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Finally, the NFL playoffs are here…here is how TOJ sees the 12 teams ranking heading into Wild-Card Weekend, along a few more thoughts on Jets/Colts and the other match-ups –
1. New England Patriots – The unquestioned favorite to win the Super Bowl, New England couldn’t be any hotter at the moment. I have to think the Patriots would love to see the Jets coming back into their building and will be hoping to avoid the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round.
2. Atlanta Falcons – The other number one seed will have a tough road to reach the Super Bowl, likely starting with either New Orleans or Green Bay.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers – A much needed week off for them to rest injured players. You have to wonder if their offensive line can hold up for a Super Bowl run.
4. Chicago Bears – The least talked about team with a bye as a serious Super Bowl contender. However, Chicago will be tough to beat in their building if Jay Cutler is on his game and their pass rush remains active.
5. Baltimore Ravens – Ray Rice has picked it up over the last month and they will need him leading the way on offense, if they want to win the road games necessary to reach the Super Bowl.
6. New Orleans Saints – The defending champs won’t have their home field advantage from a year ago but are still a team nobody in the NFC wants to see coming into their building.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – Everybody is a little down on the Eagles from the previous few weeks but they are too explosive on offense to ignore as a very legitimate Super Bowl contender.
8. Green Bay Packers – They are playing well at the right time and are going to be a handful for any team they face. Yet, being so one dimensional on offense could haunt them this time of the year.
9. Indianapolis Colts – Nobody in the AFC South took advantage of a down year from the Colts who still found a way to 10 wins and a division title.
10. New York Jets – They actually are a lower seed than they were a year before despite having 2 more wins.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – All the makings of a one and done team.
12. Seattle Seahawks – 7-9, yuck.
New Orleans at Seattle – You could talk about the long trip New Orleans has to take and how loud Seattle’s crowd is all you want but at the end of the day, the Saints are a significantly better team in every way imaginable. It is honestly hard to see this game even being entertaining into the second half. However, this is the NFL and crazier things have happened than a 7-9 team potentially led by Charlie Whitehurst knocking off Drew Brees and the defending champs.
Jets at Indianapolis – It is nice to see the early overwhelming confidence of the football world in the Colts. The Jets fit better into the underdog role anyway. This match-up isn’t sitting as badly with me as it did a few weeks ago, especially after watching the Colts against the Titans yesterday. It would be a big step in Rex Ryan’s coaching career if he could knock off Peyton Manning in playoff game. I do know this, one and done is absolutely considered a failure for the Jets season with all the hype around the team.
Baltimore at Kansas City – I have a very tough time seeing the Chiefs being ready to knock off an experienced team like Ravens, despite being at home. It is too easy to picture Ray Rice having a big day and Baltimore’s defense rising to the occasion to limit Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe’s production.
Green Bay at Philadelphia – It is between this and Jets/Colts as the best game of the weekend. This should be a fun one, where there won’t be a shortage of points. I could really see this going either way, especially if Green Bay’s blitz gets after Mike Vick early and often.