Playoff Thoughts, Observations & Fantasy Football
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First off, the team that’s going to come out of the NFC is the Seattle Seahawks. No, just kidding. I wanted to get your attention. The city of Seattle has seen a team with a losing record make a strong playoff run before, as the NBA’s SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder) went 39-43 back in 1986/1987 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals before being put in their place by Magic Johnson and the Lakers. But there’s no Magic on the Seahawks, nor is there a Worthy or an Abdul-Jabbar.
The Saints share some similarities with the Showtime Lakers, as Drew Brees is often one of the NFL’s best point guards. But New Orleans isn’t going to survive the loss of Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas unless Reggie Bush goes crazy during the playoffs. Fantasy nightmare Julius Jones is the only other Saints runner with any experience, and we all know how unreliable he is. How is he still in the league at this point, let alone on a playoff team? Anyways, I doubt Bush will be able to carry the load for three road games and the one-dimensional Saints will be unable to repeat as champions. They’ll undoubtedly survive this week, but the end will come after that. Brees could be the fantasy MVP of wild card weekend.
Last year I gave the Packers a good chance of going into Arizona and winning. They nearly pulled it off, and they have a shot at upsetting the Eagles if they can make the most of their blitzes. Michael Vick has been vulnerable to pressure down the stretch and Green Bay has a strong enough defense to give anyone in the playoffs a tough game. The winner of the Eagles/Packers game has a decent chance to make some serious noise.
The Bears didn’t head into the playoffs with a lot of momentum, but the Saints lost three in a row last year before the post-season started and we all know how that turned out. Chicago’s calling card is defense, but their hopes ride with Jay Cutler and his ability to avoid mistakes.
And maybe the playoffs will cause the FOX network to finally realize how good the Atlanta Falcons are. Despite playing in a top-ten media market and having one of the best young quarterbacks in the game, the network almost never assigned its top teams to Atlanta games (of course, when Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa are considered a “top” team, the fans of Atlanta should be grateful). Home-field advantage usually works out better in the NFC, and I think these Falcons can fly all the way to the Super Bowl.
Over in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens take pride in being Road Warriors and on paper, the playoff-tested Ravens should beat the Chiefs. Kansas City seems to be coming apart at the seams with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis leaving for the University of Florida. However, losing the season finale may work out better for the Chiefs, as the Jets could have used Darrelle Revis on Dwayne Bowe. It will be hard for the Chiefs to run on the Ravens, but Baltimore doesn’t have a shutdown corner. The Chiefs will be able to maintain balance, but I can’t see it being enough.
The Patriots are the clear favorite to win the world championship, but the Ravens won’t be intimidated if they draw New England in the second round. And I think they will, because I think the Colts will knock out the Jets. Traditionally, the Colts have fared better in the playoffs when they haven’t had the highest seed. Remember 2006? Tight end Jacob Tamme should have a big game. The Jets have been incredibly lucky throughout the 2010 season and maybe that luck will continue for one more week, but I don’t want to bet against Peyton Manning just yet.
An Indianapolis victory would mean a trip to Pittsburgh, and a Steelers/Colts game would be very entertaining. These teams don’t battle as often as the Colts and Patriots, but they’ve had some fun contests in the past, especially their playoff game back in 2006. Pittsburgh is in the same position as the runner-up in a beauty pageant, since they can assume home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if New England stumbles. I don’t think the Patriots will.
Enjoy the playoffs!