Monday, January 3, 2011

AFC Wild Card Predictions

Wild Card: No. 6 New York Jets (11-5) @ No. 3 Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

The Jets come into the post season losing three of there last five games. A big win on Sunday against the Bills, while resting many of there offensive and defensive starters, should give them a boost of confidence. The Jets strong points this season have been there defense and run game, both of those being key in deep playoff runs. They ranked fourth in the league in rush yards per game, at 148.4 per contest. The Jets D ranks third in rushing yards allowed to opponents, at 90.9 per contest, and sixth in passing yards allowed to opponents, at 200.6 per contest.

The problem that the Jets face with the matchup with the Colts is there passing game. Mark Sanchez has been very inconsistent this season, and despite Indy's struggles on defense, if Sanchez makes too many mistakes, he will pay. The Jets average 202.6 pass yards per game, which is good for 22nd in the NFL. Sanchez will feel the pressure of Freeny and Mathis coming off the edge all game long, and I think the Colts D will have a field day on Sanchez.

Key to Jets victory: Tomlinson and Greene must combine for at least 160 rushing yards and two TD's. The Jets D must also create at least two turnovers.

The Colts defensive struggles have been closely documented all season long, Bob Sanders got hurt once again, and the rest of the unit is very susceptible against the run game and big pass plays. Indy's run D is 25th in the league, allowing 127 yards per game, and there pass D is a mediocre 13th in the NFL, allowing 214.6 yards per game.

One advantage the Colts do have is Peyton Manning. When Manning is on the field there is always hope for an Indy victory. Although we have seen more bad games from Peyton than we are accustomed to, it can be partially blamed on him having to play with a different cast of characters nearly every game. Wide Receiver's Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon have been in and out of the lineup all season, and Tight End Dallas Clark has missed nearly the entire season. The Colts are first in passing yards, but rank 29th in rushing yards at 92.7 per game.

Indy's running game is never one of the best, but in order to beat the Jets, they must establish the run to open the pass game. With Addai back healthy, he provides much needed help in that area.

Key to Colts victory: Addai and Donald Brown must rush for 120 yards combined and a TD. Manning must also throw for at least 280 yards and two TD's

Prediction: Colts over Jets - 27-21

No. 5 Baltimore Ravens (12-4) @ No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

Baltimore enters the playoffs on a four game win streak, and everyone knows that momentum going into the post season usually translates to success. QB Joe Flacco has played solid football this season, and RB Ray Rice is a big play threat both running and catching the ball. The Ravens receiver's, however, have been very inconsistent. Anquan Boldin has had a couple huge games this season, but, it has been more likely for him to not show up. Derrick Mason has been the most consistent Wide Out for Baltimore, but at 36 years of age, there is fear of a breakdown.

The Ravens D has not been as dominant this year as it has been in the past, but they do have great players on that defensive unit, that can create major problems for the Chiefs. Guys like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Dawan Landry have big play capabilities that can change the complexion of a game. They're gonna need to be on their game too, because Jamaal Charles is no joke.

Key to Ravens victory: Limit Jamaal Charles production and it should be a cake walk.

The Chiefs limp into the playoffs on the heels of a 31-10 blasting at the hands of the Raiders. Matt Cassel has had a great season, and Jamaal Charles has exploded as one of the best rushers in the NFL. Kansas City comes brings the top ranked rushing attack at 164.2 yards per game, and it will be put to the test against the Ravens fifth ranked rush defense. Dwayne Bowe has emerged as a good receiver, and Matt Cassel's favorite target. Bowe will need to have a huge game to take pressure off of Charles. Look for TE Tony Moeaki to get a lot of targets, as most of the attention will be payed to Bowe.

The Chiefs D is young, but they have some very good pieces in place, especially the coordinator, Romeo Crennel. Fifth year LB Tamba Hali has 14.5 sacks this season, rookie DB Eric Berry has had a great season, and LB Derrick Johnson has 121 tackles on the season. KC's D will have to have a huge game to help this team to victory.

Key to Chiefs victory: Charles needs to reach pay dirt two times, Cassel cannot turn the ball over, and there can be no big plays given to Ray Rice, make the Ravens receivers beat you.

Prediction: Ravens over Chiefs - 24-17

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