Contrary to the beliefs of some New York Jets fans out there, the world and the NFL season did not end this past Sunday. The playoffs kick off this weekend, with a particularly weak AFC field that does make the Jets missing the playoffs sting a little more. Here is a quick look at the four games –
Cincinnati at Houston – Pretty bizarre to think that the Bengals are in the playoffs when most people ranked them as the 32nd best team in the league heading into the season. Remember how they looked in the pre-season against the Jets? Who would have thought? Regardless, they have a tough defense, a young quarterback who isn’t afraid to put the ball down the field, and a monster at receiver in A.J. Green. Houston is down to their third quarterback in rookie T.J. Yates and has struggled down the stretch. This game is a complete toss-up, yet Jets fans should be rooting for the Texans. Why? You want Pittsburgh (after they dismantle Denver) going to New England in round two to end our beloved Patriots season. If the Bengals win, they are heading to a blow out loss in New England, which nobody wants to watch.
Detroit at New Orleans – Even though we all remember picking the Saints to easily win wild-card weekend last year and watch them lose a shocker to Seattle, it is hard to imagine the same thing happening two years in a row. The Saints are nearly unbeatable in their dome and the Lions are one of the teams they smacked around in it during the regular season. Detroit’s only chance is to beat New Orleans at their own game in a shootout and I just can’t see Drew Brees coming up short here.
Atlanta at Giants – The best match-up of the weekend. Atlanta has the weapons to take advantage of a suspect Giants secondary with Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez but can they protect Matt Ryan, who has never won a playoff game, long enough so he can get the ball out? Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have turned into arguably the best big play combo in the league and will put up points on an inconsistent Falcons defense. This should be a high scoring, close game that comes down to the final possession.
Pittsburgh at Denver – Whether you want to embrace it or not, Tim Tebow is not a good NFL quarterback and the Broncos offense is a joke. The only way this game is close is if Denver’s defense puts together an epically good performance.