Posts Tagged ‘NFL wild card predictions’

luckk Wild Card weekend is akin to being let loose in a Belgian chocolate factory. You get to taste the quality (8 of the NFL’s top 12 teams)and get to gorge (on four NFL games over two-days) but the bonus ball is that you don’t count the calories.

That’s not strictly true as I can pretty much guarantee that any NFL fan watching all 240 minutes of live playoff football will likely dine out on pizza and crisps and a few litres of suds.

All four games this weekend have great story lines  from what maybe Ray Lewis’s final NFL contest against a coach who has fought Leukemia to two of the most efficient rookie quarterbacks in NFL history facing each other in a venue that has not hosted a playoff game for 13 seasons.

Let me get straight into it and offer my predictions – with a soupson of insight.

Bengals @ Texans

The Texans sure know how to walk backwards dragging their bruised and battered limbs into the playoffs, having suffered a late regular season collapse, and instead of having a week off, have to face a very respectable Bengals team that have quietly returned to the post-season for a second consecutive year. Arian Foster will want to impress in what is Matt Schaub’s first ever playoff game. Talk is that the Bengals defense has done a very good job, but this game will come down to Houston’s defense shining on a national stage. J.J. Watt is an absolute beast and will get a couple of sacks and a forced fumble.

Texans to win 19-13

Vikings @ Packers

Weird one as the teams only met last week in Minny, with Adrian Petersen running so hard the Packers wished they had gone to a three-day New Year party starting on 29 December. I absolutely loved it when Packers WR Greg Jennings was asked this week if he enjoyed playing at Freezing Lambeau Field and he said that he would rather play in a dome – at last someone who is honest. This game will be heavily influenced by the fact it will be played in Green Bay, that and Aaron Rodgers will be hellbent on making a playoff run after last season’s debacle. Keys here will be Packs ability to establish a running game and Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder’s ability to stay upright. I say this gets ugly as AP fails to establish himself and is held under 100 yards rushing.

Packers to win 37-14

Colts @ Ravens

Forget all the emotional crap about Ray Lewis coming back from an injury to inspire the Ravens to a playoff run. This is not the time for a Ravens revival. People have forgotten how devastating the loss of cornerback Lardarius Webb was earlier in the season. The Colts have defied all the odds, going from 2-14 to 11-5. Andrew Luck (see pic) has slotted into the Indy QB position like a seasoned veteran, and done what other great quarterback have done – performed alchemy to turn the rest of the team from base metal into gold. An old Reggie Wayne and a young T.Y Hilton should not be enough to get a team 11 wins, but that is why the guy went #1 in the draft in 2012. Look for the Ravens to hold a lead for the majority of the game only for Luck to get the winning td or final drive that leads to the sealing field goal.

Colts to win 24-20

Seahawks @ Redskins – see my preview here

Stat Attack – my predictions for Wild Card stats leaders

Passing yards – Andrew Luck – Colts

Rushing yards – Alfred Morris – Redskins

Receiving yards – Andre Johnson – Texans

 

 

 

Alf is poised for another big game on Sunday

Alf is poised for another big game on Sunday

Having stayed up until 4.30am on Monday morning and then  being in work for 9.00am I can say that I made a small sacrifice (missed sleep) in order to will the Redskins to their seventh consecutive victory.

The sacrifice made by Alfred Morris the Washington Redskins outstanding rookie running back was far greater as he ground out a whopping 200 yards rushing to help his team win their division for the first time this century.

The reward for such a heroic performance is a home playoff game, the first since 1999, against a talented Seattle Seahawks team.

This is only the second time I think that two rookie quarterbacks have met in the playoffs as Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2010 goes head to head with Seattle’s young stud Russell Wilson.

I predicted Wilson to be the offensive rookie of the year, and whilst he will probably lose out to Griffin III he has had a spectacular season that has to be recognised. The Seahawks went 8-0 at home, something that teams with such a fervent home support should achieve, but rarely do.

The Redskins traded the whole farm to get RGIII at pick #2 in the 2012 draft, and despite my reluctance to not get too excited, having watched years of tepid quarterbacking in Washington, this is one man who has lived up to the hype from the moment the season started.

RGIII has run and passed his way to 10 wins in 16 games, not a record Redskins fans are familiar with. His best skill has not been his lightning runs or bullet passes, in my eyes it has been his absolute wizardry with the ball before it is passed, like David Blaine on crack, constantly confusing opponents as he hides the pigskin up his sleeve before breaking for a run, delivering an accurate play action pass or directing Alfred Morris to another 10+ yard gain.

RGIII has also done the one thing that sets him apart from any Redskins quarterback in the last decade by avoiding turnovers. Two lost fumbles and five interceptions in 15 games as a rookie is simply not normal. I can recall rookie quarterbacks committing that many turnovers in a game or two.

Seattle have Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch, at lead running back, who managed 1,590 yards rushing, third best in the NFL this season. Problem is that the team he plays against on Sunday possesses the second best rusher in the league, as Alfred Morris will be fired up and ready to rock.

The ‘Hawks offensive line has two Pro Bowl starters in tackle Russel Okung and center Max Unger, whereas the Redskins have one second string Pro Bowler in the form of tackle Trent Williams.

In my opinion the Redskins center Will Montgomery should have got a Pro Bowl shout himself, as he has been a very steady and calming influence on a team that did no more than simply lead the entire NFL in team rushing.

The Seahawks and Redskins are similar in that their least glamorous part of their offenses is their receiving corps. Washington’s top two Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss barely set a 12 pack of birthday candles alight and the Seahawks Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have been average if I was to stretch it. Neither team has had an outstanding tight end performance this season, but both team’s gameplans have meant this position has been more about complex blocking assignments than 40 yard fly patterns.

On the defensive side the Seahawks have a far superior unit, but for some strange reason the Redskins 7 game winning streak has a lot to do with the Washington defense stepping up and delivering killer turnovers.

When Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson intercepted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo with three minutes left, and the team only up by three points, there was a collective exhaling of breath by the home fans that was enough to register as an A grade tropical storm on the Weather Channel’s wind monitoring device.

This game will not be decided by kickers, or by two of the best running teams in the league, this game will come down to one simple fact – whoever commits the fewest turnovers will win the game.

RGIII and Russell Wilson are not your typical rookie fumble-fest turnover machines. They are both coached extremely well and will be determined to show a global audience that they can move on to the next round of the dance.

I just think that home-field advantage will be enough to lift the Redskins to a narrow victory. The Seahawks are 3-5 in games away from the artificial turf and the drizzle. Not to say it won’t be raining in Landover, Maryland on Sunday night, but playing on a churned up grass surface is something that Alf and the ‘Skins are accustomed to.

I’ll say Redskins 27-20 with RGIII rushing for one score and passing for another and Russell Wilson committing an uncharacteristic turnover that will cost the Seahawks a chance to progress.

Look for the Seahawks defense to play hard for 60 minutes, but Coach Shanahan and his son errr Coach Shanahan to be prepared with play action passing and a run game more akin to a meeting of the magic circle than the diesel/counter gap running of the 1980s Redskins.

Also look out for a furry alien at Fed Ex Field – you heard it here first – its time go up into the loft and dig out your Alf dolls. It’s Alf Sunday.

Any thoughts people?

Big Mike is due a big day - why not in the playoffs!

Some say Christmas begins 25 December, not true if you ask me, the real winter festivities begin today with the NFL 2011 Wild Card playoff games.

Having the two Super Bowl finalists from last season playing this weekend simply adds to the fun, and a 7-9 team in the mix makes this 4 games full of intrigue, mystery and intensity.

Saturday 8 Jan 2011

Saints @ Seahawks – This should simply be a no contest, a 7-9 team with two underwhelming quarterbacks against the current Super Bowl holders. Only problem is once you reach the NFL playoffs everyone is equal. That’s right the Seattle Seahawks must be respected and for some godforsaken reason I cant shake the idea that the Saints will come into this one thinking they have to do no more than turn up to take away the prize known as victory. For that reason I am going to test my own sanity and call a Seahawks win, on the back of some miracle catches from Mike Williams. After being out of the NFL in 2008 and 2009 Big Mike has had a great season, with 65 catches for 751 yards. Almost 2 in 3 of his catches have resulted in First Downs. With the Saints heading into the contest without their two best running backs (no I’m not forgetting Reggie Bush but I see him as a wide-back and not a running back) and with a lack of form, this could be an upset for the ages. The ‘Hawks are at home and whilst that means little for some games it is damm noisy in the chilly quarters of Washington State.

NFL Fan in England prediction – Seahawks 23-20 Saints – Game MVP Matt Hasselbeck 235 yards and 2 tds

Jets @ Colts – I don’t think ill make it much past the kickoff in term of watching this live (thanks Sky+ for rescucing my playoff experience) but this looks like a mouthwatering game between two bitter rivals. The Jets and the Colts have been divisional rivals in the past, and they met in the AFC championship game just over a year ago. The form books have shown that Peyton Manning looks like he is finally slowing down, finishing the 2010 season with his lowest rating in 8 seasons. Not that finishing with a 91.9 rating is acceptable for any mortal – but Peyton is no human being, he is a human CPU with a helluva arm. The Jets thought they were Super Bowl champions before the opening kickoff this season, but after their humiliating loss to the Pats they have proven they are not ready to be a champion yet.

NFL Fan in England prediction – Colts 33-16 Jets – Game MVP Jospeh Addai 101 rushing yards and 2 tds

 

My hat is off to the running prowess of the Ravens Ray Rice

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?