2012 Divisional Preview: Houston vs. Baltimore

This is the third of four posts this week examining the Divisional matchups in the NFL Playoffs. Check back soon for the final preview:

The final AFC Divisonal Matchup features the Houston Texans at the Baltimore Ravens at 1 ET on CBS Sunday. After thoroughly demolishing the Bengals last week 31-10, the Texans look to continue their play against Baltimore. The Ravens, on the other hand, spent last week resting up for this week’s matchup. The teams did not face each other this year so Baltimore has the advantage of an extra week of reviewing film, though it had to review film of the Bengals as well. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Offense: The Ravens are led by running back Ray Rice, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry this season on the way 1364 yards on the ground. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for more than 3000 yards and 20 touchdowns while throwing just 12 interceptions on the year. The dual combo of Rice and Flacco gives Baltimore a potent, but not overpowering offense. The Ravens were 15th in the NFL in yards per game, but haven’t scored more than 24 points in a game since Week 11 against the Bengals as well.

For the Texans, it’s all about running back Arian Foster and last week was no exception. Foster ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over. Quarterback TJ Yates had a solid game as well, completing 11 of his 20 passes for 159 yards a touchdown. While running back Ben Tate wasn’t quite as productive as normal last week, the combination of him and Foster has been terrific all year and will pose a challenge to the Ravens’ excellent run defense. Continue reading “2012 Divisional Preview: Houston vs. Baltimore”

2010 Wild Card Weekend Preview

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Wild Card Weekend is upon us and it’s time to give some predictions for those games and more. This year’s wild card games are particularly interesting because three of the four games are rematches from games in Week 17. With that, let’s look at the games: 

New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals – Saturday 4:30 

The Jets had a big victory last week when they beat Cincinnati in New York to secure their playoff spot. The Jets were dominant last week, but Cincinnati didn’t exactly put out its top players. Cedric Benson will be back this weekend after missing last week and he is the main component of the Bengals’ offense. Carson Palmer had an abysmal week in New York, but a lot of that was due to the injury to Chad Ochocinco which occurred during warmups. A combination of exceptional coverage by Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis and the injury made Ochocinco useless. He got open rarely and when he did, dropped the passes. Jets QB Mark Sanchez will be making his playoff debut, which could prove costly if his inexperience shows. I think Revis will be the difference in the game. He shutdown the opponent’s top receiver week in and week out and the playoffs will be no different. This will allow the Jets to focus on stopping Benson and packing the line. The Jets offense won’t light up the board, but RB Laveranues Coles will push the Jets to a 21-10 victory. 

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots – Sunday 1:00 

This is the only matchup that isn’t a rematch from Week 17. New England has a lot of injuries to deal with after losing Wes Welker for the season in a loss to the Houston Texans last week. The Ravens on the other hand held the Raiders to just 13 points last week in an eight point victory. Tom Brady has three broken ribs, a hand injury, and a shoulder injury, but will certainly be on the field come game time Sunday. The Pats are expected to get nose tackle Vince Wilfork back which will significantly upgrade their run defense. While QB Joe Flacco has struggled throwing the ball this year, RB Ray Rice has lead the offense on the ground. With Wilfork back, I expect Rice to struggle and Flacco doesn’t have the arm to carry his team to victory. New England also possesses homefield advantage which will lead the Pats to a 24-17 victory. Continue reading “2010 Wild Card Weekend Preview”

Can The AFC Playoffs Get Any Tighter?

Week 16 of the NFL season is upon us and the races are incredibly close.  

Photo Courtesy of AP

 

Historically close.  

The San Diego Chargers blew out the Tennessee Titans on Friday night to clinch the number two spot in the AFC behind the Indianapolis Colts who continue their pursuit for perfection Sunday against the New York Jets. Besides the Chargers and Colts, the rest of the AFC is effectively up for grabs.  

Here is the current playoff situation:  

Division Leaders
1. Indianapolis Colts (14-0)
2. San Diego Chargers (12-3)
3. New England Patriots (9-5)
4. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5)  

Wild Card Leaders
5. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
6. Denver Broncos (8-6)  

In the Hunt
Miami Dolphins (7-7)
New York Jets (7-7)
Houston Texans (7-7)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7)
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7)  

The Patriots and Bengals are in the best place  as if either wins, they clinch their division. The Ravens and Broncos control their own destiny as well, but any slip up by them opens the doors for any of the Dolphins, Jets, Texans, Steelers, or Jaguars. So many things can happen, but let’s look at some of the games this week  

Jaguars at Patriots – The Jags travel up North into the Cold to face Bill Belichick’s Patriot team. After a couple of turbulent weeks, New England enjoyed its first real home win of the season last weekend and have put the Randy Moss saga behind them. Meanwhile, Jacksonville fought valiantly against the Colts last week, but came up four points short of the upset. This should be a great game, but I’m giving the Pats the edge mostly because New England excels in cold weather and Florida teams don’t. New England Continue reading “Can The AFC Playoffs Get Any Tighter?”