Seattle (+8) at Green Bay - Saturday 4:30 pm EST: This game is a rematch of one of my favorite non-Steelers related playoff games of the past couple years. In the wild card round of the 2003 playoffs these two teams matched up and went to overtime where Matt Hasselbeck delivered his infamous line of "we want the ball and we're going to score." Of course the game ended when Hasselbeck threw a `pick 6' to Al Harris. Both teams excel at passing but struggle in the running game and both teams rank in the top 10 in the league in points scored and points allowed.
Why Seattle will win: Seattle is the most playoff savvy team in the NFC playoffs. They've been in the playoffs each year since 2003 and while they rarely have explosive or even identifiable players, they know how to win and are rarely if ever out coached. The Packers haven't been in the playoffs since 2004 and are one of the youngest teams in the NFL. In fact 32 players on their 53 man rosters have been in the league 3 years or less.
Why the Pack will win: They are at home and they still have Brett Farve. Their home field advantage will be even greater this week because the Seahawks struggle on the road. In the past five regular seasons they've combined for a 51-29 overall record but just 18-22 on the road and only one season have they had a winning record away from Seattle (2005), the `Hawks haven't won a road playoff game since 1983 (Super Bowl XL season they were the #1 seed). I went all the way back to 1992 and 2005 is the only season that they posted a winning record on the road.
Jacksonville (+13 ½) at New England - Saturday 8:00 pm EST: By now we all know the story and we're sick of it but here goes, New England is the second team ever to go undefeated and the first ever 16-0 team in the regular season. They dominated most of the competition and set numerous records along the way. Jacksonville would like nothing better to go up to New England and play in a blizzard with 30 mph winds so that both teams are grounded.
Why Jacksonville will win: If New England does have a weak spot, it is their run defense. It is the one of the only areas that they aren't ranked in the top 10 in the league (pass, pass D, points scored/allowed). If Jacksonville can run the ball effectively they should be able to slow the game down and make it a competitive game. The Jags also have to be able to pressure NE with their front four in order to slow down Brady.
Why New England will win: Because they've won every other damn game, why not? No, seriously Jacksonville is a very physical team but their just average in pass defense (15th) and they got exposed last week as Big Ben passed for over 300 yards and completed almost 70% of his passes. They've have their hands full again this week with Brady, Moss, Welker, and Stallworth. Oh and weather shouldn't be factor with only 5 mph winds and no precipitation on the forecast.