Twelve teams have made the playoffs. Four of them will be resting up this weekend. But the other eight are already in do-or-die mode.
Here are the games and my predictions:
Saturday, Jan. 8
4:30 pm (ABC)
St. Louis 8-8 at Seattle 9-7
Both teams are on two-game winning streaks. Both teams were outscored by their opponents during the regular season (in the aggregate). They met twice during the regular season, and the Rams won both times. Seattle was 5-3 at home this season; the Rams were 2-6 on the road.
Expect the Rams to run the ball less than a dozen times; 50 total pass attempts is not impossible. Seattle has a more balanced attack. Also, they don’t turn the ball over nearly as much. This one will be close to the end. SEAHAWKS BY 4
8:00 pm (ABC)
N.Y. Jets 10-6 at San Diego 12-4
The Jets have lost two in a row. They were a respectable 4-4 on the road this season, but SD was an impressive 7-1 at home. Of course, that single home loss came at the hands of…the NY Jets!
Brees vs. Pennington and Tomlinson vs. Martin. I’ll give the Jets the advantage on the ground and SD the advantage in the air. But the Chargers have a couple big intangibles on their side: momentum and home-field advantage. SAN DIEGO BY 9
Sunday, Jan. 9
1:00 pm (CBS)
Denver 10-6 at Indianapolis 12-4
Denver has won two in a row, including a win against the Colts last week. But that was in Denver, and that was against a Colts team with nothing to play for. This game will be in Indianapolis in a win-or-go-home scenario.
Indy’s offense is an unstoppable juggernaut. But their defense is a little suspect. Denver’s only hope is to score enough points to keep up and force enough turnovers to pull ahead. But that isn’t likely. COLTS BY 13
4:30 pm (FOX)
Minnesota 8-8 at Green Bay 10-6
GB is on a two-game winning streak, while the Vikings barely made the post-season after losing their last two. Oddly enough, the Packers have been better playing on the road this year; they are only 4-4 at Lambeau, and 6-2 away.
This is the first-ever playoff game between these two division rivals. Green Bay won both regular season matchups by the same score, 34-31. Minnesota doesn’t really deserve to be playing right now. (And the Packers are my ballsy pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl!) GREEN BAY BY 10