Former NFL GM & current 105.7 The Fan host Vinny Cerrato ranks the playoff teams into his “Dirty Dozen”.
1- Green Bay– (15-1 bye) everything goes through the cold of Green Bay for the NFC playoffs. The offensive line must get healthy; solidify the tackle Position and Protect Aaron Rodgers.
2- New Orleans (13-3 Vs Detroit) Drew Brees is on fire and facing a less than fierce Lions pass defense, while their own defense is starting to play better
3- Baltimore (12-4 bye) Balance is the key for success. The Veteran players needed the rest they will get this week. The bye week is more about health than preparation, due to the fact that teams are not aware of who they will be facing in the divisional round.
4- New England (13-3 bye) The question is can the 31st ranked defense in the NFL make plays in the playoffs? The Pats can’t fall behind early like they did in their previous two games against non-playoff teams.
5- San Francisco (13-3 bye) Defense is the key to success for the 49ers. With the bye week, the already stout defense will get their leader Patrick Willis back in the lineup. They MUST have Frank Gore play well and control the clock and just let Alex Smith manage the game.
6- Pittsburgh (12-4 At Denver) Big Ben’s health is a key. The Steelers have not been able to score many points since he injured his ankle against Cleveland, but with Pittsburgh playing against the Denver Tebows, they should be able to win the game on the strength of their defense.
7- Giants (9-7 vs. Atlanta) The Giants have now won two big games in a row so momentum is on their side. The Defense is playing strong, and getting more help with Osi Umenyiora coming back from injuries. Eli in the playoffs will need more help from the run game than he got in the regular season. Victor Cruz is a full blown star this season, and must touch the ball.
8- Houston (10-6 vs. Cincinnati) The question with the Texans is how far can rookie quarterback T.J. Yates take them? The Texans strength is their run game and their #2 ranked defense. Andre Johnson will be healthy for the first time in a long time and that could get the crowd riled. This is the Texans first ever playoff game and they get to play it at home, crowd noise could play a factor in this game.
9- Atlanta (10-6 At New York Giants) It’s all about offense. Can they make enough plays on offense? Can they score enough points? Can an indoor dome team be successful playing in the cold of New York?
10- Cincinnati (9-7 At Houston) How will your young offensive players react in their first playoff game? Not only is it their first Playoff game, but it is an away playoff game. The defense will need to stop the strong run game of Houston and make rookie T.J. Yates beat them through the air.
11- Detroit (10-6 At New Orleans) The opposite of Atlanta, its all about the defense in Detroit. The Lions just gave up over 40 points to a back up quarterback in Green Bay, and now face Drew Brees. Detroit will need to find its run game in this matchup to keep Brees on the sideline, control the clock and win this game.
12- Denver (8-8 vs. Pittsburgh) This team can not throw the ball. On Anybody. They lost their last three and made the playoffs by default.