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Play-offs set to provide a real treat

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Neil Reynolds | 11:01 UK time, Thursday, 6 January 2011

The flights are booked, the thermals are packed and the research notes are being furiously scribbled as you read this blog - it's play-off time in the NFL and I'm off to Philadelphia for the enthralling first round match between the hometown Eagles and the Green Bay Packers.

This is arguably the pick of the four play-off encounters taking place in the United States this weekend. Both teams are evenly matched with identical records of 10 wins and six losses, and they are packed with offensive weapons that will have points-lovers drooling.

At this stage of last year's NFL play-offs, myself and Greg Brady witnessed a 51-45 overtime shoot-out between the Packers and the Arizona Cardinals. We'll be together again on Sunday night and if we get half as good a game (which we easily will), listeners on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra will be in for a real treat.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers celebrates with fans after his side's win over Chicago on Sunday

Aaron Rodgers could be the difference between the Packers and Eagles. Photo: AP

Before I get on to the Packers and Eagles in some detail, it is worth reflecting on an amazing 2010 regular season. Much has been made of the excitement being provided by the wide-open Premier League this year but the NFL more than holds its own in terms of unpredictability and excitement.

The regular season produced an average of 44.1 points per game - the highest total in the NFL since 1965. Five teams - Kansas City, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Seattle - made the play-offs having not been involved in the post-season the previous year, and the Chiefs went from worst to first in their division, marking the eighth successive campaign that feat has been achieved in the NFL.

Add in the fact that more than half (50.8%) of all games were decided by one score or less and you can see why this season has left many fans breathless.

But there's no time to rest now. Twelve teams remain on the road to Super Bowl 45, which will take place in Dallas, Texas, on Sunday 6 February.

The regular season was very good, but the intensity will get cranked up another notch or two for the play-offs. There is something special about an NFL play-off game and, in my experience, the atmosphere far exceeds that at the Super Bowl.

I have been to three Super Bowls and this will be my third play-off game at the weekend. I would take the play-off game every time. For a start, each stadium is filled with real fans and not the corporate guests who make up a large percentage of so many major sporting finals around the world.

And with American sports not really having a tradition of travelling support, play-off games always offer a chance for 99.9% of the crowd to get behind one team and make a lot of noise. Add in the fact that players are fighting on every play to keep their season alive (lose and you don't play again until September) and you have quite an explosive and atmospheric sporting cocktail.

The play-offs, of course, are designed to find an eventual NFL champion but also to showcase the best teams in the league. But I don't think that is going to happen this year, at least not this weekend.

More experienced readers, bear with me. I feel an explanation of the play-off system is in order. Six teams from each conference - American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC) - go through to the play-offs. That half dozen is filled with the four division champions in each conference and then the two non-division-winning teams with the best records.

The top two in each conference - New England and Pittsburgh in the AFC and Atlanta and Chicago in the NFC - go straight into round two and will begin their Super Bowl run on January 15-16.

The rest play in the wild card round this weekend, including a Seattle Seahawks team that won just seven games this season - good enough to secure the worst division in American football, the NFC West.

That does not sit well with me. The Seahawks will host the New Orleans Saints on Saturday with a record of 7-9. But the 10-win New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be sitting at home wishing they played in the weak NFC West.

I want to see the 12 top teams in the NFL playing when the play-offs begin. I would love to see the top six in each conference selected on overall record. I would rather not see the likes of Seattle in the mix based purely on their coming top of a terrible division while Tampa and New York could only finish second or third in the NFC South and East respectively.

Of course, given the way this NFL season has panned out, I would only be mildly shocked if the distinctly ordinary Seahawks pulled off an upset this weekend. One thing is for certain - their fans are certain to create that play-off atmosphere I described earlier. There is not a noisier bunch of supporters in the league.

A Phildelphia Eagles fan in full voice during their recent match against Houston Texans

Eagles fans have a reputation for creating an intimidating atmosphere. Photo: Getty

There might be a more intimidating group, however, and I will be among them in Philadelphia on Sunday evening. Eagles fans are loud, proud and, occasionally, a little bit obnoxious. They are a bit like the Millwall of NFL fan groups - no one likes them and they don't care.

And a trip to the old Veterans Stadium was a bit like standing at the Cold Blow Lane End all those years ago. It was slightly intimidating, a bit rough around the edges but full of passionate support, spilled beer and the occasional punch-up.

A hostile reception will be in order for the Packers in a game that features the two top-ranked quarterbacks in the NFC - Aaron Rodgers, of Green Bay, and Philadelphia's Michael Vick.

It should be quite a showdown between that pair.

Rodgers forced Brett Favre into the first of many retirements in 2008 and has proven the Packers were right to go with the younger passer at that time. He has been outstanding in his three seasons as a starter and is the NFL's all-time leader with a quarterback rating of 98.4.

Rodgers can make every throw in the book. He has a strong arm and he is extremely accurate. But what I like about him the most is that he excels in pressure situations.

Let's look at three key areas of American football - third downs, against the blitz and in the red zone (inside the opponent's 20-yard line). Rodgers is the NFL leader in third down passing over the past two seasons, no quarterback was rated higher against the blitz in 2010 and his career red zone statistics read 55 touchdowns and just one interception.

Vick has become America's guilty pleasure.

After being sentenced to 21 months in a state prison for running a dog-fighting ring in August 2007, he has resurrected his career with the Eagles.

It is odd watching Vick play. When you know his back story, it's hard to put his past in a convenient "he's served his time" envelope. His past appears set to follow him like a sinister shadow for the remainder of his life. But then he literally makes you shout "Wow!" at the television screen and if there is a more exciting and uplifting player in the NFL today, that person must be very good at hiding.

With a flick of the wrist, Vick can send a tight spiral sailing 70 yards downfield, whereas most of his contemporaries would need to put their entire weight behind a heave to get it past the 60-yard mark.

And when he is under pressure, Vick turns into a jack-rabbit with springs in his shoes and sprinter's speed in his legs. He is truly breathtaking to watch. But perhaps most notable is the fact that Vick appears to be a more mature person on and off the field - and he has certainly grown into a more rounded and complete quarterback than he ever was before his incarceration.

It should be a fascinating showdown that could go either way. For now, I am leaning towards a win for Rodgers and the Packers, who boast the stronger of the two defences that are sure to be under a great deal of pressure.

And Rodgers could certainly do with some cheering up - he is a massive Liverpool fan, after all!

Play-off Predictions

New Orleans Saints 31 Seattle Seahawks 13
New York Jets 24 Indianapolis Colts 31
Baltimore Ravens 20 Kansas City Chiefs 13
Green Bay Packers 34 Philadelphia Eagles 28

Play-off coverage begins at 1745 GMT on Sunday on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra with the Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs. It continues with the Packers and Eagles in the first of regular BBC Radio double-headers throughout the post-season. You can also catch play-off highlights on BBC2 at 0010 GMT on Monday 10 January.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hey Neil, I'm a Brit living in Philly. I'll be at the game on Sunday and I'm looking forward to a fantastic atmosphere. I'm a little insulted by the Millwall comparison, but Philly does have it's reputation! Come on over to the parking lot by McFaddens and we'll have the best tail-gating party you've ever seen in full swing!

  • Comment number 2.

    Eagles to gain revenge on the week 1 defeat by the Packers, remember back then Vick only got a 1/4 and he has all 4 to work his magic this time. And yes he served his time, redemption song will be sung with a Championship Ring!
    Although the Pats do look very good do they not.....?

  • Comment number 3.

    Andy... Sorry about the Millwall reference, but I think you understand where I was coming from.

    Walk among the Eagles fans? No thanks - not after writing this blog.

    Seriously, if we get time we always like to have a wander around outside before the game to soak up the atmosphere. If you see a balding, nervous-looking Brit strolling around your parking lot, feel free to come up and say hi !!

  • Comment number 4.

    Watts... I do think the Patriots have that Super Bowl look about them again. I cannot see anyone topping BRady and Belichick in the playoffs.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would love to see the Eagles lose but I think they will edge it... but do you think the Falcons are really unstoppable at home or will the likes of the Eagles/Packers/Saints (again) figure them out? SB prediction - Pats-Falcons.

  • Comment number 6.

    runelirun... The Falcons have to be respected for their home form and they did beat New Orleans and Green Bay at the Georgia Dome.

    Matt Ryan is 20-2 in career at home... but I do think there are teams in the NFC who could get hot and knock them off, the Packers being one of them.

    I really think it is wide open in the NFC this season.

  • Comment number 7.

    Neil - I'm intrigued to hear your views about the New York Jets.

    Granted, we had a few weeks where we weren't up to scratch, but given our recent away win at Pittsburgh and narrow defeat at Chicago, we surely have as good as chance as any to beat Indianapolis? Our offence is firing on all cylinders (hopefully "dreamy" Mark's shoulder will be fine) and although our defence has been weak lately, it can match any on its day.

    And let's face it, with Fireman Ed (and Andrew Diggles) in our corner, how can we fail? Am I?

    Jets-Pats AFC championship game

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Scot in Canada, I enjoy North American sports, but I'm disappointed to read so much recent NFL coverage on the BBC website.

    It's not a British sport, nor does it have British teams or representation, so why so much recent coverage of NFL but not NHL [Ice Hockey], NBA [Basketball], or MLB [Baseball]? All of which are at least global sports, in which Britain competes internationally. The NFL is a closed shop, that occasionally deigns to send an annual fixture over to Wembley.

    How about devoting more high profile coverage to the British Elite ice hockey league? It is a cult professional league contested by British teams and British players with growing support year after year, which never gets the media attention it deserves.

  • Comment number 9.

    Neil, as a massive New York Jets fan, I take exception to your outlandish prediction for Saturday's game..please explain? Also, Tom Brady is the Robbie Savage of the NFL, the very poor man's David Beckham with a hair cut that makes Will Mullin look like Nick Mangold! Go Sanchez!"

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Neil, As an Englishman living in Connecticut I have been enjoying your NFL blog. This is only my second playoff season so I am not as experienced as you but I have found that the NFL has really grabbed my attention and I now love the game.

    I agree with your predictions with the exception of the Jets v Colts as I think New York will just edge that one.

    Don't get me wrong, I know the Jets struggled for a while in the regular season and the Colts are a consistently great team. Last season they led to me winning a few bets against my so called "NFL expert" American friends. This season has been a little tighter for them but the manner in which they clinched their playoff spot last weekend shows what we know Manning can do again and again, perform under serious pressure....I just wanted to pick one upset from the 4 games though and figured the Packers v Eagles game won't produce an upset as either team could win it. The other 2 games should be easy victories for the Saints and Ravens.

  • Comment number 11.

    Super Bowl 45? Any NFL fan knows that the Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game. This year, Super Bowl XLV will be played on February 6, 2011, to determine the champion of the 2010 regular season.

  • Comment number 12.

    RoJoSal...grow up please and let's focus on the important question: Can Mark beat Peyton?

  • Comment number 13.

    Being a Bolton Wanderers fan first and foremost it's no suprise that I ended up picking the Seahawks as my team back in the 80s since I obviously have a place in my heart for the underdog. It, also, feels completely natural that no-one believes they deserve a place in the play-offs. Whether that is true or not it I suspect no team will relish a trip to Qwest Field. If you've put money on a Saints win I supect that you may wake up on Monday morning slightly poorer.

  • Comment number 14.

    Eagles to win on Sunday...somewhat convincingly and go on to win it all. Just be sure to ask the Eagles fans on Sunday how big a thing it will be for the Eagles to win their first SB in the Cowboys backyard. AFC, outside of the PATS can't live with the quality of the NFC.

  • Comment number 15.

    As a Seahawks fan, it's hard to say we deserve to be in the playoffs. But to deny us entry is to move to dismantle the division system in favour of two conferences. Maybe not a bad move, but as every team has to play everyone in their division currently twice, a more balanced schedule might have led to some quite different results, no? Just because they fall below the magic .500 winning percentage doesn't mean they don't deserve to be there. Even if overall they don't.

    And they messed up the draft pick in the process!

  • Comment number 16.

    I am grown up, and if you don't stop being horrid, I'm going to tell my Mummy.

    Mark can, and has, beaten Peyton, but I think the Colts will win on Saturday :)

  • Comment number 17.

    NoahWatford - the AFC hasn't lost the overall head-to-head interconference matches against the NFC since about 1995 so saying no AFC team bar the Patriots can live with the NFC is completely wrong.

    RoJoSal - I'm going to dispute Sanchez ever beating Peyton Manning. Jets beat Colts at the end of last season but that was when Colts had wrapped up the AFC Number 1 seed and Manning only played a quarter (and put them in a lead). Sanchez beat Manning's forgotten-his-name-already back-up.

  • Comment number 18.

    bluepominoz...maybe you would you care to share with us your views about the upcoming play-offs as opposed to just finding faults in other people's posts?

  • Comment number 19.

    Wow Niel, I didn't know you made predictions WITH scores as well !! Interesting to see how it pans out. Lucky you to be seeing the Packers/Eagles game live.

    @ ScotsSevensNutjob it's because even people outside of the USA can really enjoy this great game of American Football. I watch all the time here in Holland.

  • Comment number 20.

    Rodgers is a closet Kopite? Yet another reason for this Bluenose Bears fan (in Canadian exile) to wish the Eagles success this weekend. You're going to ride that Green Bay bandwagon until the wheels come of it aren't you Neil?

    Sorry but that's going to happen this weekend. You're spot on with all the other predictions, but the Pack are up against it in Philly and I don't see a win there for them.

    Early season you figured the Pack were all that and I argued that this would be Baltimore's year, with the Bears springing a surprise in winning the division. Something tells me that it's now or never for Ray Lewis and his crew. Much though I'd love to see Urlacher with the trophy, the Ray's Ravens have been the outside bet since day one.



  • Comment number 21.

    A few questions....

    RoJoSal (if that is your real name) - there is no need to nit pick Neil for trying to make it simpler for the average non-American to understand the ins and outs of the game, this blog is educational literrally and figuratively so please give credit where credit is due.

    Bluepominoz - the back up quaterback last year was William Mullin out of University of Vermont. Everyone knows Peyton has been flattered by his offensive line, of which Gary McCormick is a dead cert hall of famer

    HolyChurchofRevisChrist - Who do you gets more rubs: Sanchez or Peyton? I think that is the key to Saturday

    Where is Murph?

  • Comment number 22.

    Yep, Michael Vick has finally fulfilled his promise and you know every time he does a big play I feel like shouting "Woof !"
    Otherwise I agree with your predictions apart from Jets-Colts. I think the Jets shade it.

  • Comment number 23.

    To me the Patriots and the Bears have to be the superfavourites to contest the Superbowl which will be on the night on the German masters snooker final in Berlin which I will be attending.

    However, I am and always have been since I first watched the game (thanks to ESPN America) an Eagles fan and especially an Andy Reid fan. Reid is without a doubt the most attacking and most pass-orientated coach in the NFL and you have to admire a man who's been consistent at the helm of the Eagles and who has been consistently chosing youth and attacking flair. This team is full of rookies performing out of their skin for the big man they so obviously love and admire. Andy Reid is the Arsene Wenger of the NFL and if only for that I want him not only to be in Dallas but to win it there.

    Having said that however I simply don't agree with your analysis of the current state of the Eagles' play. These last few weeks (ever since The Miracle) their offence has been poor (and I mean really poor) because they were simply unable to defend the blitz and protect Michael Vick. Their defence has been pretty damn good, not allowing a lot of points and stopping a lot of drives. If Andy sorts the offence out they should match the Packers and we'll have one hell of a game. COME ON EAGLES.

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm not going to be making any predictions as I haven't seen 1 minute of this NFL season (moved to Australia and times are impossible) so haven't got a clue who's doing what outside of the box scores.

    I will continue to pull up comments that are worded as if fact when they are anything but though - no harm in that. Not only has the AFC been beating the NFC in the interconferences matches, it's also won 7 of the last 10 Superbowls. And the Steelers, Colts and Ravens have contributed to that total - not just the Patriots.

  • Comment number 25.

    Neil - I agree that this season has been good. Great if you ask me. I mean, coming from a Raiders fan - missing the playoffs is one thing, sweeping our division, and finishing 8-8, breaking our 7-season losing streak has been something else. I totally agree with all your wildcard round picks. I think the NFC champion will come from one of the wildcard teams this weekend - Packers or Saints,if they can stay injury free. Great as Atlanta is at home, I think they'll lose to Green Bay, and I also think the Saints will pip the Bears. As for the AFC, well, I cant see who'll beat the Patriots honestly.

  • Comment number 26.

    Poster N0.9 claims that Brady is the Robbie Savage of the NFL, the very poor man's David Beckham, well lets take a quick look at Bradys figures this year:

    Brady has an NFL-best 36 touchdown passes and an NFL record -low four interceptions, with his last pick coming on a Hail Mary pass in Week 6. That was 11 full games and 330+ passes ago, and that broke the record that Bernie Kosar set in Cleveland in 1990-91. And did we mention that Brady has now had nine consecutive games of at least two touchdowns and no interceptions, breaking Don Meredith's league record of six?, also has a passer ratung this year of 111, which is the 4th highest ever?, or that he also threw his 2nd perfect game this year?.

    Tom Brady, the sixth player in history to throw a touchdown pass in every game of the season since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978.

    Lets take a look at Brady and Sanchez passer ratings this year: Brady 111% & Sanchez 80% - Brady 36 TD 4 INT & Sanchez 24 TD 24 INT

    Now what was poster 9 saying about Brady being the Robbie Savage of the NFL?, clearly he is as deluded as the NY Jets head coach who seems to think that they will win the SB !

    My predictions for the playoffs:

    New Orleans should win by at least ten points against Seattle, the only things going for Seattle is:
    1> The weather is going to be cold.
    2> The Saints have lost two out of their last three games
    3> Everyone thinks they will win, which normally means the kiss of death!

    Indianapolis will beat the NY Jets in OT, the difference being Manning is a Elite QB and Sanchez is a mediocre QB. I also think that with Manning throwing only 2 interceptions in the last 4 games he is on top of his game.

    Baltimore will beat Kansas City, I think that KC will have no answer for Baltimores run defence, the only thing in KC favour is they have only lost once at home.

    Philadelphia will lose to Green Bay as the Cheese heads will be ready for Vick and rush him to death, you should also consider that if the Jets has not had some sort of collective brain freeze they would be on a three game losing streak.

  • Comment number 27.

    To all Jets fans... I do think you have a good team but it is not a team that is as great as Rex Ryan would have us all believe.

    Having said that, they could be built to play keep-away from Peyton Manning with LT and Shonn Greene carrying the load. This game and the Packers-Eagles one gave me the most trouble in terms of predictions. Ask me to and I can make a case for all 4 in these games.

    But when it comes down to it, quarterback is such a vital position in the NFL and with that in mind, I still trust Peyton Manning more than Mark Sanchez, although the Jets did show me something offensively in Week 16 against the Bears.

    It should be a fun weekend - off to the airport soon. Enjoy the games everybody.

  • Comment number 28.

    Neil,

    I can totally understand why you are not in favour of seeing the Seahawks in the play-offs. And you are probably right that it is wrong that two 10-6 teams don't get into the playoffs at the expense of a 7-9

    BUT....if you're suggestion of having the top six ranked teams was to go ahead, then what would be the point of even having a divisional based structure? Surely this means you are advocating just a NFC and AFC league?

    Why not keep division winners, but then reseed the six teams that make the play-offs? I agree that just because you are a division winner, you should automatically get a homefield playoff game.

    Would make interesting reading though for this playoffs because this weekends fixtures would suddenly look like:

    Seahawks @ Saints
    Eagles @ Packers

    Unfortunately given the CBA issue, I doubt the competition committee/owners will consider anymore changes before 2012 at the earliest.

  • Comment number 29.

    Neil,

    I fully agree with your analysis of the Jets. They are good but not nearly as great as Rex Ryan is telling everyone. THe Colts have been getting better ever since they have started to mix things up and have started to use the running game to confuse defences. Colts to win by 10 is my prediction.

  • Comment number 30.

    Neil,

    Why the hell is no one talking about the ravens? I bet if you asked all of the other teams in the playoffs who they least want to play I bet the Ravens would be near top if not. Everyone goes on about the pats but the ravens went their in the playoffs last year and blew them out of the water and took them deep into overtime this year. Theyve got a dominating run defense and surely Joe Flacco must be the most underrated QB in the league right now! He's led the ravens to playoffs every single season since hes been in the league (3) and that puts him in the company of the greats.
    Maybe im biased but we do seem to get passed over by the media a little!
    That aside another great column!

  • Comment number 31.

    Rustigjongens...do you happen to be a Pats fan by any chance?

    I find the fact that you call Mark a "mediocre" QB offensive.

    Actually, maybe you're right - guiding your team to the AFC Championship game in your first season in the NFL is pretty "mediocre". How did your Prince Charming Tom do in his first year in the NFL? Oh yeah, he was involved in one game and threw six yards. Bra-vo.

    You sir, are clearly delusional. Plus, Mark has better hair.

    I for one believe everything Rex says, and here's why we will beat the Colts (try and pick holes in this - it is flawless):

    1. Mark

    2. Santonio

    3. LDT

    4. Shonn

    5. Darelle (the man, the legend)

    6. Antonio

    7. Defense

    8. We're amazing at luring people into a false sense of security. Lions, Browns, Texans - we tease them into thinking they'll win and then BAM! Mark works his magic

    9. Peyton Manning bottles it in the play offs (50% win record ie worse than Mark's. So...)

    10. Colts defense - we all know how bad it is

    Care to argue? Thought not.

    Seeee yaaaaaaa

  • Comment number 32.

    Neil I do have one question.

    If the seahawks went on to win the superbowl as a 7-9 team, which would require 4 wins on the road, agianst teams with superior seasonal records would that make them worthy champions.

    Ok its unlikey and the saints win by at least 2 tds in my opinion, but a possibillity right now.

  • Comment number 33.

    During the season, the Jets went into Pittsburgh in a game NY really needed and won it so, I think this Jets team has a chance though I am looking at the Colts to win it. Wouldn't bother me if the Jets could nick it.

    Maybe the sport would not be any fun if it was clear who would take all the games and that goes to the Philadelphia/Green Bay game, it should be tight and though I hope GB takes it, it's close to a tossup.

    The other two certainly have their big favourites though I did hear one, in fact, you know who predicted the Chiefs to win was Missourian Rush Limbaugh and of course, he hails originally from Missouri, in case readers don't know, Kansas City is in two states Kansas and Missouri, believe Arrowhead Stadium is in Missouri. One doesn't want to belittle the Chiefs, I heard a fan say, hey, it was great just to have a winning record, 10 victories this year is as much as the 3 previous years combined. BUT if there was a potential for a big upset, I'd look at the game vs. the Ravens. Philly/Green Bay and Colts/Jets are close to even though the oddsmakers seem to have installed the Home teams as slight favourites. I'm sure the Saints will play a sound game and win by at least 2 scores.

  • Comment number 34.

    Jets V Colts, Colts have finally got their games up and running just in time for the play offs, I know a lot of people think this will be a close game but I think Manning and co will win this by 10 points.

    Ravens V Chiefs, Chiefs have lost only one at home this year( when they had already won their division) but I think the Ravens will win by 3 points.

    Packers V Eagles, people seem to be split 50/50 by this game, me I think that the Eagles with home field advantage will edge it possibly in OT.

    Saints V Seahawks, if the Seahawks score first and keep it close they have a chance, otherwise the Saints will stroll it, I see a Saints win by 10+ points.

  • Comment number 35.

    @35: Almost sounds like a prediction in jest, whether the Seahawks score 1st or 2nd, I say they are going down, however, even Neil and everyone must see, if one wants hype, if the Sea Chickens win, it would be "losingest playoff team ever defeat Superbowl Champions", quite a headline.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think the high average points per game is due to the NFL being a passing league (though the Chiefs got it done by running), and some of the CB and safety play this year has been particularly poor. Some defences are also having to alter their game due to the new tackling rules and I'm not sure they've all adapted yet. There are only five teams who conceded less than 300 points, and now eight teams conceded over 400 this season, both of which are a shift from recent seasons.

  • Comment number 37.

    Alright, we have an upset. I hope the NFL though examines whether it is fair to give a Divisional Winner a home game over a team with a much better record. Sour grapes maybe, Congratulations Seattle but if they get routed on the road, then we can all wonder if in some cases, the division winner should still to host a playoff, I guess it's fair.

  • Comment number 38.

    NEW YORK JETS WIN!! whee-haw!!! Didn't pick 'em but glad they won and they played a better game for Indy to almost kop it at the end, 16-17, could it be closer??

  • Comment number 39.

    Hmmm, I see my predicting skills are still the stuff of legends, up to now 100% wrong.

  • Comment number 40.

    Told you the Ravens would get it done. Was a bit worried after the 1st quarter but the defence shut them down after that, cant ask for more when you get 5 turnovers. Yet again provin ghow much of a battle hardened team we are on the road, lets hope we can take our second win at the terrible towel wielding Steelers next week.

  • Comment number 41.

    Just goes to show that even the best predictions ultimately remain just guesses...The Seahawks were well deserving of their win, it was great game to watch. The Colts blew it, giving the Jets too much at the death and allowing them to progess to an easier field goal. The Packers never looked like losing to the Eagles, even though the game was settled by an interception with 33 secs left and the Eagles missed two kickable field goals (that would have put them ahead). I didn't see the Ravens/Chiefs' game, but the score suggests a pretty one sided affair.
    Gotta love Wild Card weekend !

  • Comment number 42.

    The Seattle game was exciting and I don't begrudge them their spot in the playoffs. It's been a divisional setup for a long time and each team goes in focused on winning its division first and foremost and then worrying about it's overall record. If they got rid of the divisional system, then a lot of the great rivalries would be watered down. Divisional games bring that extra bit of intensity and dislike for your foe to the forefront. True the Giants had a better record, but they had every opportunity to win the East yet they collapsed, so why reward them? They had a better record but were playing awful at the end? Were they more deserving?

  • Comment number 43.

    The crazy season spills over into the postseason it seems - though only the Saints/Seahawks game really registers as an upset IMHO. As for the Colts, just to make the playoffs has to be seen as a bonus. Given their injury woes, they were always going to be vulnerable.

    No need to change the playoff requisites - bear in mind that 2010 is the first occurence of the situation that arose, and with eight divisions it was bound to happen one day. The NFL functions quite nicely as it is.

  • Comment number 44.

  • Comment number 45.

    So there we have it, the J-E-T-S bandwagon goes rolling on...all apologies accepted.

    MNGuy - to say the Colts blew it is one of the most inaccurate statements I have ever read. If you watched the game, you would see that the JETS did everything that they possibly could to lose it. I suppose that it is the mark of a quality team that can play so badly and still beat the reigning divisional champs on the road. So....

    Even Sir Mark only turned up for 3 plays - yet again, he knows how to deliver when he has to.

    On a side note, please can we discuss how good Nick "The Ledge" Mangold is?

    We've now beaten the Colts and the Steelers on the road, and ran the Bears close - anyone else care to say that this isn't a quality team? Thought not.

    So now we have Tom/Robbie Savage (as IanKimSinger so eloquently put) vs. Sir Mark. I'm excited.

    IMHO, Mark has better hair, and gets more rubs.

  • Comment number 46.

    Being a big packers fan staying up last night was well worth it. Heart in mouth stuff right at the end when the ref got in the way and the eagles picked up about 20yds!

    Loved the opening Kick off smash and the sack straight after that.

    Couldn't help but laugh when the commentator said early in the game "Nowhere to go for vick" and he goes and picks up 11yds and steps out of bounds....only him.

    I see no reason we can't get past the falcons this weekend. Starks looks like a decent tackle breaker and is something we have been missing most of the season.

    Go pack go

  • Comment number 47.

    The Brady - Robbie Savage stuff ends now! It's a bit more of a Gazza/Waddle look if you ask me. Anyhoo, it won't be a 40 pointer next week, but the Jets did nothing against the creaky Colts D to give Wilfork and friends any cause for concern, so a 30 point margin is going to be on.

    Fair play to Neil for calling the Pack on this one - Starks' yards are what made the difference IMO, but it was a classic post-season game. Chicago perhaps were the big winners though, they have to fancy the Sea Chickens at home. And to Neil's point about Seattle being in the post-season, for my money as Div winners they should be there, but should not have had home field advantage.

    And finally, big hand to Ed Reed. Unbelievable he was able to play, and he was the biggest reason the Ravens made the Chiefs look so feeble on offense.

  • Comment number 48.

    Phew finally the Packers are winning the close ones!! (why do we always let teams stay in contention??? it puts years on me.) At least we always give good value whether against the Lions or the Pats.

    I can see another Bears Packers match up ahead and more pillow biting for me!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    I was privileged to be at Qwest Field for a pre-season game last August. The atmosphere was simply awesome. This may be a limited team, but boy does it have a great coach, great heart and great support.

    So on to Chicago where, just to remind, Seattle won earlier in the regular season. And if the unthinkable happens again, how about the Packers to upset the Falcons, too, so that 4th seed Seattle can host 6th seed Green Bay in the Championship Final? Who would begrudge the long-suffering Seattle 12th Man that? Here's to 7-9 regular season, Championship winning season. How many other sides have ever got within 2 games of that?!

    Go Seahawks!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    [8. At 5:21pm on 06 Jan 2011, ScotsSevensNutjob wrote:
    As a Scot in Canada, I enjoy North American sports, but I'm disappointed to read so much recent NFL coverage on the BBC website.

    It's not a British sport, nor does it have British teams or representation, so why so much recent coverage of NFL but not NHL [Ice Hockey], NBA [Basketball], or MLB [Baseball]? ]

    There's a long tradition of support for the NFL in Britain. Just because you didn't follow it when you were here, or now that you're in Canada, doesn't mean that it's any less important to the small but dedicated following here in the UK.

  • Comment number 51.

    And just in case I forget - GO STEELERS!!

 

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