Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 NFL Wild Card Weekend

It’s that time again. The NFL’s second season starts this weekend with the Wild Card playoffs. With off field incidents holding so much of the spotlight during the regular season I am glad we enter the post season able to enjoy some good on field matchups. Here are the teams I think will move on to the divisional playoff round.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers
Saturday 4:30pm on ESPN

It’s hard to overlook the fact that the Panthers enter this weekend with a losing record. However, at least for this wild card game we must do just that. The Panthers have played their best football of the season at just the right time. Meanwhile major injuries are catching up to the Cardinals. The matchup at QB with a third stringer starting for the Cardinals vs. Cam Newton will be the key to who wins this game. Newton’s accident seems to have served as a wakeup call. I expect him to outplay his counterpart. I also expect Carolina to successfully run the football. The Panthers at home present too big a hurdle for the Cardinals to overcome. The Panthers will move on showing they belong, despite my objections to having a team with a losing record in the playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburg Steelers
Saturday 8:15pm on NBC

With two division rivals who split their season series, this just might be the best game of the weekend. Le’Veon Bell is out. If he were 100% and available the Steelers would be an easy pick. Still, with more falling on the arm of the QB I expect Roethlisberger to get his team into the end zone, leading to a Pittsburg win.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts
Sunday 1:05pm on CBS

Let me say upfront that the Bengals are the more balanced of these two teams. However going to Indianapolis I am not sure if this balance will do any good. A lot will rest on Andrew Luck’s shoulders and I think he will successfully carry the load. This game has the potential to get out of hand by the fourth quarter. The Bengals will keep it close until then but I expect them to wear down in the face of the Colts passing game. Andrew Luck will lead the Colts to the next round.

Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday 4:40pm on Fox

It’s unusual to say Dallas did everything right in December. I expect them to continue to show up this weekend. Having Ndamukong Suh (available after having his suspension reduced) will help the Lions but this will not be enough against Dallas’ offensive line. DeMarco Murray is key to keeping Matthew Stafford on the sideline. With less pressure on the arm of Tony Romo, the QB is in position to have a good game. I think Dallas has too much for the Lions to overcome. Dallas will move forward giving Romo his second playoff win.

Last year I was 7-4 with my playoff picks. I look forward to moving into double digits in wins with this weekend’s games. I know the odds are against it but I think these matchups lend themselves to a home sweep.

What do you think?

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