NFL: Saturday Wild-Card Weekend

New Orleans Saints versus Seattle Seahawks

A lot of people have written off the Seattle Seahawks. Matt Hasselbeck is in his 12th year and has been hampered by injuries all year long. At his best, Hasselbeck has proved to be as good as any quarterback in the league. As worse, he can be very average. This year he’s ranked as the 28th quarterback in the league with a quarterback rating of 73.2. Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne, Alex Smith, and the much-maligned Donovan McNabb all have better quarterback ratings. Seattle is 23rd in points scored and rush for an average of 89 yards per game (31st of the league). On the defensive side of the ball, Seattle is ranked 27th against the pass. Seattle is ranked 25th in interception takeaways with 12. They’ve recovered 10 fumbles. There really isn’t anything outstanding about the Seattle Seahawks.

On the other hand, the Super Bowl defending New Orleans Saints aren’t anywhere near as dominant as they were a year ago. They’ve been struggling on offense all year long. Their defensive players simply aren’t creating the turnovers that they created last year. With Darren Sharper healthier, the whole defense seemed to be playing better over the last several weeks. If the New Orleans Saints are able take care of the ball (no Drew Brees interceptions or fumbles), the New Orleans Saints should be able to cruise to victory.

New York Jets versus Indianapolis Colts

This should be an excellent game. Unfortunately for the New York Jets it is not being played outdoors in the snow. Instead, it’s being played in the comfort of Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts are clearly beatable. Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are out for the season. On the other hand, the Jets are clearly beatable also. The Jets have not been pounding the football (still 4th in the league) as effectively as they did last year. On defense, you simply couldn’t run against the Jets last year. They are good this year but not great.

Mark Sanchez simply hasn’t matured as well or as fast as most of us expected. At times he has been very good. At times he’s been extremely average. I think the Indianapolis Colts will try and take the run away from the Jets. I think the Colts will squeeze their zones close to the line of scrimmage and that they will try to make Mark Sanchez throw the ball longer than 15 yards. If the Colts are successful in stopping the run, I just don’t think that Mark Sanchez is quite ready to carry a team on his back, yet.

Peyton Manning and the rest of his Indianapolis Colts will have a couple of opportunities throughout the game to make big plays. The question is whether the new people can step up. The answer is we don’t know. Hopefully Peyton Manning and the Colts can figure out a way to get Reggie Wayne free. If so, the Colts will win. If the Colts are able to run Joseph Addai effectively, the Colts will win.

I do think that the Jets could win this game, but it is unlikely. If the Jets can score early and then run the ball effectively to milk the clock, they have an outstanding opportunity to win this game. They cannot turn the ball over.

On the NFC side of the playoffs, I think there are two or three teams, if they get hot, who can go all the way to the Super Bowl. On the AFC side of the playoffs, who can beat the New England Patriots? They are clearly the team to beat. Right now, I don’t see any team (New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers) capable of going to Foxboro and beating Tom Brady.

0 Responses

  1. I kind of hoped the Chiefs would win because I like where they are heading but Baltimore is the team they want to be, efficient and power rushing, better at their positions and they just outmuscled them on the field. They still have a great upside and have a lot to look forward to. Or they did anyway before Weis abandoned his team.

    The Saints loss was a heartbreaker. Poor tackling on defense especially on that insane run. Williams needs to coach his defense better, stop relying on swatting for the ball and get the guy down. The defense was a lot better this year than last in that regard, but still needed turnovers and didn’t get them. Those rushes up the middle were strange and I didn’t like the punting. I think our team will be great for a while, we just need more depth and discipline. I hope Pete Carroll gets humiliated next time, but he’s in a position where he won’t learn from his lack of proper detail management and coaching. If he wins, its because he was great. If he loses, its because the team wasn’t great. Bleh.

    Jets Colts was fun for a bit despite some wacky bad playcalling. I missed the rest due to a concert featuring Mozart and some american composers. Kudos to rex ryan for finally beating the new Dan Marino in teh playoffs (yeah, that’s never happened before). I like Rex, I just get annoyed when he talks and doesn’t believe it, you can really tell.

    Improved Mike Vick is still Mike Vick. Bye Bye eagles. Nice to see that classic Andy Reid clock management on display too.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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