Few occasions give me more pleasure than watching NFL teams leaving it all on the field during the playoffs.
This season (2009-2010) has seen some amazing individual and team performances, from Chris Johnson’s all time yards from scrimmage record to the Colts and the Saints starting their seasons 13-0.
It’s now time to pack away the regular season, head for the loft and find the big old box marked ‘Playoffs’.
Wild Card weekend often lives up to its name with some crazy games and the odd huge blowout.
NFL FAN IN ENGLAND is proud to make his Wild Card predictions………
AFC – Ravens @ Patriots
The Ravens sneaked into the playoffs rather last minute, whilst the Patriots are keeping under the radar despite winning their division. Tom Brady will miss the NFL’s top receiver (by catches) Mr Wes Welker, and will instead look for tight ends Chris Baker and Ben Watson to step up. Baltimore will continue to rely on a ground game that has a superb combo of the lightning in a bottle Ray Rice and the touchdown terror Willis McGahee, not forgetting Pro Bowl fullback Leron McClain. I see this game as the Ray Rice playoff party as he torches the Patriots for 130 yards rushing and a score. The rookie CBs for the Pats will be tested by the wily veteran Derek Mason, and TE Todd Heap will be hoping to outmuscle the Pats LBs for some big chain moving first downs. The biggest factor will be the young Ravens offensive line facing the grizzled Pats D line. I say one for the kids in what will be reported on as an upset.
Score Prediction – Ravens 23-19 Patriots
Game MVP Prediction – Ray Rice Ravens RB, 130 yards rushing, 61 yards receiving 1 total td
AFC – Jets @ Bengals
The first of three Week 17 rematches makes for a fantastic game for the neutral fan. I’m not quite neutral as I have always had a soft spot for the Bengals (must be the uniform). After the Jets just flat out embarrassed the Bengals in New York I’m sure Marvin Lewis will have instructed his team to just erase any memories of the game. With Cedric Benson back and Carson Palmer actually playing at 100% then this game will look nothing like last Sunday night. Benson is the key to this game as he needs to churn the butter and keep both Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene off the field for the Jets. New York’s rookie QB Mark Sanchez will not be asked to pass the way to victory and if he passes over 220 yards I will be shocked. The Jets offensive line is going to help the Jets win this game as Coach Rex Ryan will turn Sanchez into a handoff monkey.
Score Prediction – Jets 21 – 17 Bengals
Game MVP Prediction – Thomas Jones – 127 yards rushing 2 tds
NFC – Eagles @ Cowboys
So much for the December/Jan Cowboys curse, after ripping apart the Redskins and the Eagles over two weeks this is a Cowboys team that is now able to win in winter. Miles Austin has come form nowhere to become the ‘Boys #1 weapon, even above Pro Bowl colleague TE Jason Witten. Austin can score from anywhere and this leaves Witten covered by the linebackers, and guys like Patrick Crayton and Kevin Ogletree man marked by the #2 or #3 Eagles CBs. Philadelphia are a true Jeckyl and Hyde team, one week world beaters one week losing to the inept Oakland Raiders. Brian Westbrook is a shell of the player he was two or three years ago and Lesean McCoy is in my opinion a season or two from becoming a top 10 back. The Eagles will be mad as a bee in a matchbox and this is where I think Andy Reid’s playoff experience will shine through. A real barnburner of a game, will see Jeremy Maclin score the winning touchdown in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Score Prediction – Eagles 28-24 Cowboys
Game MVP Prediction – Donovan McNabb – 277 yards passing three tds passing
NFC – Packers @ Cardinals
Again a rematch and again one team will be spitting feathers after being humiliated last week. If I have learnt one thing in life it is to NEVER underestimate Kurt Warner when its playoff time. Warner has taken his troops to the Superbowl three times in his career, and the 2009 Cardinals can only be described as better than the team that almost lifted the Lombardi Trophy in 2009. The Pack are looking good with Aaron Rodgers at the helm and his supporting cast have stepped up in recent weeks, with RB Ryan Grant and TE Jermichael Finley both looking like show stoppers. Unlike the other Wild Card games where the running games will be the key, this is a battle of pure passing and Warner will show why he deserves his place in Canton by 2020 with an impressive win.
Score Prediction – Cardinals 35 -24 Packers
Game MVP Prediction – Kurt Warner Cardinals QB 311 yards passing 3 tds
What DO YOU GUYS AND GIRLS think?