What to Watch in the “Other” NFL Divisional Round Games

While part of my brain refuses o acknowledge that there are any other games being played this weekend BESIDES the Bears/Seahawks on Sunday at noon, I would be remiss if I did not mention SOMETHING about these games. After all, they will determine who the Bears will face in the next two games, right?  So here are some factors that I think will be a determining factor in this weeks ‘other’ games:

The first game Saturday afternoon will be the Ravens at the Steelers. These games are maybe the closest thing you will get to the old NFL rivalries of the 70’s or 80’s.  When these 2 teams collide, there always seems to be an abundance of big hits. The guy at the NFL office who is in charge of doling out the fines for illegal hits probably feels like a kids on the night before Christmas tonight.  In the meantime, there are 2 big matchups to watch in this game:

1) Ravens’ RB Ray Rice & TE Todd Heap versus the Steelers’ LBs in the passing game. The Steelers like to blitz James Harrison, and also like to let SS Troy Polamalu roam around and try to make big plays. This puts alot of pressure on the ILBS of Pittsburgh to cover Rice out of the backfield, and Heap across the middle. The Chiefs play 3-4 defense too, and those two combined for 15 catches for 150 yards.  Heap had 10 catches alone.

2) WR Mike Wallace versus the Ravens’ secondary. The weak link of the Ravens defense is anyone in the secondary NOT NAMED Ed Reed. Arguably, no one is better at extending plays from the QB position than Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger; and WR Mike Wallace loves to go deep on those plays. I am not sure that Baltimore has anyone on their team that can keep pace with Wallace going straight down the field.

My prediction?  I have a hard time betting against Mike Tomlin and the Steelers at home in the playoffs. But I think it will be close.  Steelers 20, Ravens 16.

The Saturday night game is Packers at the Falcons. Honestly, I would prefer to watch both team buses drive off of a cliff. The Falcons are at home, where allegedly they are unbeatable; and they own the best record in the NFC, which is actually pretty easy to do when you get to play the Bengals, Browns, 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, and Panthers twice. Last time Aaron Rodgers played indoors, he left with a concussion, and the Packers lost TO THE LIONS. In this game:

a) do the Falcons have enough secondary guys to cover all the Packers’ WRs?  Quick—without googling it—name two guys in the Falcons’ secondary. Exactly.

b) Can the Packers stop the Falcons’ run game?  The Falcons own one of the  best run games in the NFL. They have one of the best running backs in Michael Turner. The Packers have on of the worst run defense in the NFC, ranking 5th out of the 6th playoff teams.

My prediction:  Aaron Rodgers versus Matt Ryan?  Matt Ryan has never had to win a shootout. Put my money on Rodgers. Packers 28, Falcons 21.

Finally, the Sunday late game is the Jets visiting the Patriots. The Jets decided the Patriots did not have enough motivation to beat them already, so have been talking all week long about Brady and the Pats, giving them enough bulletin board material for a lifetime. Why would you want to ruffle Brady’s feathers? I don’t know either.

1) You can put Revis on Welker; and Cromartie on Branch. But who covers Green-Ellis and Woodhead out of the backfield?  Or the two rookie TEs, Hernandez and Gronkowski?  Brady put 45 on this team when they played a little over a month ago.

2) LT and Shonn Greene are the key for the Jets. The teams that beat the Patriots can beat them up with the running game. The Jets need those two guys to carry the ball. Alot.

Prediction:  Lets say  both team have equal talent. So it comes down to Brady and Sanchez. I know.  Patriots 24, Jets 14.

20 responses

  1. lincoln1

    I highly doubt that Johnny. The jets may very well win the super bowl after that performance. people may be tired of rex ryan and want to say things about him, but the first thing that needs to be said about him is that he is flat out a terrfic coach. They whooped the best team in the league. if their D plays like that then they will not be beaten by anyone. That Jet D played terrible against the bears and if we get them again in 3 weeks there is no way in hell we will ever put up 40 pts on them again. I want the steelers in 3 weeks because at least they have not seen us and what this offense can do. The jets know and Ryan will not let them forget it.

    January 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    • johnnyharvard

      Thats a bad argument, because what if the Packers or Bears offense plays to their best abilities. And if their defense and Special teams play to their best abilities. I would’ve thought that this season would’ve taught you something by now, but I guess once a naysayer always a naysayer.

      January 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm

  2. johnnyharvard

    Yes we will. Bears offense is really stepping it up. You can throw that vanilla ass game plan out from the Packer game. Bears since the bye have been getting better and better. That O-line played a good pressure defense today too. They stoned the Jets who dominated that bally-hooed O-line of the Pats. If the Bears had a playing surface like the Jets did today the Bears may have done the same terrible things to the great Brady. Pressure makes a QB look a lot different. not just Jay Cutler!

    January 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm

  3. johnnyharvard

    Tommie benefited from the play of our DE’s who were amazing today. Peppers just kept pushing Okung in Hasselbacks lap. A big difference playing against a healthy Peppers I guess. Still wouldn’t resign him though.

    And Olsen is a weapon. Bears will use him and others next season. I think in the post season you’ll see more of what you’ll see next season and beyond hopefully. Kellen Davis is real good too. They should use him more. he’s a nasty blocker too. Great athlete as he was real good as the Spartans power forward.

    January 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    • As I have said before, I don’t think we need Tommie to be the ’06 Tommie anymore, with Idonije and Peppers. But if he can play like he did today for the next two games, we will be really tough to score on. At least score enough on us to beat us.

      January 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm

  4. Lincoln1

    Olsen had a great game. Its also against one of the worst playoff teams in NFL history. The packers are a far better team then seattle especially that D which will not allow those things to happen. They also will know what how to force Cutler into making mistakes which could obviously be a huge thing next week

    January 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    • you also have to consider that the Packers, in their last 4 games, have scored 45 (Giants); 21 (Eagles); and 48 (Falcons). The other game? The Bears held them to 10. And the only TD came on a blown coverage by Danieal Manning. Maybe Jay doesnt have the game he has today. But the Packers have yet to show that they can a) stop Matt Forte in the run game; or b) Score at will on our defense. Should be a game for the ages.

      January 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    • johnnyharvard

      Before Ben commented I was about to respond with the fact that the Bears have traditionally held the great Rogers under check. Can’t see that suddenly changing here. Bears D-line gives their O-line fits. especially Mr. Peppers. The offense is looking strong. I think holding back in the last game will pay huge dividends in this one. Expect to see a lot of things you haven’t seen yet from this offense. They’ll play a base ickle because its worked for them against us. I fully expect Martz to have some nickle beaters and some nioe packages waiting for them like he had today with Taylor and Kellen Davis. Bears are better than Falcons and cutler is WAY better than the very physically limited Ryan who’s pretty easy to defense. U take away his check downs game over. Jay can beat you in a number of ways as he has no physical limitations.

      January 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm

  5. johnnyharvard

    Packers were impressive, but they haven’t proved anything yet. If they come here and get beat than I guess the Bears would be the overwhelming best team in the NFL. Bears were just putting around their last game in GB and should’ve beat them, and knocked them out in lambeau. But Packers are a great organization and Rogers got the first post season win. But I’ve been saying Atlanta were pretenders for awhile now.

    January 16, 2011 at 11:55 am

    • atlanta was def overrated…and thats the reason i didnt mind the thought of playing in atlanta for the NFC title. although if we play like we played the first quarter, we will beat anyone in the league. was martz playing possum with olsenthe whole season or something?

      January 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    • atlanta was def overrated…and thats the reason i didnt mind the thought of playing in atlanta for the NFC title. although if we play like we played the first quarter, we will beat anyone in the league. was martz playing possum with olsenthe whole season or something?

      January 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      • johnnyharvard

        Yeah Olsen breaking out. Even made some good blocks too. As far as the Falcons they play in a dome and Ryan is a check down QB. nothing special there. Their defense was ranked 16th overall so it wasn’t exactly the steel curtain. Just watching them they were less than impressive.

        January 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      • its funny because 2 different articles came out this week about how the Bears should trade Olsen since his numbers were so down this year. But everyones numbers were down this year. think about how different Jays numbers and Fortes number would be if the o line had played at this level all 16 games.

        January 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      • and, speaking of resurgences, whats up with Tommie Harris in this game? he looks unblockable again.

        January 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

  6. lincoln1

    well the steelers and pack won. Im obviously not a fan of what Rothelisberger has done off the field, but on the field he has proven to be a top notch QB in this league. As for the pack they just beat they hell out of the falcons and proved that they are the best team in the NFC. Rodgers also had one of the greatest postseason games a QB has ever had. He also proved that he may be the best QB in the NFC when you compare that it factor

    January 16, 2011 at 12:35 am

  7. Lincoln1

    This pitt and steelers game is going to be great. Then that pats and jets game with that hatred will be special. These two AFc game will be most entertaining. The with the falcons and pack tonight, who has time to watch a Bulls game especially since lebron most likely isnt playing. If lebron plays then I will watch both…My picks are bears, ravens, pats and atl, but other then the pats game, all three of these other games could easily go the other way

    January 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    • johnnyharvard

      I hope the Steelers get crushed and Rapelisberger goes to the hospital. Can’t root for a team with an ass bag like him on it. And I love the Steeler franchise. Its a shame I can’t with good conscience root for them. Bears are the team that will win by the biggest margin. Seahawks suck! Jets will give the Pats fits. think they pull it out, but wouldn’t be shocked if they won. The only match up they win is at QB, but still amazingly they get it done. The Pats are the perfect example of team exeution and great coaching getting a team far.

      January 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

  8. johnnyharvard

    Nice call BTW. I didn’t think they would, but I wasn’t surprised they did. I thought the saints looked fat and content all year long, plus Seattle has a huge homefield advantage.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

  9. johnnyharvard

    Theres going to be a couple good ones today. Than of course I’ll have another eye on the Bulls/heat game tonight. This is going to be a great sports weekend for me.

    I don’t usually do predictions, because the mere notion that anyone can predict anything is ridiculous. I mean our next breath isn’t certain. But my gut tells me Pack, Falcons, Pats, and Steelers. And a bonus pick Bulls win.

    January 15, 2011 at 8:46 am

    • well, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I did say in the blog last week that I thought the Seahawks would win. LOL!

      January 15, 2011 at 8:56 am

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