There’s nothing like starting my divisional playoff predictions with a Kylie Minogue song reference, but ‘I can’t get the Cardinals out of my head’ and as long as Kurt Waner hasn’t been concussed and is lying in a heap on the Superdome floor I smell an upset.
I got three out of the four Wild Card games right last week, with my only mistake being predicting an Eagles win against the Cowboys. I have to admit the only reason I went with Philly was because they were my pre-season Superbowl prediction, and I didn’t want to be a hypocrite.
Well now its time to dust down the Mystic Meg costume and sprinkle so prediction powder on the 2009-2010 NFL Divisional Playoff round;
NFC – Cardinals @ Saints
If you thought you saw an unforgettable fireworks display last week in the desert, this could be bigger, better faster and even higher scoring (seriously). Bizarrely this game will not come down to the quality of the QBs or WRs, it will come down to the team that has the most convincing running game. Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush versus Tim Hightower and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. Momentum is a funny thing and the Cardinals will have it in bucket loads after their electric game last week, whereas the Saints looked awful after they lost their unbeaten record to the Cowboys (and yes I know the Saints were playing scrubs Week 17). Both teams have dominant All-Pro safeties in the form of Adrian Wilson and Darren Sharper, but both team CBs (as a unit) are not the best in the league. Providing the Cardinals offensive line keeps up the work rate then they have the ability to push Arizona into a 2nd NFC championship in a row.
Prediction – Cardinals 38-33 Saints – Game MVP Kurt Warner 307 yards passing 3 touchdowns.
NFC – Cowboys @ Vikings
I have even having to type the word Favre, seeing as he should have retired in the last decade, but here I am again talking about Mr Wrangler. The Vikings and the Cowboys match up pretty well, and I have to say this is going to be the biggest game of the weekend, with two star studded squads that can boast remarkable offensive lines, excellent quarterbacks, and defensive studs – exemplified by the Cowboys DeMarcus Ware and the Vikings mullet wearing nut job Jared Allen. Both teams have receivers that have had bonanza breakout seasons (Miles Austin and Sidney Rice), and both have some depth and ability to change the gears with their running games. Now the romantics will want Brett to take his weapons to the NFC Championship but I have Dallas showing why they are no longer a team to be laughed at when it comes to the business end of the season. That and the fact Felix Jones is just about the only human being I know that could keep pace with Chris Johnson in a running race. Wait for Felix to do something jaw dropping and then let others know you read it here.
Prediction – Cowboys 27-24 Vikings – Game MVP Tony Romo 311 yards and 2 touchdowns
AFC – Jets @ Chargers
It doesn’t matter what you wear, what you smell like or whether you know your tango from your Foxtrot, providing you have a ticket to the dance you can do whatever you like on the dance floor. Take a bow the Rex Ryan led New York Jets. The Jets have the number one defense and the number one running game, but they now face a team that has the hottest winning streak in the NFL. We all have to admit that Ladanian Tomlinson is no longer the same 20+ touchdown monster that he has been, but he still has a nose for the end zone. The maturation of Vincent Jackson has countered the decline in LT’s skills, and Antonio Gates continues to remain at top three fantasy TE for San Diego. This should be the game that signifies the Philip Rivers era in the AFC, but Jets CB Darrell Revis is that good that he can kill off Jackson and force Rivers to make passes that he might not want to attempt. This game will be the lowest scoring and it could come down to the kicking game (both field goals and field position from punts). It could be a bit of magic from Darren Sproles that blows this game open but I see the Jets leaving California with their Superbowl dream still intact.
Prediction – Jets 19-16 Chargers – Game MVP Thomas Jones 103 yards rushing 1 touchdown
AFC – Ravens @ Colts
The Ravens blew past the Patriots from the first offensive play and then like a skilled surfer dude they rode the wave of momentum to build up a lead that even Tom Brady could not claw back. The Colts will simply not allow this to happen as Peyton Manning will lock and load time after time to help Indy create an early lead. The Ravens running game is pretty special and Ray Rice was rewarded for his show of skills by gaining a 2nd Team All-Pro selection earlier this week. With support from Willis McGahee the Ravens running game has been up there with the best. This game is in my opinion the Colts to win, with their home fans, home turf and NFL MVP. If the Colts get a 21 point lead this game could get ugly. I would love to see the unfashionable Ravens get the upset and set up a defensive slug fest with the Jets for the rights to go to the Superbowl, but this is Manning’s time. The Colts have no Steelers or Patriots to face and they just have to much speed to be stopped. Reggie Wayne to have a beast of a game and Dallas Clark to cause headaches to the Baltimore D all day long.
Prediction – Colts 30-19 Ravens – Game MVP Reggie Wayne 121 yards and 1 touchdown