We are finally here ladies and gentlemen! It’s time for the NFL playoffs. I’ll start with the NFC Wild Card games.
(3) Philadelphia Eagles; 10-6 vs. (6) New Orleans Saints; 11-5
The division winner Eagles have been a lot of fun to watch this year. Philly started 1-3 and ended up winning 7 out of there last 8 games including there Week 17 match-up with Dallas for the Division. Winning 6 more games then last year, was due, in large part to all the personal changes for Philly all over the field. Head Coach Chip Kelly brought his system from Oregon to the pro’s and found a QB, 2nd year man Nick Foles who fit the scheme perfectly. Foles sets NFL record for best TD-INT ratio in single season; 27 TD’s to 2 INT’s. This game will, presumably, be about the offenses. The Eagles were second in the NFL in Yards per game, while New Orleans was fourth. Philly was first in total rushing yards while New Orleans was second, only behind the record breaking Broncos, in passing yards. The Eagles also finished fourth in total points while the Saints finished tenth. Drew Brees had his fourth 5,000 yard passing season, nobody else has ever had more than one. One significant difference between the 2 high powered teams recognized for the offenses, the Saints have played very good defense this season. They gave up the fourth fewest points in the league (304) and fourth in opponents total yards per game (305.7) vice-versa too the Eagles who gave up the fourth most opponents total yards per game (392.7). Have I forgot to mention LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy was the league leader in rushing yards, had over 2,000 total yards from scrimmage and set the Philly record for yards from scrimmage? Well then, there’s that.
This is going to be a tough matchup with a lot of different dynamics going into it. Two of the best offensive minded Head Coaches in football squaring up, one of the best pass defenses in football against the best running game the NFL had to offer this year, a new QB on the block who had a 7 TD game earlier in the season versus one who’s never won a road playoff game but has a Super Bowl ring. Who knows what the weather in Philly is going to be and if it’s snowy, I think the game will be won in the trenches and who can run the ball the best.
One thing to note – Philly (4-4 at home) / New Orleans (3-5 on the road)
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
(4) Green Bay Packers; 8-7-1 vs. (5) San Francisco 49ers; 12-4
Oh boy, another great Wild Card matchup we have on our hands. All the more intriguing now that arguably the games best QB is back, healthy, and winning games on 4th downs to win a division. That would be the bad man himself, Aaron Rodgers, who just so happened to convert three 4th down conversions on the final drive of the game, avoid an all out blitz on the final offensive play for Green Bay and find Randall Cobb deep down field for a Touchdown, yeah that Aaron Rodgers. But he’s not the only one playing in this game. Green Bay’s offense, along with San Francisco’s are both almost back to full strength. Both teams missing guys to IR; Finley for GB and Manningham for SF but the last few weeks have been weeks that both teams have gotten healthy. Green Bay, most notably, Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb and for San Fran Michael Crabtree just adding to the 49ers passing attack. The 49ers defense was stout, once again this season finishing giving up the third least points (272); one of only THREE teams who gave up less than 300 points all season, and the fourth least yards per game (316.9). San Fran’s defense was also second in the entire league in giveaway/takeaway’s with a take-away difference of 14. In contrast, the Packers defense is a liability. They’re in the bottom half of the whole league in most major defensive categories. The Packers don’t really turn the ball over that much either on defense so there game plan is really heavily relied on there offense.
The key to this game in my honest opinion, is Number 7 in red, Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers ranked 30th in Passing yards per game at 183 per game and Kaep completed an average 58% of his throws this season. Granted, Colin is going into the playoffs playing solid football. He hasn’t turned the ball over in his last three games (6 TD’s, 1 rushing) has completed over 60% of his passes in all 3 of those games and has a QB Rating of 108 or higher in all three. Last year, postseason included, Colin played some great football, which we all thought would translate into this regular season, but he’s been nothing that flashy as all the media expected him to be. For Green Bay, they need a healthy Eddie Lacy. Lacy has been a beast, more than likely to win the Rookie of the Year, and would only help Aaron Rodgers if Eddie was eating good. The site will be Lambeau field and I do not believe the Packers fans will leave unhappy.
Pick: Green Bay Packers