Survival of the Fittest NFL Style: Wild Card Sunday Edition
Well helllooo there! If you’re reading this, it’s because the Jets upset the Bengals in Saturday’s AFC wild card match-up and I’ve lived for another day in my survivor pool. For Saturday’s pick and analysis, click here.
The good news is that the Jets win knocked 6 people out of the pool. The bad news? I have to make another “sure thing” pick. And one thing we know about the NFL this season, there are no sure things. Well, except when it comes to the Rams losing. And since this is the playoffs, there are no Rams. Or Browns. Or Buccaneers. Or Lions. Or Chiefs. Or Raiders. Or Redskins.
Just a quick reminder: we’re only allowed to use a team once. So if they advance, we can’t pick them again. Ever.
So without further ado, let’s get to the game breakdowns.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Let’s start with the Patriots:
- Undefeated at home this season (8-0)
- Belichick and Brady have never lost a home playoff game (8-0)
- They have Tom Brady and Randy Moss (if Moss decides to show up).
- Very QB friendly officiating and rule changes
- Wes Welker is out. And that is a very bad thing, though Julian Edelman is an able replacement (and MOT!)
- Suspect defense (and I’m being generous here)
- Sketchy running game
- They’re really not the Patriots any more.
And now the Ravens:
- Ray Rice is a beast and will be hard to contain. Even Willis McGahee is back from the dead and is getting in on the party.
- If they can establish the run game (see point 1 above), QB Joe Flacco should be able to have time to make some plays downfield.
- Good but not great defense (they are no longer the super-vaunted Ravens defense, ok?)
- Michael Oher of The Blind Side is a starting O lineman for the Ravens in case you hadn’t heard!
- Ray Lewis. Oh, right, he didn’t go to jail. Nevermind.
- Prone to too many penalties and you know that the NFL has sent a memo to the referees to protect comeback player of the year Tom Brady.
- Weak receiving corps
- And they played in a weak AFC North. Yes, I said it. The Bengals were the division champs and you saw what the Jets did to them, didn’t you?
The pick: Patriots. I would love to pick the Ravens. Really, I would, since I hate the Patriots. But I have to stick with New England. I don’t think they go any further, but a first round win is not too hard to picture.
Moving on to the late game in the NFC.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
Let’s start with the Green Bay Packers:
- Aaron Rodgers is a total stud. And a monster on 3rd down conversions. Over 65% completion rate, double digit TDs and zero interceptions.
- Solid running game
- Solid defense, including Charles Woodson, a leading candidate for defensive player of the year.
- Wins over good teams including Dallas, arguably the best team in the NFC right now
- Playing on the road
- Do they incur the wrath of the football gods for running up the score on the Cardinals last week?
- NFL’s youngest team
- Aaron Rodgers has no playoff experience (I don’t count his garbage time 2 years ago)
- Two losses to Minnesota (a good team, but 2 losses?)
And now the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals
- Defending NFC Champions
- Kurt Warner’s veteran leadership plus Larry Fitzgerald’s ridiculous awesomeness
- A much improved running game with emergence of Beanie Wells
- Decent defense
- Injuries to Anquan Boldin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Boldin will likely miss the game. That is terrible news.
- Playing at home where they were only 4-4
- Champions of an extremely weak division (NFC West is the weakest division in the entire NFL)
- Look at their schedule: Minnesota is the only good team they beat all season. And bad losses to bad teams including San Francisco and Carolina.
The Pick: Green Bay. It’s hard to pick against the defending NFC champions who were in this exact same spot last year before making their improbable run to the Super Bowl. But lightning does not strike twice and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have the momentum. And this Cardinals team didn’t beat anybody good.
Survivor Pick: New England or Green Bay? Green Bay! Yes, I’m going all-in with the boys from Wisconsin.
Hope to see you again next week. And if not, it’s been a blast.