NFL Playoffs

The San Diego Chargers look like the best team in football. Photo from chargers.com.

The San Diego Chargers look like the best team in football. Photo from chargers.com.

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The NFL has had a controversial season in many ways, but has finally come to its finale: the playoffs. The first round of the playoffs this year are highlighted by several rematches of last week, although none of those games were very competitive.

The New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals start off the playoffs on Saturday, after the Jets shut out the Bengals, 37-0 in the regular season finale. However, the Bengals rested all of their starters throughout the game, while the Jets played to win. The Bengals finished 10-6 this year, while the Jets ended up 9-7.

Each team played a fairly tough schedule, and ended up with a record over .500 and good enough for the playoffs. I look at the Jets as a team that has come on strong in the last few weeks, and have a shot at making a run in the playoffs. I look for the same result as last week, although a closer game, but a Jets’ win nonetheless.

The next game, the Dallas Cowboys against the Philadelphia Eagles, is an intriguing matchup. Against all odds, in Week 17, the Cowboys blanked the Eagles, 24-0, with the Eagles’ starters playing. Donovan McNabb was held under 250 yards and no touchdowns, and Brian Westbrook had only five carries in the game. The Cowboys, on the other hand, looked like a top-tier team.

I look for Philadelphia to be out for revenge, after giving up the division championship, home field advantage, and a first-round bye. The Eagles have a huge amount of firepower, after scoring over 425 points this season, and Donovan McNabb will get back on track this game with a close and hard-fought victory.

The third game of the playoffs, the Patriots against the Ravens promises to be a dogfight between two stellar teams. The Patriots, after losing Wes Welker to an ACL tear, look to come back from a loss to the Texans last week with a huge performance from Randy Moss. Tom Brady will look to throw the ball his way early and often.

The Ravens, on the other hand, have relied on Ray Rice for everything from rushing to receiving for most of this season. Willis McGahee, however, made a big return to center stage with three touchdowns and over 150 yards last week. It will be interesting to see how the Ravens balance their two stars this week. However, regardless of how they are balanced, Baltimore will not be able to stop Tom Brady. The Patriots haven’t lost at home yet this year, and I look for them to keep their streak going.

The final game of the first round, the Arizona Cardinals against the Green Bay Packers, is a third rematch of Week 17. In week 17, the Packers routed the Cardinals by 26 points. However, Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald weren’t playing, and Arizona had no reason to go for the victory.

The Packers, led by Aaron Rodgers, will be hoping to move on to play Brett Favre and the Vikings. However, the matchup won’t take place this year, as the Cardinals will be too dominant in the passing game. Kurt Warner is always stellar in the playoffs, and the Packers will not be able to slow Fitzgerald.

The San Diego Chargers look like the best team in football. Photo from chargers.com. See bottom of article for link.

In the larger picture of the playoffs, the San Diego Chargers seem like to team to beat. After winning 11 straight games, including wins over Dallas, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, I don’t see any team having an easy team knocking the Chargers out of the playoffs.

In the NFC, no clear favorite has emerged over the last few weeks. The Saints have lost three straight game, two to subpar opponents, leading into the playoffs. The Vikings have lost two of their last three, although they did have an impressive 44-7 win against New York last week.

I look for New Orleans to win a couple of close games to get to the Super Bowl. Drew Brees is currently the best quarterback in the NFL, even if his stats don’t reflect it, and he has a lot of support between Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. The Saints certainly have enough firepower offensively to get to the Super Bowl, and I look for them to get the job done.

At the end of the day, however, my Super Bowl champion is San Diego. With a balanced attack and a stellar defense, the Chargers are simply the best team in the NFL, and they will prove it this postseason.

Link to above picture: http://www.chargers.com/media-vault/photo-gallery/Redskins-vs-Chargers/b31459ad-ef2c-4e01-921b-50a86790381a

For questions or comments, Jesse Buchsbaum can be reached at jessebu@gmail.com.

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