By: Josh Satler – www.profootball101.org
Welcome to Pro Football 101’s Wild Card Special. After finishing off a solid year of our best bets and money-line picks, we’ll look to continue our hot hand into Wild-Card Weekend.
1. Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) vs. Miami Dolphins. When these two teams met earlier in the season, the Ravens handed the Dolphins a 27-13 loss at home; not much has changed from that point to lead me to believe that this outcome will be any different.
The Dolphins’ defense will contain Flacco and Co. and keep this score in reach, but I don’t see Pennington and his offensive teammates as being able to muster much of anything vs. this stellar Baltimore defense. And that will be the difference in this one.
Next in Line
2. Indianapolis Colts (-1) vs. San Diego Chargers. The last time these two teams played, in a game that Indy won 23-20, the Colts were three-point underdogs; this time, they’re the favorites. Both offenses will do a lot of damage in what should be a high-scoring affair, but in the end, look for the Colts, and Vinatieri in particular, to send Indianapolis to the second round of the NFL playoffs.
We like Dungy to get the better of Turner in this one and that (coaching) should be the deciding factor in this very close game.
3. Atlanta Falcons (-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals. This game is very difficult to pick. Do you go with the Falcons, who are being led by a rookie QB that appears to have hit the rookie wall over the past four weeks, or do you go with the home team, which has been destroyed by every playoff team they’ve faced in the past month?
Oh the dilemma…
We’re going to stick with the team that can play defense and run the ball and that’s why we’re picking the Falcons to win a close won on the road in the early Saturday matchup.
4. Minnesota Vikings (+3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. See money line analysis below.
1. Minnesota Vikings (+150) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. If Andy Reid comes out and calls an excellent game plan (e.g. a balanced offensive attack), Philly will win. But we’re not so sure that that will be the case. The first thing to look for will be if the Eagles have a let down emotionally after a huge win over their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. It’s sometimes difficult to transfer this over.
Next will be the running game. Will Reid abandon it? If DT Pat Williams is back this weekend, as he says he’ll be, we think he’ll have no choice but to do this. With the Williams’ twins in the middle, the Vikings are as difficult a team to run as anyone in the NFL.
And if this happens, look for Minnesota to put the ball in McNabb’s hands to beat them, and in that case, we like the Vikings chances. Offensively, Minnesota will pound the ball with Peterson and Taylor and take their shots in the passing game when the opportunities present themselves.
But against a Jim Johnson-led defense, there won’t be too many, so Jackson will have to execute when they occur. In what will be a close, low-scoring game, look for the Vikings to pull off the slim upset at home and advance to round two.