Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 NFL Divisional Round Predictions

The Eagles were unfortunately eliminated in the first round (again), but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of good football left. If the first round of the playoffs is any indication, we are in for a great couple of weeks of NFL action. Of course, it could also be our last NFL action for a long, long time if they don't get this labor situation figured out.

Despite my poor record in the first round and the fact that the Eagles have been knocked out, I will continue to make my weekly NFL picks throughout the playoffs. Remember, all picks are made strictly based on who I think will win and do not take the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 1-3, .250

Saturday Games:

Ravens @ Steelers
If history shows us anything, expect this to be a hard-fought, low-scoring battle with plenty of big hits. Based on their reputations, both teams are very similar. Both rely on a solid defense and a good but not great offense. Unfortunately for the Ravens, their offense hasn't exactly lived up to their reputation, though they have only allowed 27 total points to the Steelers in two meetings this year. If the Steelers offensive line can give Ben Roethlisberger any kind of protection, he should be able to find Mike Wallace deep and carve up the Ravens secondary. If the Steelers defense can shut down Ray Rice and Joe Flacco is forced to make plays, the Ravens won't be putting many points on the board. While I like the Steelers to win, this will definitely be a close game. My pick: Steelers

Packers @ Falcons
With the emergence of James Starks, the Packers suddenly don't have a weakness. When I picked the Eagles to beat the Pack last week, I assumed that the Birds defense didn't have to respect the run because Green Bay had such a one-dimensional offense. Now, with Starks ripping the Eagles for over a hundred yards and Aaron Rodgers able to pick apart any defense on the planet, the Packers offense looks unstoppable. Of course, there is the possibility that Starks had such a good game against the Eagles defense because they have had major problems stopping the run all year. The Falcons are a better overall team than the Eagles and have very few weaknesses. In fact, I struggle to even come up with anything the Falcons don't do well. They have a balanced offensive attack, an above average defense and they play very well at home. Despite all of that, I'm going to stick with my prediction from last week that the winner of the Packers/Eagles game would be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. My pick: Packers

Sunday Games:

Seahawks @ Bears
Do I have to apologize after saying it was an "absolute joke" that the Seahawks made the playoffs? Absolutely not! Sure, the Seahawks played a great game and knocked out the defending champs, but, as we know in the NFL, any team can beat any other team in any given game. While I will give the Seahawks credit for playing their best football of the season at the right time, I don't think it's going to carry over for another week. The Bears aren't a great football team but their defense is leaps and bounds better than the Saints D and they certainly won't be allowing Matt Hasselbeck to carve them up. If the Packers couldn't score more than 10 points against the Bears in Week 17, what chance do Hasselbeck, Marshawn Lynch and Co. have of putting up big numbers? The only way Seattle wins this game is if Jay Cutler turns back into the turnover machine that he was earlier in the year, which actually has a legitimate chance of happening. This one could be a close game but the Seahawks run ends here. My pick: Bears

Jets @ Patriots
It's hard to have much faith in the Jets after they got drubbed by the Patriots in Week 13. Still, if you look way, way back to Week 2 and ignore the fact that Mark Sanchez has been pretty terrible this season, you can see how the Jets might have a chance in this one. While I expect this game to be much closer than the last time they played, the Pats are simply too good to lose to a team with as many weaknesses as the Jets. The gameplan for the Pats is actually pretty simple in this one: get up by a touchdown early and laugh as the feeble Jets offense tries to fight their way back into the game. My pick: Patriots

Those are my picks for the second round of the NFL Playoffs. Check back every round for my playoff predictions. Feel free to discuss, argue or make your own picks in the comments section!

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