Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wild Card Weekend Sunday games

Baltimore @ KC...The Chiefs are a surprise entry into the 2010 Super Bowl tourney...we looked at this team in depth early in the year and we marvelled at the young talent, plus the fact that they got to play not only AFC West teams, but their crossover Division was the putrid NFC West (they went 4-0 vs the NFC West)...the Chiefs re-established Arrowhead as a top stadium as far as home field advantage goes...7-1 at home this year with the only loss coming in a meaningless Week 17 game vs Oakland...there is some issue here with these #'s though...only once (Week 1 vs San Diego) did the Chiefs beat a team with a winning record...at a gaudy 12-4 the Ravens certainly qualify as a team with a winning record...despite the Steelers losing Big Ben Roethlisberger for games 1 through 4 Pitt still finished with an identical 12-4 record, but had a better Division record at 5-1 than did Baltimore at 4-2 (Week 2 loss @ Cincy and Week 13 loss to Pitt are the reasons Baltimore is even playing on Wild Card Weekend instead of at home resting as the #2 seed)

Ngata and Lewis...aggressive...good
 Sporting a robust 167 yards per game on the ground the KC Chiefs are the best rushing attack in the NFL...they will meet the top 5 rush D of the Baltimore Ravens...this is strength vs strength...the Ravens strength is Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Dawan Landry up the middle vs what KC brings to the table which is great RB play from Jamaal Charles (1,467 yards) and Thomas Jones (896)...Baltimore has their running game as a weapon too with Ray Rice, but they need the passing game to get re-established...

QB Joe Flacco has 24 TD's vs just 5 INT's in his last 14 games, but the last 3 games have seen him throw for well under 200 yards each time...Flacco is at his best when he is spreading the ball throughout talented players like Anquan Boldin, Todd Heap, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Derrick Mason, and when he gets Ray Rice catches too then the Ravens can really move the ball...For KC the receiving threats are not nearly as deep...Dwayne Bowe might be the best WR on Arrowhead field this Sunday, but the drop off after him is significant...Chris Chambers has been in and out of the starting spot and has had very little production...rookie TE Tony Moeaki is respectable, but his 3 TD's tie him with Jamaal Charles for second on the team...Bowe is first with 15 TD's...you see what I mean about drop off...add to that the fact that Bowe and fellow Pro Bowl Guard Brian Waters will not practise this week due to illness, and may not even be able to play on Sunday

Ultimately I believe that the Ravens will do a good enough job vs the KC running attack to force situations - plural - where Chiefs QB Matt Cassell (27 TD's...7 INT's) will have to make a play...that seems like a recipe for a forced pass that gets deflected by the ball-hawking Ravens D and ends up in the hands of Ed Reed...Jamaal Charles has never faced a D that will be as ferocious as this Ravens D will be this Sunday...as a result I can see the Ravens D forcing multiple fumbles too

Prediction...Baltimore 27 KC 13

Aaron Rogers vs Mike Vick
 Green Bay @ Philly...now I am just writing these blogs in order of game time, but could it be that the best is saved for last?!?!  Two intriguing teams square off Sunday night...the redemption story of Michael Vick and the Eagles (10-6) vs the last team to qualify for the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers (10-6)

Vick had a Pro Bowl season, but there is concern with his play as the League may be catching up to Vick...witness the #'s...0 INT's during his first 7 games when he was the toast of the NFL, but 6 INT's in the last 5 games, plus his completion percentage has dropped each of the last 4 weeks...we saw how marvelous he was in the last 7 minutes of that New York Giants W, but we saw how pedestrian he looked on Tuesday Night Football vs the Vikings...Vick rested his thigh bruise that he sustained in that Vikings game as he sat out the meaningless Week 17 game vs Dallas...he is vowing to be 100%, and more good news for Eagles fans as it appears that WR DeSean Jackson and CB Asante Samuel will be "good to go" according to Head Coach Andy Reid

On the other side of the ball we have Aaron Rodgers...Rodgers missed a game this season due to concussion or he would have amassed 4,000+ passing yards for the third straight year...that concussion was a result of Rodgers scrambling for several yards then sliding poorly and getting the brunt of a second hit (this one was to the back of his head) as he hit the ground awkwardly...the O-Line did a measurably better job in 2010 keeping Rogers upright than in 2009...sacks were down from 50 to 31...they face an Eagles D that is not as vaunted as units past...middle of the pack in most categories, but just #21 in the NFL for points allowed...Rogers lost his running game Week 1 in a 27-20 win @ Philly when RB Ryan Grant was lost for the season with a wrecked ankle...they also only got 5 games from stud-in-the-making TE Jermichael Finley...but Rodgers has rhythm and timing with Greg Jennings (1,265 Rec yards plus 12 TD's), plus the ageless Donald Driver to go with James Jones and Jordy Nelson...

Green Bay may not have an answer for LeSean McCoy

This looks like a game where the team whose big play guy makes the big play wins...for me that is DeSean Jackson vs Greg Jennings...both outstanding WR's...both Pro Bowlers...both game-changers...both will have their hands full as Jackson will have Charles Woodson to contend with, while Jennings has to deal with a healthy Asante Samuel...I see a potential wash here, but Philly canstill add LeSean McCoy (leading rusher and leading receiver for the Eagles) and of course Vick as guys who can beat you in multiple ways for big plays...

Prediction...too much big play potential for Philly...Eagles 27 Packers 17

Saturdays games are in the blog below... craig.ballard@hotmail.com