Friday, 12 January 2007

NFL Playoff Predictions: AFC

Like my NFC Predictions, I'll give you 2 reasons why each team will win, and then my actual pick. So yeah, let's jump right in.

(4) New England Patriots @ (1) San Diego Chargers
Why the Patriots will win:
1) Bill Belicheck. The coaching edge here is ginormous for the Pats... Belicheck is the best coach in the NFL, Marty has a 5-12 career playoff record and a track record of coaching with two hands around his neck. The Chargers are more talented, so the Pats need another good gameplan from Belicheck to slow down LT.
2) Tom Brady. Ok, these were like the two most obvious, predictable reasons ever, but it's the truth. But still, Tom Brady is real good. He's accurate and knows where to go with the ball. One other thing that gets overlooked with him, and this will be important against the Bolts pass rush, is that he has great pocket presence. He knows when to get rid of the ball and when he has a little extra time.

Why the Chargers will win:
1) The front 7. The Chargers have a great front 7 that will be able to slow down the Pats running game and should be able to force Brady to make some quick throws. They will need to be on their game so that Brady doesn't have time to pick apart the secondary.
2) Sheer talent. Say what you want about coaching and everything else... the fact is, the Chargers are the most talented team here. Obviously there's LT, but they also have the best TE in the League, a good O-Line, and a top 3 defense. There's not much to dislike here.

Who will win: I love Brady and Belicheck... they're smart, they've got a great track record, and Brady seems to almost always play his best in big games (except last year's playoffs)... but in San Diego, with all that talent on both sides of the ball, I just can't pick against the Chargers here. This should be an absolutely fascinating game, but I've got to take the Bolts in a tight one. CHARGERS 27-24.

(3) Indianapolis Colts @ (2) Baltimore Ravens
Why the Colts will win:
1) Maybe they have this defense thing figured out. I have my doubts about if they've figured out how to stop the run (I think that had a lot to do with KC being inept offensively), but maybe they have figured something out. If so, they are a Super Bowl team.
2) Peyton Manning. We all know about his track record... but seriously, he's too good to have another bad playoff game, right? Right?

Why the Ravens will win:
1) They can put pressure on Peyton Manning. If you give Manning time, he'll pick you apart. Absolutely, no doubt about it. But if the Ravens can pressure Manning, he'll get jittery and start throwing the ball around a bit, and the opportunistic secondary for Baltimore can take advantage of that.
2) The Colts still can't stop the run. Last week the Colts loaded up the box, and the Chiefs were either not good enough or not smart enough to beat that. Can the Colts consistently put 8 in the box again and still be able to stop Steve McNair. Well, let me just say that Brian Billick is a sharper offensive mind than Herm Edwards.

Who will win: Maybe this is just bias from my preseason Super Bowl pick, but I'll take the Colts here. I'm not real confident they can shut down Jamal Lewis, but he hasn't been that great this year. And I still have a couple doubts about Air McNair. Should be a very interesting matchup. COLTS 23-20.

What are your picks?