Peyton Manning’s rookie TD record with 26. RGIII is the better QB, but the Seahawks are the better team in every other aspect of the game (particularly on defense; the Seahawks are one of the league’s best, the Redskins one of the worst). I’m calling this one for the Seahawks.
Predicted Winner: Seahawks
Vikings v. Packers:
Fun, fun, fun, a rivalry game in the playoffs (so is Ravens-Colts I suppose). A week 17 rematch, I expect different results this time around. Adrian Peterson has been unstoppable this year; coming off a knee injury and a slow start, “All Day” AP finished only 9 yards shy of Erik Dickerson’s single season rushing record. This though should keep AP warm during an otherwise cold post-season, as the Christian Ponder lead Vikings will not beat Aaron Rodgers and the gang for the second time in two weeks. This one will probably be a shootout, as neither team has a great defense, which favors the Packers who can move the ball more effectively through the air. The “cheese-heads” have legitimate Super bowl aspirations, and must first knock off the surging Vikings to get there.
Predicted Winner: Packers
There are my NFL Wildcard predictions, we’ll have to tune-in next weekend to see what actually happens.