Atlanta Falcons

JMRA Divisional Round Predictions

Then, there were eight…

Time to rundown some quick predictions/thoughts on the weekend’s upcoming action.

BALTIMORE AT PITTSBURGH – SATURDAY 4:30PM, CBS:

Ray Rice running effectively is unlikely to be a significant option in this game. That means the offensive onus will fall on Joe Flacco’s shoulders.

People seem to think Flacco is morphing into one of the game’s top quarterbacks. I’m not one of these people.

This game is above his pay grade…UNLESS, Troy Polamalu’s ankle injury hampers their secondary.

Here is a quick reminder for all Ravens fans heading into tomorrow’s game regarding Flacco.

He has beaten the Steelers twice in his short career. The starting quarterbacks in those two games for Pittsburgh? Dennis Dixon and Chaz Batch.

PREDICTION: STEELERS 23, RAVENS 16

GREEN BAY AT ATLANTA – SATURDAY 8PM, FOX:

It’s an overflow crowd on the Green Bay bandwagon at this point as they prepare for the NFC’s top seed.

I really want to jump aboard. However, I worry about Mike McCarthy in this spot. Coaches that have issues with time management are tough to take on the road continuously in the playoffs.

Last week, McCarthy allowed the Eagles to run off 42 seconds leading up to a field goal attempt late in the second quarter without calling a timeout.

That sequence contributed to the Packers not scoring at the end of the first half.

Also, I think Green Bay is at its best when their foot is on the gas. When they slow down the tempo due to time and score (i.e. when they led Philly 21-10 last week in the fourth quarter), it exposes their greatest flaw…a consistent running game.

Recent history is on Green Bay’s side though. The sixth seed has won the last two meetings versus the NFC’s top seeded team in postseason play. In ’08, Philly defeated the Giants and one year prior, the Giants upset Dallas.

Nonetheless, I think the Falcons will be sharp defensively and make enough plays offensively to hold off Green Bay.

PREDICTION: FALCONS 23, PACKERS 20

SEATTLE AT CHICAGO – SUNDAY 1PM, FOX:

I really want to write off Seattle. Yet, there are three problems with being so dismissive over the Seahawks.

  1. Chicago has allowed 96 points in their last three home games.
  2. This will be Jay Cutler’s first playoff start.
  3. This will be Matt Hasselbeck’s 11th.
  4. Seattle won in Chicago earlier this season.
  5. The mere notion of Seattle playing in the NFC title game seems so implausible that it may actually happen.

Clearly, this means I’m picking Seattle…Nah.

PREDICTION: BEARS 34, SEAHAWKS 31

NY JETS AT NEW ENGLAND – SUNDAY 4:30PM, CBS

With Flacco in Pittsburgh and Sanchez in Foxborough, I truly believe these AFC games will be a referendum on the game manager concept.

Much like Flacco, Sanchez has to man up and make big plays with his arm. The only way he can avoid this is if the Jets dominate the line of scrimmage with the running game and the Jets D forces turnovers.

If those things don’t happen, Sanchez will need to play on the proverbial bicycle and go into chase mode against one of the greatest field generals in league history, Tom Brady.

The Jets must win the line of scrimmage battle to have a chance. Even if they do, that still may not be enough.

New York will move the ball but I don’t believe the defense will be able to fix its problems from their last meeting in Foxborough.

PREDICTION: PATRIOTS 30, JETS 17


 

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