Friday, January 7, 2011

Put Up Or Shut Up!!!

AFC Wildcard Playoff
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 - Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

Time for Ryan, Jets to put up or shut up!
Rex Ryan and the New York Jets can't do anymore talking now.  Saturday is coming and the final word is what the final score says.  You're not gonna get a win using bravado and braggadocio in this game; not against Peyton Manning.  The Jets (11-5) have to stick to the gameplan -- run the ball affectively on offense and make Manning uncomfortable in the pocket on defense -- because they had Indy on the ropes in last year's AFC Championship game before getting picked apart by the Colts offense.  It's a new year but don't let the un-Colt-like 10-6 record fool you, this is still a strong team.  They struggled because of the lack of a running game.  In the last game the Colts lost -- a 38-35 OT loss to the Dallas Cowboys, in which Manning threw 4 INTs for the second week in a row -- the leading rusher for Indy was Javarris James, who had 18 yards on six carries.  The Colts as a team only attempted 17 rushes.  In the last four games of the season -- wins against the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders -- Indy averaged 30 rush attempts per game.  Those weren't the best teams but it was a solid effort by backup running backs Donald Brown, Dominick Rhodes, and James; and now starter Joseph Addai is healthy.  The Jets and Ryan will have to bring their 'A' game if they want all that talk to amount to a victory Saturday.

Pick:  Colts, 31-24
Key to game for Jets:  Don't let Mark Sanchez get in a shootout with Manning if (or when) the Colts score quickly; be patient and run the offense.
Key to game for Colts:  Take the air out of the Jets defense by attacking corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie early and often, much like the New England Patriots did in Week 13.

NFC Wildcard Playoff
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Saturday, January 8th, 2011 - Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

New Orleans won't need Ivory against Seattle
Safety Malcolm Jenkins (knee), tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle), linebacker Danny Clark (hamstring) and defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (knee) have all been declared out by the New Orleans Saints (11-5) for Saturday's NFC Wildcard Playoff against the Seattle Seahawks.  Running backs Chris Ivory (led team with 716 yards rushing) and Pierre Thomas (team's 2nd leading rusher) were both put on injured reserve, making them inactive for the remainder of the postseason.  On the other hand, Matt Hasselbeck is returning as starting quarterback for Seattle (7-9) after missing the last three games. The Saints and Seahawks have played already this season; back in Week 11.  Hasselbeck had his best game of the year, throwing for 366 yards and a touchdown. . . Seattle lost 34-19.  Despite the injuries, don't expect much to change.

Pick: Saints, 37-16
Key to game for Seahawks:  Take chances on defense.  A positive turnover margin will balance the playing field for the home-dogs.
Key to game for Saints:  Be ready to play from kickoff.  Seattle will be confident on their home field if its still a close game late.

AFC Wildcard Playoff
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 9th, 2011 - Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Bowe led the NFL with 15 TD rec.
I really like the young talent that the Kansas City Chiefs have on the roster.  Matt Cassel (27 TDs, 7 INTs), Jamaal Charles (91.7 rush ypg, 2nd in NFL), Dwayne Bowe (led NFl with 15 TD receptions), Dexter McCluster (1,009 all-purpose yards), tight end Tony Moeaki, linebacker Derrick Johnson, and safety Eric Berry are all 28 or younger.  But the NFL playoffs aren't about youth.  It takes a battle tested team to move on and the Chiefs regular season schedule this year was softer than tissue paper.   K.C. (10-6)  has only played two teams that are in the current playoff picture -- Indy and Seattle -- and are 1-1.  And you already know which one of those teams the win came against.  Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens (12-4), led by league O.G. Ray Lewis, have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints this year.

Pick:  Ravens, 24-10
Key to game for Chiefs:  Slowing down Ravens running back Ray Rice, who is averaging 107.3 rush ypg over the last three games.
Key to game for Ravens:  Put 8 in the box and force Cassel to throw, see if  Ed Reed (8 INTs, 1st in NFL) can't get to a few.

NFC Wildcard Playoff
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, January 9th, 2011 - Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

Matthews will try to contain Vick.
Probably the most pivotal moment in the long journey back to the NFL for Mike Vick was the 2010 season opener for the Philadelphia Eagles against the Green Bay Packers. Starting quarterback Kevin Kolb went down at halftime and Vick took over.  He electrified the Philly fans with ankle-breaking runs and bullet passes -- the same way he used to do in the ATL for the Falcons fans -- even though the Eagles lost the game, 27-20.  Coach Andy Reid announced that Vick would remain the starter even when Kolb (concussion) was healthy.  Vick missed four games due to injury since taking over that day but has remained the man since Week 9, leading Philly to a 6-2 record as a starter, compiling monster stats (3,018 passing yards, 676 rushing yards, 21 TDs passing to only 6 INTs, 9 TDs rushing), and has put himself in the discussion along with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for NFL MVP.  Vick has been banged up though and teams are learning how to control him.  In losses against NFC North Division opponents Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, Vick was sacked four times and six times, respectively, while attempting a season high 44 passes against the Bears and almost equalled that (43 attempts) against the Pack.(stats).  The Green Bay Packers, also of the NFC North, will look to copy that formula with players on defense like potential 2010 Defensive Player of the Year lineback Clay Matthews and 2009 Defensive P.O.Y. cornerback Charles WoodsonAaron Rodgers has put up big numbers in the playoffs before but has yet to win a game.  Despite all that Vick has been through, he may be the hungriest player on the field.

Pick: Eagles, 44-38
Key to game for Packers:  Containg Vick and running back LeSean McCoy.  The more effective McCoy is the more dangerous Vick becomes.
Key to game for Eagles:  Don't give up the big play.  Rodgers and his talented slew of receivers can strike in a hurry.

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