MVS NFL BLOG: Power Rankings (Wild Card Weekend)
SANDY & LINDSAY RANK THE PLAYOFFS! WILD CARD WEEKEND! Twelve teams left standing…and our ladies rank ’em for you. Let us know what you think about the playoff teams and post season rankings as well. Enjoy! – Bulldog
1. New England Patriots- Well, they finished off the season on an 8 game winning streak after they demolished the Fins 38-7 Sunday. Coming into the postseason ranked #1 overall, I’d be very surprised if this team didn’t coast thru the playoffs and into Dallas February 6th. Dare I say it, but these Patriots are playing better ball than the Patriots of the early 2000’s.
2. Atlanta Falcons- They redeemed themselves this week with a beating over Carolina 31-10. And thank goodness, because I’ve been pulling for Matty Ice and Michael turner since the beginning of the season. These Falcons are legit this year and I look forward to them making it into the NFC Championship at the very least. Granted they’ve got a tough road ahead, but at least they get a first round bye to rest and work on game plans for 2 resilient teams in Philly and/or Green Bay.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers- They beat out the Ravens in the division and there’s a reason: despite both teams having solid defenses, the Steelers offense is much more productive and efficient. Hence a 41-9 beat down on the Brownies Sunday afternoon! They’ve won 6 of their last 7 and get a week off before hosting either their arch nemesis Baltimore Ravens or KC. Something tells me regardless who they face, a particular safety named Troy Polamalu is sure to give that wild card winner a run for their money.
4. Baltimore Ravens- The purple birds may be on a 4 game winning streak right now, but the fact remains- they only beat the Bengals by less than a touchdown at home. As mentioned above, their offense is very sketch at the moment and I just don’t trust them! Do you? All you Raven fans better be extremely thankful for Ed Reed being healthy and making play after play for your defense. We’ll see how far he gets you guys in the playoffs.
5. Chicago Bears- I feel like I have to put them here simply because they have a first round bye and an 11-5 record. Not really sure what to say after such a defensive defeat by their division rival Green Bay Packers on Sunday. But the fact of the matter is, they lost. They didn’t even score a touchdown. Above all else, they’re lucky they get a week to prepare before facing the Saints or Seahawks. Mark my words, Jay Cutler and his schizophrenic tendencies WILL be the reason that the Bears don’t advance in 2 weeks.
6. Indianapolis Colts- The Sheriff has lead the Colts to 4 consecutive wins and it doesn’t appear that this streak is coming to a halt anytime soon. Peyton went thru a slump in the middle of the season, but better then than NOW. He’s back to his elite status and hopefully the Colts can knock off the super suspect Jets in the wild card round this week.
7. New Orleans Saints- After coming off so strong against Atlanta a week ago, they go ahead and let the Bucs sneak in a win to finish out the season. Pretty sure Drew Brees and his 22 interceptions can be thanked for that. On the contrary, this team is very well-rounded; the fact they actually have to travel to Seattle for their wild card match up is absolutely ridiculous.
8. Kansas City Chiefs- Though they completely blew it this week against Oakland, they locked in their playoff spot a week ago and host the Ravens in the upcoming wild card week. Matt Cassel appears to be hit or miss as of late, but the Chiefs still have the #1 running game in the league. Both teams got tough defenses and big names, so this wild card match up promises to be nothing short of entertaining.
9. Green Bay Packers- They handed the Bears their first division loss in a tight game this week, and in return they get a playoff berth. Good for them. There’s no denying that this team is legit; Aaron Rodgers is a stud, Clay Matthews is a sacking machine. Let’s just hope they keep the pace heading into Philly this week. Rodgers vs. Vick is about as epic a quarterback battle as it gets.
10. Philadelphia Eagles- After looking as elite as they have all season, they sure as hell finished the 2010 season on an ugly note, eh? They lost to the Cowboys, who are equally as bad as my poor Deadskins. Of course, it’s a very different story considering Michael Vick didn’t play. If any team was to go from playing WITH him to playing WITHOUT him, they’d surely suffer at least a bit. Then again, he had an atrocious performance against the Vikes a week ago as well. As much as I despise the dirty birds, I’d like to see Vick come out strong against the Pack and for this wild card game to be a fight to the finish.
11. New York Jets- As mentioned previously, I don’t like the Jets for countless reasons. I don’t care that they crushed the Bills or that they squeaked out a win over the Steelers or even that their defense is solid. They still got their asses handed to them by the Patriots, they lost an embarrassing battle to the Dolphins, and their passing offense SUCKS. Let’s see how that D stands up to Peyton and the boys in their wild card match up next week. If they even remotely prove themselves worthy, maybe then I will cut them some slack.
12. Seattle Seahawks- Did they really beat out the Rams for the #6 seed in the NFC? What an ugly ass game! I can’t even believe either of these teams was given an opportunity and they just further embarrassed themselves. This game is the epitome of the NFL needing to come up with a new seeding system for the postseason. The fact that the Saints actually have to play out there after being a hair from winning the division is straight blasphemy in my opinion.
Lindsay picks the Wild Card round:
Indy over New York: I don’t care how good the Jets defense is; unless the Sheriff completely implodes this week, there is zippy chance the Jets escape this match-up alive. And if they do by some miraculous chance, well then the Patriots are simply gonna wax that ass again. Because the Colts could stand up to the Pats- the Jets, simply cannot. End of story.
Kansas City over Baltimore: I’m not gonna write off the Ravens completely, but I just got a feeling Flacco and his O-line are gonna have some trouble with Tamba Hali. Just sayin. If they can find a way to protect Flacco and get the ball moving, then anything’s possible. But if Matt Cassel can get momentum against the 21st ranked pass D, well then… ballgame!
Green Bay over Philly: This game will be the most entertaining, intriguing and not to mention, the most TELLING of all the wild card games. The result could really go either way. As mentioned above, two elite quarterbacks head to head will always be a show. Throw in the fact that we have two stellar defenses as well, and this promises to be one hell of a game. I choose Green Bay here simply because they are on a roll right now, coming off an important but confident win against the Bears. That little boost could be all the Pack needs to run thru a disgruntled Philly and head into Atlanta. But if Vick is back to how he looked earlier this season, well… good riddance, Pack.
New Orleans over Seattle: The only thing the Seahawks really have going for them this week is the fact they generally play well at home. But regardless, I think the Saints defense is about to have a field day. Anything is possible in the game of football, no doubt about it; but Seattle is really gonna need a miracle to try and get past the first round. It’s some bs (if you ask me) that they even got into the playoffs to begin with.
1. New England Patriots—Did anyone see the Tom Brady Halloween costumes this year? They basically consisted of Brady jerseys and pink tutus. Amusing as they were, especially when paired with knee highs, the fact is that Brady is good, better than good, he’s great and for another year the Pats are following suit. I’m not saying they’re infallible, even when they went undefeated 2 seasons ago they lost in the Super Bowl, but they’ve got the best record in the league at 14-2, arguably the best coach (not the most congenial, but who cares?) and despite a few injuries (Welker, Branch, and Hernandez) they’re primed to yet again go deep into the playoffs.
2. Atlanta Falcons—Did anyone honestly think that Carolina was going to give Atlanta a run for their money? With the Falcons sitting atop the NFC and Carolina with the worst record in the NFL this was pretty much a lock. Atlanta, like the Patriots are the favorites to go deep into the postseason, the Matty Ice (sounds like the name of a cheap beer) helmed offense converted 7 out of 10 3rd down conversions and overall Michael Turner ran for over 100 yards again this season and scored 3 touchdowns. The reason their not ranked at #1? Aside from the fact that the Pats have a better record…they beat the Panthers, no surprise, no competition.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers—And the Cleveland Browns get clobbered yet again by the Pittsburgh Steelers, I mean handled. In their last 22 meetings the Steelers have prevailed 20 times. And since I’m writing this on Monday night, I know that Eric “Man-Genius” is out of Cleveland. With a defeat like Sunday’s and a sorry excuse for a season yet again he should be. But, alas the #3 spot is about Pittsburgh: Roethlisberger threw for 280 yards and 2 TD’s; The Steelers scored on each of their 4 opening possessions, and Troy Polamalu is back, Steelers win 41-9, and clinch the AFC North; not to mention Aaron Smith is expected back for the postseason. Expect some dog fights people.
4. New Orleans Saints—Yeah, I know, the Saints lost to the Tampa Bay Bucs 23-13 on Sunday, at home, not exactly the statement you want to make going into the postseason. But, the Bucs aren’t a bunch of slouches and were looking to finish strong. The fact is the reason New Orleans is at #4 this week is because they’re playing Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, plain and simple. Reggie Bush rushed for 70 yards and received for 55. They rested some of their starters, including Drew Brees when only behind by 7 points, which is expected, as the Saints have been plagued by injury all season, including week 17 with Jeremy Shockey, Marques Colston, Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas, and Malcolm Jenkins. Ivory, Thomas, and Jenkins starting but leaving the game early.
5. New York Jets—They played Buffalo, a really bad division rival and they won, there’s no ticker tape parade for beating the Bills, but the Jets should feel good about annihilating a team this week. Point blank, a lot of other teams couldn’t get it done, or just barely. Sexy Rexy had a few choice words after their 38-7 victory: “If someone is going to beat us, then they must be really good.” Don’t put your foot in your mouth too soon, there Ryan, (pun intended of course), you’re playing Indy this week. I have a feeling that Manning might have a few looks your boys can’t handle. Brunell threw for 110 yards and 2 TD’s, McKnight ran for 158. Sanchez rested along with LT, Cromartie, and Revis. They looked good for having their second string in.
6. Baltimore Ravens—A thank you card is in order to the Cincinnati Bengals and namely Carson Palmer for Sunday’s efforts when it came to turning the ball over. Cinci did a bang up job of forking the ball over to 2 of the biggest ball hogs in the NFL, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Lewis recovered 2 fumbles and Reed picked off Palmer twice, both on potentially dangerous drives for the Ravens. Instead of passing the ball into the end zone on the last play of the game, the Bengals down by 6, Palmer decides to loft one over his receiver’s head, high and away out of bounds. Maybe a nice box of chocolates? Flowers? The Baltimore defense, for as much crap as they’ve been getting lately, are still pretty good, but can the offense at least convert some 3rd downs to keep them off the field? This was yet another “ugly” win for the Ravens, but they’re 12-4 and they’re in it.
7. Green Bay Packers—As many people like to say (especially in sports talk radio) when a team gets “hot” headed into the playoffs, they’re a dangerous team. For this reason, the Packers are high on the list this week…that and I (along with some other smart folks) think that great defenses win Championships and that’s what Green Bay had on Sunday. Oh, and they beat Chicago. Woodson and Matthews made Cutler nervous all night and it showed. Green Bay sacked Cutler (a QB I’m not totally sold on yet) a total of 6 times and picked him off twice. This game was a defensive struggle from start to finish and just 1 TD was the determining factor. Green Bay may have more of a shot than once thought…just hold onto the ball, receivers. Rodgers likes completing passes.
8. Indianapolis—Peyton Manning threw for 264 yards and 2 TD’s and Indy wins 23-20, nothing shocking, other than the fact that Tennessee hung around for as long as they did. Perhaps what no one was expecting was Indy’s defense to hold the Titans’ Chris Johnson (or Predator as I like to call him…with the dreads and everything? See a resemblance?) to only 39 rushing yards. Indy has gotten better as the season has gone on despite having 17 players on injured reserve. Joseph Addai is back and running effectively which has given Indy another dimension heading to the playoffs.
9. Philadelphia Eagles—The Eagles at 10-6 sat their starters against a Cowboys team that barely took the win. Dallas won a close game 14-13…and now Jason Garrett’s fate as the head coach of the Cowboys is in Jerry Jones’ hands, anything else on the line? Not really. Andy Reid sat his starters for the usual reasons this late in the season which is fine, but aside from this game, Philly showed some reason for concern the week before in their losing effort against Minnesota. Michael Vick (who seemed off all night) and his Eagles lost 24-14 against a rookie QB in Webb and the down-trodden Vikings. The Eagles seemed to underestimate a team shrouded in controversy, a team that had something to prove and it got the best of them. Not the best look going into the postseason.
10. Chicago Bears—So, who cares if they weren’t playing for anything, as Brian Urlacher suggested after their 10-3 loss to the Packers on Sunday? The fact is that the starters were in, and despite sloppy play from both teams, the Packers prevailed. Maybe that’s the attitude that the Bears went into the game with and maybe that’s why they lost. Ever heard of momentum Brian Urlacher? Or maybe that’s as big of a myth as saying that the Bears are better than the Patriots? Excuses. The Bears revealed some weaknesses in Sunday’s game, mainly their O-line as Cutler got sacked 6 times.
11. Kansas City Chiefs—The Oakland Raiders humiliated the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium by 21 points in week 17. Yes, the Chiefs are going to the playoffs…it is what it is. The Chiefs’ offensive line got exposed and Cassell only completed 11/33 passes and threw 2 picks. Did they forget they’re going into the playoffs next week? The only reason they’re not last in this ranking is because the only team behind them is Seattle, yes, Seattle.
12. Seattle Seahawks—Guess what everybody! A team that is 7-9 is in the playoffs. Awesome. The Giants are out, Tampa Bay is out, but the Seattle Seahawks get a shot at the Championship…I mean it’s a long, long shot, but still a shot…a long shot in the dark. Enough said. NFC West=FAIL.
Sandy’s Wild Card Weekend Playoff Predictions:
New York Jets @ Indy—The Jets’ defensive line gives Manning hard time in this repeat of the AFC Championship game from last year. But Indy is running the ball and stopping the run as of late, they’re no longer a one-dimensional team. I truly want the Jets to win, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Indy wins…unfortunately.
Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs—This Baltimore team has been in the playoffs before, they’re veterans, and they’re going against a team that is not only young but probably lacking in confidence after getting blown out by a non-contender last Sunday. Suggs and Johnson get to Cassell forcing him to make some bad decisions, enter Ed Reed. Baltimore should take this one, despite going into a tough environment at Arrowhead.
Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles—I didn’t like what I saw from Vick and the Eagles against Minnesota and despite just a lackluster win over the Bears on Sunday, I think Aaron Rodgers takes the spotlight in this match. I like Green Bay.
New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks—I know I’m not the only one that’s disgusted by the fact that Seattle gets a home game in the playoffs. Qwest Field is a hike for a New Orleans team that is “dome-friendly” and a little beat up, but the Seahawks don’t have a prayer.