Wildcard weekend

 

It’s been a rough year as a NY Jets fan but I’m still excited for the post season games which start Saturday. A few thoughts below…

Saturday, Jan. 3rd

NFC: 4:35 p.m. (ET)   21:35pm (GMT), Arizona at Carolina

This is an interesting match up to call although most commentators in the US seem to think that the QB situation in Arizona combined with the recent ‘winning streak’ of the Panthers mean that it’ll be a home victory in Charlotte on Saturday night. The fact that Bruce Arian’s Cardinals have managed to make it through to January despite losing Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton is impressive but Ryan Lindley is a 3rd string QB and is sure to struggle against the Panther’s defense.  The biggest problem I have with Carolina though is that they ‘won’ the NFC South with a losing record 7-8-1 – surely a team with such a record shouldn’t make it through into the second playoff weekend? Although they have won 4 straight suggesting a bit of momentum, the last time they beat a team with a winning record was against Detroit in week 2. Whatever happens, I’ll be rooting for Arizona – they’re well coached, come from a tough division and have had some shockingly bad luck at QB.

AFC: 8:15 p.m. (ET)  1.15am (Sunday-GMT)  Baltimore at Pittsburgh

A classic divisional rivalry which should make a good watch but will probably end up in a 13-10 score-line or similar. The Steelers have had a great year on offense with stand out performances from Antonio Brown  and Le’Veon Bell. There are mixed reports about Bell’s leg injury from week 17 with several beat reporters suggesting he has no obvious limp. Despite not being the biggest fan of The Black and Gold (see AFC championship game 2010/11) I think this one is probably theirs- especially if Bell plays. Having said that Joe Flacco historically does well on the road in January (NFL record holder for most road playoff wins) so its hard to count the Ravens out.

Sunday, Jan. 4

AFC: 1:05 p.m.(ET)  6.05pm (GMT)  Cincinnati at Indianapolis

With Andy ‘One and done’ Dalton calling the shots you’d be forgiven for handing this one to Indy without a second thought. In the battle of the Andrews, Mr Luck falls on the right side of ‘The Dalton Scale’ (Chris Wesseling from the Around the NFL’s podcast QB analysis scale), with the Colts ranking number 1 in the league for passing offense.  That certainly puts him above Dalton.  However, I’ve got a feeling that this could be the year that Cinci makes it one weekend further. The Bengals rank 3rd in the NFL with 20 interceptions and Luck has thrown a few of them this year.

NFC: 4:40 p.m. (ET)   9:40pm (GMT)  Detroit at Dallas

The Cowboys have surprised this year to say the least. As well as stacking me up some great fantasy points, Romo, Murray and Bryant have more importantly racked up some great yards on the field to take them to an impressive 12-4 record. Detroit have been less explosive on offense – ranked 22nd overall. When Ndamukong Su was suspended for ‘accidentally’ stamping on Aaron Rodgers, it seemed that the trickle effect of this would swing the favour towards Dallas. However, now that this has been overturned and replaced with a fine maybe that top 5 ranked defense can put a stop to the Dallas triplets.

Whatever the outcomes (as the Jets are out I’m not that concerned!) Its good to still have football to watch in the New Year. In the UK you can watch all the games on Sky Sports.

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