Both of my preseason Super Bowl picks (Ravens and Packers) survived wild card weekend and play again today in the divisional round. The Ravens manhandled the Chiefs last week in impressive fashion. Today, they renew their divisional rivalry with the Steelers in the latest in a series of close games. These two teams are so closely matched that it will likely come down to one or two plays that tilt the field one way or the other. I'd feel better about the Ravens if they weren't playing on a Saturday following a Sunday game, but I think they'll find a way to get it done in Pittsburgh.
It seems like people can't climb on the Packers bandwagon fast enough after their win last week in Philly. While it's true that a road win in the playoffs is a notable achievement, the Pack will have to play a lot better today against Atlanta if they want to move on. The Eagles made a lot of mistakes last week--including two missed makeable field goals--and yet they had a legitimate chance to win at the end. The Packers will have to take advantage of the every opportunity today and if they give the Falcons any breathing room, these birds--unlike the Eagles--will make them pay. There's too much hype on the Packers right now and not enough respect for the Falcons and their 13-3 record. It will be close, but Atlanta will prevail.
Speaking of hype, I'm still not buying into the Bears. They've somehow managed to win the NFC North and get the #2 playoff seed, but they're hardly a high caliber team. During the regular season they went 1-3 against teams still in the playoffs. And yet this week they get the best possible match-up against an overachieving Seahawks squad. It'll be an ugly, mistake filled affair that the Bears will find a way to win. Enjoy the fun for one more week Bears fans.
By the way, as much as I dislike the Bears and despise the Packers, I gotta admit that a Packers-Bears NFC Championship game would be the height of gridiron drama. The pre-game build-up would be insane and watching the NFL's oldest rivalry play out on that size of stage would be highly entertaining. But it would also mean that one of those squads would be going to the Super Bowl, so as a Vikings fan I have to pull for a far blander, but less painful Seahawks-Falcons championship contest.
Oh yeah, there's another AFC game too, right? I don't expect much drama here as the Pats will display clinical efficiency in dispatching with the annoying Jets. A satisfying end to what should be another excellent weekend of playoff action in the National Football League.