Thank goodness! The playoffs are here.
Eight teams will play this upcoming weekend, with only four teams advancing into the second (divisional) round.
Teams that are lucky enough to rest and automatically advance are: Atlanta, Chicago, New England and Pittsburgh.
Here’s what the line-up looks like for this upcoming weekend:
Saturday, January 8th
4:30 p.m. — New Orleans @ Seattle
- New Orleans was 10/1 to win the Super Bowl before the season started. Seattle was 75/1. The Saints are the only team to be more than a 3-point favorite this weekend (New Orleans is favored by 10 points on the road).
- Seattle is 7-9, and the Saints won the Super Bowl last year
- Pick: NEW ORLEANS (-10)
8:00 p.m. — N.Y. Jets @ Indianapolis
- This game pits the two teams together that Vegas thought would have the best chance to win the Super Bowl. Each team had 6/1 odds to win Super Bowl 45, and will now play each other this weekend, in a re-match of last year’s AFC Championship game.
- Mark Sanchez has another year of experience plus Santonio Holmes and Ladainian Tomlinson.
- The Colts are without Dallas Clark and Bob Sanders.
- Pick: N.Y. JETS (+3)
Sunday, January 9th
1:00 p.m. — Baltimore @ Kansas City
- The Chiefs get into the playoffs after losing to the Raiders. The Ravens beat the Bengals in week 17, but not by much.
- The last time these two teams met, Baltimore beat Kansas City at home in the 2009 season opener, 38-24. The last time Baltimore went to Kansas City was week 14 of the 2006 season. Baltimore won, 20-10, behind 283 yards passing from Steve McNair.
- Baltimore has the pieces to be the best and beat the best, but their challenge is to execute. Kansas City does fairly well, but are still a young team with very little playoff experience.
- Since this is the third straight year the Ravens have made it to the playoffs and because they have hall of fame veterans like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Derrick Mason, I’m picking the Ravens.
- Pick: RAVENS (-3)
4:30 p.m. — Green Bay @ Philadelphia
- This is a re-match of the week 1 match-up, in which Green Bay won, 27-20. Green Bay was 8/1 to win the Super Bowl before the season started, while the Eagles’ odds to win Super Bowl XLV were 25/1.
- In that game, Michael Vick had 35 touches (24 pass attempts, 11 rushes). Vick passed for 175 yards and one touchdown, and ran for 103 yards and one touchdown. Still, the Packers sacked the quarterback six times that game (three sacks by Clay Matthews).
- Offensively, the Packers only had the service of their star running back, Ryan Grant, for 21 minutes (after he suffered a season-ending right ankle injury).
- Yes, that was week 1. But still, the Packers were on the road, without a running game and they sacked the quarterback six times (sacked Vick three times).
- Pick: GREEN BAY (+2.5)
In the event that any of these playoff games go into overtime, remember the change to the overtime rules.
Back in late March, NFL owners voted (28-4) to give a team that loses the coin flip an offensive possession in overtime if the team that wins the coin toss converts a field goal on their first possession.
Whatever happens, these playoffs should be very exciting, regardless of which teams are playing. The margin for error greatly decreases. The tension and pressure greatly increases.
February 6th. Dallas, TX. That’s the goal.
It all starts for real, this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Seattle.
Thanks for reading.