SATURDAY JANUARY 8 2011
New Orleans Saints (11-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-9, NFC West Champions)
5:30pm - NBC, CTV
"The defending champs will be on the road in the first round but they can hardly complain about the opponent." - NFL.com
Week 17: New Orleans lost at home to Tampa Bay 23-13 in a game that was only going to mean anything if lowly Carolina, on the road, had beaten lofty Atlanta (it went to Atlanta 31-10). Seattle rose to the occaision and beat visiting St. Louis 16-6 in the Sunday night game.
Head-to-head: New Orleans hosted Seattle and beat them 34-19 in Week 11, ending Seattle's flirtation with above-.500 football.
I'm rooting for Seattle (they are the underdog's underdog), but they could very well be crushed by New Orleans. The entire NFC West is a candidate for relegation to the NAFL. If you're picking, I'd say pick the Saints. Trivia: New Orleans has never won a playoff game on the road (they're 0-3 all-time), unless you count last year's Super Bowl at a neutral site.
New York Jets (11-5) @ Indianapolis Colts (10-6, AFC South Champions)
9:00pm - NBC, CTV
Week 17: The Jets beat up on their Buffalo guests 38-7, but are 2-3 over their last five games, including a home loss to Miami. The Colts fended off visiting Tennessee 23-20 in a squeaker.
Head-to-head: The teams last met in last year's AFC Championship, where the Colts won 30-17 at home, though the Jets won a Week 16 matchup from the regular season prior 29-15, also in Indy.
I'm not betting on either of these teams to appear in the Super Bowl, are you? I pick the Colts, not so much because they've got a Manning, but more because Jets coach Rex Ryan is full of hot air that his Jets are a Super Bowl-calibre team. I won't say he's the Don Cherry of the NFL, but bombastic personalities of that sort often find ways to lose in spectacular fashion.
SUNDAY JANUARY 9 2011
Baltimore Ravens (12-4) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-6, AFC West Champions)
2:00pm - FOX, CTV
Week 17: Baltimore defeated Cincinati at home 13-7, Kansas City lost at home to Oakland 31-10. I don't think that bodes well for KC because they should have been trying to win that game so that they'd get the Jets instead of the Ravens. Ravens are also a tried-and-true commodity. I pick the Ravens.
Head-to-head: The teams previously met in September 2009 during the opening week of last season. The Ravens prevailed 38-24 in Baltimore.
Green Bay Packers (10-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, NFC East Champions)
5:30pm - CBS, CTV
Week 17: Green Bay played their way in at home 10-3 over a Chigago team with absolutely nothing to play for. Philadelphia lost at home 14-13 to the dissappointing Dallas Cowboys, but were resting virtually all of their starters since they had been inked in to #3 in the NFC. More germane for Philly is the Week 16 result: Joe Webb and the Vikings beat them convincingly, in Philly, 24-14, in the game that got moved from Sunday to Tuesday. (That was the first Tuesday game since 1946!)
Head-to-head: The Eagles opened the season by hosting the Packers, but went down 27-20. But the real story was Michael Vick coming in for Kevin Kolb and tearing things up in the second half. The non-denial denials about the "quarterback controversy" began here.
I'd root for the Eagles, probably just hoping that the party keeps rolling for Michael Vick's successful season. Green Bay probably should have done better than a 10-3 at home over any team with nothing to play for. Then again, Chicago might have prepared for the game as usual (they used their starters), because they didn't know for sure it meant nothing until the Falcons won earlier in the day.