NFL Playoffs Predictions: Chargers Prevail

Jason Flam, Opinion Manager

The NFL playoffs are upon us, and they are about to prove to us once again why they are the most exciting postseason in professional sports. Wildcard weekend is up first and we’re here to give the predictions. So without further ado, let’s get to the picks:

Wildcard Round

Game: New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals: Jets 20, Bengals 14

Spin: Look, I realize that the Bengals had nothing to play for in Week 17 when they were routed by these same Jets, but New York may be the hottest team coming into the first round and they’re carried by their punishing offensive line and league’s number one rated run offense led by Alan Faneca. They block for one of the league’s premiere backs in Thomas Jones. Yes, they do have a rookie QB with Mark Sanchez, but their defense is experienced, and Carson Palmer has yet to win anything in his career. That doesn’t mean the Bengals can’t win it, but it’s going to be interesting to see how they rebound after the death of teammate Chris Henry, and sputtering down the final stretch of the season going 1-3 in their last four games.

Game: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots: Patriots 27, Ravens 10

Spin: The Patriots have lost their leading receiver Wes Welker, but they still have one of the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL in Randy Moss ,and don’t forget Tom Brady. He himself is a top ten quarterback of all time and he finds ways to win. He’s won no matter who he’s had in his possession from Tim Brown to Randy Moss, and from Deion Branch to Jabar Gaffney, Brady hasn’t missed a beat. Joe Flacco is still a young player, and though he did reach the AFC Championship last season, I just don’t see the same scenario playing out this time around. He is facing a tougher, more experienced Patriots team than he faced last year in the divisional round when the Ravens squared off against the Miami Dolphins. To add to the pain, the Patriots are angry and look determined to restore their good name this year. So look for the Pats to roll in this one.

Game: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys 23, Eagles 20

Spin: This is going to be the best game on Wildcard round for two reasons: 1. These are the two hottest teams in the NFC coming into the game, with only the Chargers being on more of a roll in the entire NFL than these two teams. The ‘Boys have their big-play wide receiver Miles Austin to look to when needed, and they have an abundance of talent at the running back position with Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, and Marion Barber. It is tough to beat a good team twice in a row, but I’d give the Cowboys the nod here.

Game: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals: Cardinals 30, Packers 20

Spin: I really do like the Pack a lot this year, but if there’s one team they don’t match up well against it’s the Cards. They’re the reigning NFC Champs and have a very experienced playoff quarterback in Kurt Warner. This is Aaron Rodgers’ first playoff appearance with a very young team. Advantage: Cardinals.

Divisional Round

Game: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts: Colts 34, Jets 17

Spin: Let’s be real here; the Colts are clearly the better team. It was these very same Jets that ended their perfect season bid, but we all remember how the Colts sat the greatest quarterback of all time in the second half leading to their defeat. Peyton Manning is going to have some difficulty with Darrelle Revis in the Jets’ secondary, but he is going to overcome that by finding Dallas Clark. Colts win.

Game: New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers: Chargers 17, Patriots 13

Spin: I have a feeling this game is going to be more of a scrapper than the other ones with lower scoring and more of a defensive struggle. The difference between this matchup and the Ravens for the Pats is that the Ravens are going to be without both of their starting corners and the Chargers are for the most part healthy. So without Welker, the Chargers will swarm Randy Moss and force Brady to make plays. Too much for the Pats and Brady to handle; the Chargers are just too hot right now.

Game: Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints: Saints 28, Cardinals 21

Spin: Not an easy game to pick, but are any of these? My gut feeling tells me to go with the Saints because of how well they played for the first 13 games of the season. I think I’ll give them a mulligan and forget the last three weeks. They’re still the best team in the NFC with a high powered offense lead by Drew Brees and a very underrated defensive unit. The story is much the same for the Cards, but look for Brees to carve into their secondary unit.

Game: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings: Vikings 23, Cowboys 10

Spin: Dallas had a nice run at it, huh? But the fact is simple: the Vikings are just too good. Brett Favre looks like he’s 25 again, and don’t forget the man in the backfield for the Vikes. The Cowboys run game will be limited by Minnesota’s mighty defensive line and Tony Romo will have to step up if they want to win. Sorry Dallas, Grandpa Favre is at it once again.

Conference Championships

AFC Game: San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts: Chargers 38, Colts 35 Spin: This one will go down to the wire, but in the end the Bolts will prevail. It seems that the Colts always meet their demise in the postseason at the hands of these Chargers. This year just doesn’t look any different to me. LaDainian Tomlinson isn’t what he once was, but the complement of he and Darren Sproles will help propel the Chargers to victory.

NFC Game: Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints: Saints 24, Vikings 16Spin: The Saints will finally reach the Super Bowl after everything they’ve been through. Drew Brees will have a very efficient game a lead the Saints to victory. That’s not to say the Brett Favre-lead Vikings will just roll over and die, but the journey has to end sometime for Favre. Brees is just too good to be stopped by an average Vikings secondary. Forget the run, just throw your way to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLIV

Game: New Orleans Saints vs. San Diego Chargers: Chargers 31, Saints 27Spin: The Super Bowl will be an exciting one, but in the end Phillip Rivers and the Chargers will come away with the Lombardi Trophy. Tomlinson may in fact have his best game of the season against a good Saints run defense, and Brees will do his part as well. The AFC just seems like the stronger conference this year, and the Chargers are the best team left in it.