Reporting Scott Garceau
It is the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are great, time with family and friends and presents that might even fit. For us football fans right here, right now is hard to beat. Last weekend and again this weekend we’ve got playoff doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday. It doesn’t get any better than that, unless YOUR team is one of those still alive for a trip to Dallas and Super Bowl XLV!
While the real world dreams of spending January vacationing on some exotic sun drenched island, sicko’s like us would rather shiver in near zero wind chill in places like Pittsburgh and Foxboro. My exotic island of choice this weekend is Pittsburgh. So here we go, 8 will be reduced to the final 4 by late Sunday night.
–Baltimore (13-4) at Pittsburgh (12-4) Saturday, 4:30, CBS
What the heck can I tell you about this game that you don’t already know. How ’bout these teams don’t like each other and often play close games. Let’s try this…Joe Flacco is the only quarterback in NFL history to start and win games in each of his first 3 seasons. John Harbaugh and Barry Switzer are the only 2 coaches in NFL history to win playoff games in each of their first 3 seasons.
Ben Roethlisberger is 8-2 in the postseason. Both teams have gone 14 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, second to only the Redskins who have a 17 game streak. The Steelers have allowed only 62.8 yards rushing per game that’s 5th best in NFL history.
The Ravens have an edge in the kicking game. Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff and punter Sam Koch might be the best combo in the league and could be the difference in a close game. Terrell Suggs speed on the edge is a mis-match for the Steeler offensive tackles. The Steelers know that and will have to commit extra bodies to keep “Sizzle” off of Big Ben.
The Steelers advantages? Start with home field, Heinz Field crowd noise and all the other good things that made it HOME SWEET! They were also resting last week while the Ravens were taking care of business in KC. While the Ravens were building momentum with a win, they were also adding wear and tear to bodies that have battled through a long season. And they traveled to the Midwest returning to play another road game on a short week. And then there’s the Quarterbacks. Joe Flacco is a good one who lead a late 4th quarter drive to win in Pittsburgh earlier this season, but he’s short on experience compared to Roethlisberger who’s earned his reputation as perhaps the best big game QB in the game. I’ll guess another one decided by 3-4 points, maybe they’ll even debut the new overtime playoff rules. Best guess…Steelers 20, Ravens 17.
–Green Bay (11-6) at Atlanta (13-3) Saturday, 8:00, Fox Sports
The Falcons are the top seed in the NFC, the Packers are in the playoffs for the 13th time in the last 18 years. This game features the 2 top rated quarterbacks in the NFC and budding superstars in Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. The teams played in week 12 in Atlanta. The Falcons won 20-17 on a 47-yard field goal with 9 seconds left. Rodgers has 7 TD passes in his two career playoff games, Ryan has a 20-2 home record. Roddy White set a Falcons record and lead the NFL with 115 catches. The Packers weak running game got a big boost in last weeks win over the Eagles with rookie James Starks running for 123 yards. Very good teams, I think the winner gets to Dallas. Best guess….Packers 27, Falcons 20
–Seattle (8-9) at (Chicago 11-5) Sunday 1:00, Fox
The biggest game in the history of an 8-9 team? Damn right! The Seahawks playing with all that house money bring their David act to Soldier Field. Last week they shocked me and the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints. Pete Carroll can sell his guys on a win in Chicago, they did it this season downing the Bears 23-20 in week 6.
But lets get real Pete, nice ride but take your 8-10 season and rah-rah pep talks back to Seattle and get ready for next year. The Bears defense and special special-teamer Devin Hester carry the day. Unless Jay Cutler implodes the Bears will be a win away from a Super Bowl Shuffle remix. Best guess…..Bears 24, Seahawks 14.
– NY Jets (12-5) at New England (14-2) Sunday, 4:30, CBS
The NFL made this the last game of the weekend so Rex and friends would have more time to talk about it. The lead up to kick-off is kind of a blend of WWE Wrestling and the Jerry Springer show. My ears are bleeding can we please play some football!!! The Jets took down Peyton Manning can they hit the Daily Double and K.O. Tom Brady?
Not if the Brady Bunch play like they did in December when they shot down the Jets 45-3. The Patriots have won 8 straight and won them by an average of 20 points a game. There are plenty of reasons why the Patriots are the hottest team in the league. The Belichick-Brady combo doesn’t hurt and neither does their amazing +28 turnover ratio, the best in the NFL. The Patriots simply don’t beat themselves. Rex Ryan will throw the kitchen sink at Brady and that’s a chess match that’ll more fun to watch than talk about. Best guess….. Patriots 30, Jets 17
Last week 3 of 4 road teams won, this week home field advantage returns with 3 home wins?