NFL Playoff Preview
How about a little NFL playoff preview? No matter which sport you’re talking about, and now we can even count the top level of college football, the playoffs are the pinnacle. It’s when even the luke-warm fan has to get a little jazzed about the games. Like for me and Major League Baseball. I keep a mild interest in the regular season, see who’s hot and who’s leading the league in a few stats, but it’s the post-season when I really check the schedule and see when the games are being played and try to watch as much as possible. If there are any mild NFL fans, this is when they can finally join the rest of the country and dive head first into the games.
Most of us know the Cowboys finished their best season in the past six years with a 12-4 record, the NFC East title and have a first round home game with the Detroit Lions. Almost anyone who sits on a network pre or post-game set is saying that the Cowboys are one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs. Hard to argue that. They’ve whipped up on Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Washington the last four weeks of the season by a combined score of 165-79. DeMarco Murray set a new Cowboys single season rushing record as did Dez Bryant with touchdown receptions. Watch out Lions.
The Carolina Panthers should give Arizona a decent run for its money, despite the fact that they have the worst record of any team to make the NFL playoffs. But even though the Cardinals are one twisted knee away from calling Tim Tebow, their defense should be enough to snuff out Cam Newton and a very inconsistent offense. Seattle and Green Bay earned first round bye’s and will be well rested in two weeks. Home field is a definite advantage for both teams but I think Green Bay is the team to beat in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers should be the league MVP over Murray and Tony Romo, but a future classic NFC division playoff game between the Packers and Cowboys is in the cards.
In the AFC, lots of good angry, cold weather games are on tap. The Steelers and Ravens play the same type of game and there’s a good chance the wind chill will be lower than the number on the starting quarterbacks’ jersey. Speaking of which, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger will have a shoot-out in this game, with the edge going to Big Ben who led the league in passing yardage in 2014, a stat he was never in the top five before. Steelers win a close one. Andrew Luck got over his Dallas flu and is heading into the playoffs feeling good after the Colts ripped the Titans on Sunday, and he passed for 4,700 yards and 40 touchdowns on the year. The Bengals have lost three straight first round playoff games and haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. They’ll make it four straight first round losses this year when they bow down to the Colts.
I have Patriots and Broncos meeting each other in the AFC Championship, a game the country can’t wait for, with the Patriots taking care of business in Foxborough. Cowboys/Patriots will make one hell of a Super Bowl. Bank on it.