Things heat up in the NFL this weekend with the Divisional Round of the playoffs, another two great afternoons of back-to-back games - though any of these match ups will be hard pressed to be more exciting than that Arizona/Green Bay game last Sunday.
Last week, I was 2-0 on Saturday and 0-2 on Sunday so hopefully I can pull it together this week as some of the big-name teams like
Indianapolis and New Orleans make their playoff debuts. Here are my picks:
Arizona (11-6) @ New Orleans (13-3)
My pick: New Orleans
-You'd think I would be picking Arizona to win this game after that performance last week where they pulled out a dramatic 51-45 overtime win, but I'm not convinced of their consistency this season. They've been a team that'll turn in impressive and brutal efforts in back-to-back weeks (example: Kurt Warner's five interceptions against Carolina and then five touchdown passes against Chicago the next week). The Saints, on the other hand, ended the season with three straight losses which has some people wondering if they're still good enough to dominate the way they did at other points in the year. I'm not one of those people - they're a rested team, they've had lots of time to refocus (if they had to). It should be a good battle between Kurt Warner and Drew Brees, but Arizona's defense can't play like it did last week if they hope to stay afloat.
Baltimore (10-7) @ Indianapolis (14-2)
My pick: Indianapolis
-The big question heading into this weekend was "which of the favorites will fall," but I don't think it's over for the big two just yet (Indie and NO). The Colts were lights out all season long until resting their starters in the final couple of weeks, and while Baltimore seems to be peaking right now they were helped last week by a New England offense that didn't have all of its weapons and wasn't playing at 100%. It's hard to argue with Peyton Manning, who threw for 4,500 and 33 touchdowns this season while leading the Colts to some pretty impressive victories over the course of the year. I think it’ll be a tight game, but I’m giving this one to Indie.
Dallas (12-5) @ Minnesota (12-4)
My pick: Minnesota
-The Vikings have lost three of their last five games, but they finished the regular season strong with a 44-7 thrashing of the New York Giants in Week 17. The Dallas Cowboys have won four straight, including consecutive poundings of the Philadelphia Eagles and a win over the then-undefeated Saints. They’ll be a tough team to beat the way they’re playing, but the Vikings have been a solid club all season long, especially on home turf where they are 8-0. Also, the way Brett Favre has played this year. I’m actually scared to see what he’ll do in a big game like this one.
NY Jets (10-7) @ San Diego (13-3)
My pick: San Diego
-No NFL team is hotter than the San Diego Chargers right now, which doesn’t bode well for those NY Jets. The Chargers haven’t lost since October 19th of last year, taking down 11 straight opponents to wind out the regular season after a 2-3 start. A big part of San Diego’s success has been the offensive production of LaDainian Tomlinson, who had 11 touchdowns in his last 10 games after a very slow start to the season. The Jets, on the other hand, were up and down all season but are coming off back to back wins over the Bengals, which followed a win over the Colts in the second last week of the season. This will be a good game, but I think Philip Rivers will win this duel with Mark Sanchez.