NFL Predictions: Wildcard Games

7 Jan

The playoffs are here! WOOOO!!!!!

UPDATE:
Sunday, Jan. 8th

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants 1:00 ET

Andrew – Atlanta. I was pretty hard on Atlanta in the first part of the year, but down the stretch / when it matters most, their offense has really started clicking. Although rookie Julio Jones struggled with injuries, you can see what a huge difference he makes when he’s on the field, and New York will struggle to cover both him and Roddy White. If Atlanta can establish the run game with Michael Turner against the traditionally stout Giants defensive line, then Atlanta has opportunity to keep New York off balance and on their heels. Although Eli Manning has probably had his best year yet (or since winning the SuperBowl), and even with the emergence of undrafted rookie WR Victor Cruz, I just don’t see the Giants offense being able to do enough when it comes to it. Keep in mind, this Giants team got swept by the Redskins this season. THE REDSKINS!

Greg – Atlanta. The Giants have had a pretty rough year, never really looking like a playoff bound team. But alas, the NFC East was horrible, so they got to sneak into the playoffs — and with home field advantage. This game should still be interesting, because like the Giants, the Falcons have looked inconsistent this year also. The game should be pretty close, I think Eli will play well, but at the end of the game, the rest of his team will let him down. The Falcons win a close one.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos 4:30 ET

Andrew – Pittsburgh. Ugh, I don’t know what to make of this game. The stupid Steelers are so injured that the Broncos could win this just by default. Sure Safety, and leader of the Defense, Brian Dawkins is out (who I wanted the Redskins to get after he left Philadelphia), but the Denver defense has been known to clamp down when it tries, with or without him. One way or another, both teams have become too predictable. Broncos ran the ball 100% of the time on first down in the first quarter of their last game. Due to Ben’s injury, the Steelers have been passing out of shotgun formation 80% of the time. This leaves little to the imagination. The only break that the Steelers may get in this game are turnovers. Containing Tebow is a must, forcing him to air it out…and if he airs it to the wrong team too many times, we may just see Brady Quinn (as some people have been reported / denied by the team though). One the flip side, if Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil get after Ben Rothlisburger, we may end up seeing Dennis Dixon. Super long story short, in the end I think Denver will struggle moving the ball against the Steelers defense, and while the Steelers won’t be as proficient as they have been in years past, will do enough to win the game.

Greg – Denver Broncos. The Steelers are coming into this game an 8 point favorite…in Denver! A slap in the face to the Broncos who should use it as a rally cry going into this game. It sort of reminds me of the Saints-Seahawks game last year — I think a similar situation plays out today. Big Ben thrives off being able to be mobile and stand up to tacklers, with his injured ankle, he will be limited in both aspects. With no Mendenhall either, their offense could find themselves struggling for points against a pretty good defense in Denver. On the other side, Tebow time. The Steelers must contain him. He has been good at not throwing interceptions, but keep him in the pocket and he gets nervous and usually gets strip sacked. I think this game will be very interesting to watch in the beginning. How each team comes out in the first quarter will dictate the rest of the game. I think Broncos win in a close one, a couple turnovers by the Steelers — maybe one to set up a Tebow time drive!

 

Saturday Jan 7th

Afternoon Game

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans 4:30 ET

Andrew – Houston. All week I’ve been say that the Bengals were going to win, and even though recently, I’ve been going against my instincts and been wrong, I still think that it will be Houston that wins this game. Both teams have great defense, and both teams have decent offenses – Houston’s running attack is killer, while rookie receiver AJ Green has had an outstanding year. Both Quarterbacks are rookies (first time ever in a playoff match up), but Dalton has a bit more experience, playing the full year, rather than Yates who was a third stringer, coming in after injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. I think Cincinnati will make sure to take away Andre Johnson as a passing option (as best as possible), but that will inevitably open things up underneath. I’m expecting a close game, and probably low scoring away, maybe 24-20, Texans.

Greg – Cincinnati. I do not trust the Texans to win this game. The Bengals have not beaten a team in the playoffs, but I trust the rookie Dalton over Yates. Cincinnati wins a close game.

Night Game

Detriot Lions at New Orleans Staints 8:00 ET

Andrew – New Orleans. The way the Lions got torched by backup Matt Flynn (who will be a starter somewhere else next year) leads me to believe that Drew Brees won’t have much of a problem doing the same. The Saint’s offensive line has done well protecting Brees all year, and although Suh could cause some match up problems, I don’t really see the Lion’s defense line alone stymieing New Orleans’ offense. On the other hand, it’s not like Matt Stafford has just been a complete bust. He has now joined the 5,000 yards mark and has Calvin Johnson, Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew who can all cause some issues for the Saints Defense. I expect to see a good ol’ fashion, high scoring shoot out, with the Saints coming out on top.

Greg – New Orleans. I really hope this is a shoot out. Really do. but I don’t think the Lions can keep up, Stafford should throw a couple interceptions to turn the game. Saints win by at least two touchdowns, covering the spread for the ninth time at home this season.

Sunday, Jan. 8th…. (teaser of a post!)

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