*Cue the Jim Mora tape*
Everybody laugh because it is still hysterical a decade later.
It is that time of year when the twelve best NFL teams (or in this case, the 10 best plus the better than average Chargers and the mediocre Cardinals.)
The first round of the playoffs will feature four games, three of which will be quite competitive.
Beginning in the AFC, it is hard to imagine that the Baltimore Ravens at 11-5 are the #6 seed. But they will open on the road against the Miami Dolphins, a team they beat soundly early on 27-13. Since that time, the Raven defense has improved and Joe Flacco has matured. The dolphins have certainly gotten better over the same time period. But unless Chad Pennington is perfect and can pick apart the Ravens in the short passing game, this could be a long afternoon for the home team.
Then you have the Chargers and Colts going at it. On the face, an 8-8 team going against an 11-5 team, especially when the latter beat the former at home just five weeks ago, seems like an easy prediction. But not so fast. After starting 3-4 the colts ran off 9 straight wins. Of those 9, only three were decent wins. They managed to beat the Chargers, Steelers, and Patriots by a combined total of 10 points. Impressive, but hardly insurmountable totals. In the last five weeks, the colts have sharpened their playoff skills by playing bottom-dwellers such as the Browns, Bengals, Jaguars, Lions, and a Titan team resting its starters. Bottom line, both of these teams come in streaking, but the chargers have been fighting for their playoff lives for four weeks. The Colts have been on cruise control. This game is in San Diego. The chargers offensive line is back. I am going to boldy assert a Chargers "upset" by 3 of the colts.
Philadelphia and Minnesota will be an interesting game. The eagles defense has been great of late. However, their greatest strength seems to be in players like Brian Dawkins, who will not be primarily responsible for stopping Adrian Peterson. However, Jim Johnson's various blitz schemes will likely prove too much for the young Tevaris Jackson and Donovan McNabb's leadership and resurgent offense should prove too much for the Vikings. I take the Eagles by 6.
Finally, there is the formality of the Cardinals and Falcons. I think I'm a bit too kind to say what needs to be said about the Cardinals, but frankly I would be shocked if they beat the Falcons, who are clicking on every cylinder. Arizona, according to a team press release, has not even managed to sell out the game as of yet. What does it say when your fans don't support you? This team barely managed to get over the .500 mark. They limped down the stretch. Their season is the mirror opposite of the Falcons. Falcons by 10 in this game.