The road to Super Bowl XLV gets extremely interesting this weekend as we will be whittling down from eight to a fantastic four – with no Thing or man with rubber arms in sight.
Gone are the current AFC and NFC champions, both knocked out in the Wild Card round last week.
Ready to make their 2011 playoff debut are the Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Bears – the top four seeds in the NFL this season.
Joining them are the survivors from last week, the Packers, the miracle 8-9 Seahawks (still with a losing record despite a playoff win), the J-E-T-S and the Baltimore Ravens.
Without further ado it’s prediction time……
Jets @ Patriots – Following the absolute slaughter of the Jets by the Bellicheck machine known simply as the Pats this should be deemed as a New England walkover. Brady is fresh from a week off, spent combing his hair and applying expensive Hollywood folicle product. Sanchez on the other hand tried his best to lose the game last week according to many NFL hacks, and he was rescued from oblivion by a late Antonio Cromartie kickoff return and some kicking heroics. This game will, I have no doubt, see the Jets madder than hell because they wont take it anymore, and despite all the smoke being blow up the Patriots asses, I have this as a Jets win. Why you may ask? Well firstly the Jets have a quality running game blending the shifty Shonn Greene and the veteran, but so far Super Bowl ring-less Ladanian Tomlinson. IN one of the Pats losses this season Peyton Hillis ran for a devastating 184 yards as the Browns cruised to an upset win. Sanchez has a 3-1 record in the playoffs in only his second NFL season – a remarkable achievement considering he is perceived as inaccurate and lacking big play dynamism. Brady has a lot of weapons, more than the host of a terrorist gun amnesty convention, but he can be rattled. The Pats may have a quality team but I just feel that this is not their time, and for the Jets this is part of the stars aligning. I also cant help but see a vision of Brad Smith, the modern day slash (not the Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist), doing something special.
Prediction – Jets 23-20 Patriots – MVP the Jets offensive line helping the team rush for 180 yards.
Ravens @ Steelers – If this was a few thousand years ago it would be a prize gladiatorial fight between Spartapolamalu and Spartalewis in the amphitheatre of your nightmares. As it is the 2011 version wont be much different, with blood, sweat, tears and likely some body parts being left on the field at the end of this battle. The Steelers have the experience and the QB with two hand-crafted rings full of Pittsburgh shaped jewels. The Ravens have a mixture of youth (QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice) along with some grizzled veteran wideouts and TE in Anquan Boldin (who faced the Steelers in the Super Bowl two seasons ago) TJ Houshmananzadddehhhahahahaaaahahahahah and the second coming of Todd Heap. The Steelers have in my humble opinion the most underrated starting running back in the NFL Rashard Mendenhall, and possibly the best deep threat wide receiver to play in the league in the last 5 years in the form of Mike Wallace. It’s not rocket science but this game will come down to turnovers – if any team makes three they will not make it past this weekend. Yes I expect a close game, and this time I’ll go with the Ravens in the second AFC upset of the weekend. Providing Ray Rice can chew up the clock, Willis McGahee can vulture two red zone scores and Baltimore can end up with a ground shaking win and a matchup for Rex Ryan’s former team versus his current team in the AFC Championship.
Prediction – Ravens 24-19 Steelers – MVP Willis McGahee two short scores – one late to seal the win.
Packers @ Falcons – There is a lot of love out there for the Green Bay Packers, and a distinct lack of respect for the 13-3 Falcons, who boast a 7-1 home record. Matty Ice has shown he can lead a team to a division crown and the best record in the NFC conference, but still they seem to be underestimated. The Pack have lost 5 games already away from the chilly tundra of Wisconsin, and whilst the Georgia Dome turf may suit them as a pass first team, they will be playing the house of the Clean Birds with no facility to Lambeau Leap. Packers RB James Starks came from nowhere to post gaudy figures against the Eagles, but a repeat performance will be much harder. This will be a big game for Falcons DE John Abraham, who will be sniffing out Aaron Rodgers like a fox after some chicken bones in a bin bag. This will also be time for former Chargers #2 rb to show the world why he is a #1 RB and a quality one at that. The Falcons have the ability to stretch the field with future Canton enshrinee TE Tony Gonzales, and the league’s top wideout Roddy White, but it will be Turner’s ability to keep the Packers honest that will be the biggest factor in this game. The Packers love to use defensive back blitz packages, but the towering Matt Ryan should be able to see them coming and use Gonzales as a perfect outlet en-route to a second consecutive home playoff game next week.
Prediction – Falcons 31-27 Packers – MVP Matt Ryan 255 yards and three touchdown passes.
Seahawks @ Bears – Two division winners facing each other for the second time this season in the Windy City, one with a quarterback who has played in a Super Bowl, and one who’s gun-slinger looks like he has a man’s body with a petulant child’s head on top. The Seahawks are capable of going back to Chicago and taking away a victory, but I am predicting a grizzly bear mauling by Peppers Idonoje and Urlacher come the weekend match-up. This could finally be the game Devin Hester shows up as a starting wide receiver, but we are more likely to see Charlie Whitehurst get a military buzz cut first. The key to the Bears moving up and down the field will be the big play capability of Johnny Knox and the ability for Mike Martz to swallow his pride and give the rock to Matt Forte. The Seahawks will be able to match the Bears offensively, but they will not be able to prevent the Bears D from menacing Hasslebeck all day long. I predicted a Hawks win last week, but this time they will come unstuck, the Bears will be ready with a honey trap. Kick to Hester at your own peril.
Prediction – Bears 27 – 10 Seahawks – MVP Matt Forte – 160 combined yards and 2 touchdowns.