Andy Cash’s Money Playoff Picks – The NFL Wildcard Round
The NFL Playoff picture is painted and she's beautiful! The only reason I love the months of January and February are the NFL Playoffs and The Super Bowl. I certainly don't love this time of the year for the snow and cold. You football fans will be seeing some great playoff action this weekend. I want to give you a little analysis and insight into who I believe will move on from the wildcard round, and why. I will preface by saying I am in no way an expert, this is a die-hard, average Joe, football fan point of view.
I'll break it down in the order in which the games will be played this week.
1. The Kansas City Chiefs at The Indianapolis Colts
Andy Reid has done a phenomenal job of completely transforming the 2-14 Chiefs of last year to the 11-5 team they are this season. Andy did have some help with the addition of Alex Smith at the quarterback position and a drastically improved defense. Having said all that, I do not believe they have what it takes to defeat Andrew Luck and the AFC South Champion Colts. The guidance of Chuck Pagano mixed with the leadership and passion of Andrew Luck, is a formula for victory.
Let's be honest, the hardest team the Chiefs faced before their bye week (Week 10) was the Eagles. At that point the Eagles were still in the process of realizing Nick Foles should be their guy at QB. Four out of the six divisional games they played, they lost. They fell to Denver and San Diego both times they played them. They did beat the Raiders twice, but who hasn't beat the Raiders this year. The easy schedule of Kansas City combined with the outstanding offense of the Colts means a disappointing trip home for the Chiefs. This game can be seen Saturday, Jan. 4th @ 4:35pm on NBC.
Predicted Score: Indianapolis Colts 21, Kansas City Chiefs 17
2. The New Orleans Saints at The Philadelphia Eagles
This game will be one of the more exciting playoff match-ups this weekend. I went back and forth on this game and weighed the strengths and weaknesses of both teams. I have come to the conclusion that Philadelphia will take this game, but not easily. Both teams have a great quarterback in Drew Brees and Nick Foles. Both teams also have stellar defenses.
One of the main components offensively, that I feel will be a big difference maker is the running game of Philadelphia. Running Back LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing this year with 1,607 yards total and averaged 100.4 yds/game. Overall, The Eagles led the league in Rushing with 2,566 total yards. The Saints running game is ranked 25th. The way Chip Kelly came in and turned that team around was outstanding. He brings out all the bells and whistles to execute that offense, with hand signals, colored signs, the works. The phenomenal run offense of Philadelphia mixed with a New Orleans rush defense that's ranked 14th overall will be enough to advance The NFC East Champion Eagles. Did I mention they're at home? Those Philly fans are fanatical!!! This game can be seen Saturday, Jan. 4th @ 8:10pm on NBC.
Predicted Score: The Philadelphia Eagles 28, The New Orleans Saints 21
3. The San Diego Chargers @ The Cincinnati Bengals
In my not so humble opinion, this game is obvious! A lot of events had to happen for The San Diego Chargers to even make the playoffs. I won't even go into the fact that the Chargers were lucky the referees missed the obvious penalty that occurred when Ryan Succop missed a possible game winning field goal during the week 17 match up against the Chiefs, who had most of their starters benched. I can't imagine any scenario where San Diego comes up with a win here. I will admit, they had a good season despite having made the head coaching change from Norv Turner to Mike McCoy. If the Chargers win this game they may as well go on and win the Super Bowl.
Let's look at this Cincinnati team for just one minute. This season they are 8-0 at home. They are hosting San Diego. Some of the teams that came in to Paul Brown Stadium include New England, Green Bay (With a healthy Rodgers), and Indianapolis. Do you really think that the Chargers will break that streak? I sure as heck don't. The Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has done a great job building this team and has yet to win a playoff game. This is his year to do it and it may be more than one game he wins. To make a long story short, The Bengals have the one-two punch of Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. By the way, Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game since January, 6th 1991 versus the Houston Oilers. Boomer Esiason was their quarterback. This game can be seen Sunday, Jan. 5th @ 1:05pm on CBS.
Predicted Score: The San Diego Chargers 10, The Cincinnati Bengals 34
4. The San Francisco 49ers at The Green Bay Packers
Last but certainly not least, the final matchup of the weekend is Green Bay hosting the 49ers. This will be an exciting game, a game only Troy Aikman and Joe Buck could announce. Let me start off by saying that the last three times these two teams played, San Francisco came up with a win. The last time was Week 1 on the "not so frozen tundra" of Lambeau. They beat Green Bay 33-28. If it hadn't been for Seattle's Championship caliber season, there is no doubt San Fran would have taken that division. Instead, they earned a wildcard spot with a 12-4 record. The 49ers are no joke. They have an offense that is unpredictable and a young quarterback that is hard to stop in Colin Kaepernick. They will be hard to beat, especially with star wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Mario Mannigham. Boldin and Manningham both have Super Bowl rings. This team came so close to a Super Bowl win last year that the chip on their shoulder is pretty big.
Having said all of that, I really believe that Aaron Rodgers can lead his team to victory. Let me give you my reasons why. First, the forecast for Green Bay on Sunday is a high of -2 degrees, not including wind chill. Although it will be cold for both teams, it's never that cold in San Francisco. Secondly, despite the Packers defense giving up big yards this year and overall playing horribly, this is Dom Capers 4th attempt in two years to dissect Jim Harbaugh's offense. Lastly, Aaron Rodgers is back! Before Rodgers went down with a broken collar bone in the week 9 loss to Chicago, Green Bay was on their way to an incredible season. Before the season changing injury the Packers were on a four game win streak. Now with all their offensive weapons back in action, including Randall Cobb who went down to a leg injury in week 3 against the Bengals. I can't forget Rookie of the Year candidate, running back Eddie Lacy! The injury rust is shaken off and I think the Green Bay defense will come up with some key turnovers and that offense will put up big points. It'll be a nail-biter indeed. This games can be seen Sunday, Jan. 5th @ 4:40pm on FOX.
Predicted Score: The San Francisco 49ers 30, The Green Bay Packers 33
Now that you've read though my picks, do you think I am right or full of it? Don't be afraid to let me know what you think in the comments section below.