Pigskin Pundit — NFL Playoffs Week Two

800px-VICKpbby Clash Daily’s Pigskin Pundit

Wild Card week is over, and while I finished the regular season with a mark of 149-75-1, I slumped to 2-2 for Wild Card Week.  The Colts proved too inexperienced to overcome the limping Ravens, and Green Bay had less to overcome this week with Ponder out than they did the week prior.  That Houston/Cincinnati game was perhaps the worst game I have watched this entire season, and had none of the earmarks of playoff football.  Worst of all, it was a boring game, which is a capital offense in the NFL.

Let’s look at Divisional Championship matchups.

Ravens @ Broncos — Does anyone want Baltimore in this matchup?  Bueller?  Bueller?  Anyone? 

The Ravens are a proud franchise who have put nonstop quality football on the field for the last ten years.  Ray Lewis has been canonized as THE prototype linebacker, and rightly so.  Ed Reed has been patrolling the backwaters of downfield territory like a shark scenting blood for many years.  But the key phrase is “many years“.  Age has this team in decline, Joe Flake-O has taken them as far as he is going to, and Denver supercedes them in every department.  Broncos, big.

Packers @ 49ers — Can Copernicus the Rook continue to lead Harbaugh’s offense into the teeth of experienced playoff defenses successfully?  What must Alex Smith be thinking, as someone else is doing the job he earned?  Can the Packers continue to perform at a high level, with some key injuries on their roster?  This is the level where little mistakes cost victories, and experience can really pay off.  Packer losses this season mean nothing now.  At some point in this game, Kaepernick is likely to make a rookie mistake that will be costly.  Even though he has a penchant for redeeming his mistakes immediately with scoring drives, the game still comes down to the two quarterbacks.  There have been few better under pressure than Aaron Rodgers.  Packers, in a close one.

Texans @ Patriots — The last time Houston came to Foxboro, they were annihilated.  Bill Belichick did what he consistently does better than any coach I can recall, which is neutralize whatever the other team does well.  Gary Kubiak seems to be a fine coach, but his team’s performance in that Patriots game, and the matches since, has demonstrated what appears to be brainlock.  He doesn’t adjust his game plan to respond to what is happening on the field.  Houston relies on a ferocious pass rush, but aside from that they have significant vulnerabilities.  They didn’t have an answer for New England’s play-option offense, while the Patriots were able to take away Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, as well as pressuring Schaub with their Pro-Bowl battering ram Vince Wilfork.  I don’t expect the score to be as disparate as last time, but I would be shocked if the result were any different.  New England convincingly at home.

Seahawks @ Falcons — Seattle is the only Wild Card to survive, and they have shown great resilience and confidence for a young team.  They really aren’t weak anywhere, and rookie Russell Wilson has been resourceful and patient leading their offence.  The Falcons have been building to this point for several years, and this team is also solid across the board, without any apparent weaknesses.  It will be fun watching Julio Jones going up against Richard Sherman.  My feeling is that this game could go either way, but I’ll take Atlanta at home because Matt Ryan isn’t a rookie (see Packers @ 49ers above).  Falcons in a fierce battle.

Prayers out for RGIII and others who sustained serious injuries this season.  Enjoy the games!

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