Well, three weeks left before the NFL Playoffs kick off the weekend of January 6th and 7th. Right off the bat I would like to breathe a sigh of relief that the ridiculous NFL Network does not have rights to any of these games, otherwise its likely that most markets would not be able to see them with all the cable companies that are unwilling to pay the high amount that the network wants to be able to televise the games. Of course what would be worse, not seeing the games, or having to listen to possibly the worst twosome ever to call a game – Bryant Gumble and Chris Collinsworth? I can handle Collinsworth, even though he makes himself sound like he was Jerry Rice when he was playing, but Gumble?! How many times in a game can you butcher names, facts, and everything else, then come back with “I’m sorry” or “excuse me”?
Anyway, enough about that – here is the way the the league would play out if the playoffs were to start today:
#1 San Diego and #2 Indianapolis would each get byes and host Divisional games at home the week of January 13th and 14th.
#3 Baltimore would host #6 Jacksonville in a wild card game the opening weekend of the playoffs.
#4 New England would host #5 Cincinnati in a wild card game the opening weekend of the playoffs.
When looking ahead to these matchups, they are pretty straight forward from the standpoint of the home teams are going to be favored, and the home teams should be able to win each game. I would for sure like the Ravens at home in a matchup with the Jags. Jacksonville is a totally different team away from Alltell Stadium, and the Ravens defense on a cold day in B-More would be able to stop the ground game of the Jags.
Despite their recent struggles, I think the Pats would be able to use their running game combo of Maroney and Dillon to keep the Bengals offense off the field and Brady would be his usual playoff self, leading the Pats to a home win over the Bengals. I know that a lot of people would jump on the Bengals on this one, but let’s not forget that it’s Brady at home in the playoffs, and I think that would spell doom for the cats.
That would lead to some interesting second round, or divisional games:
#1 San Diego at home vs #4 New England and #2 Indianapolis at home vs Baltimore.
I’ll leave it off at that point, and give some more thoughts on those possible matchups in the near future. Now let’s move over to the wild NFC, where it seems like this season things can change from top to bottom in a week:
#1 Chicago and #2 New Orleans would each get byes and host Divisional games at home the week of January 13th and 14th.
#3 Seattle would host #6 Philadelphia in a wild card game the opening weekend of the playoffs.
#4 Dallas would host #5 New York in a wild card game the opening weekend of the playoffs.
Again I would have to say the home teams have the advantage in both NFC wild card games. The Eagles are playing on guts and heart right now with Jeff Garcia playing well at quarterback for the injured Donovan McNabb. Seattle has struggled this season, and a return to the SuperBowl would mean two road wins, which would be very tough. The Cowboys still have a shot to move from the 4 seed to the 2 seed with 2-3 wins and a Saints loss, but for now, they sit at the 4 seed. I think a third game in Dallas with the Giants would be an advantage for the Cowboys, and I would take them in this game.
If both home teams win, here is how the 2nd round would shape up:
#1 Chicago at home vs #4 Dallas and #2 New Orleans at home vs #3 Seattle.
Again, let’s leave those alone and just think on them for awhile as we still have lots of football to digest until those games would happen the weekend of January 13th and 14th.