Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Friday, January 08, 2010

NFL Wild Card Playoff Weekend 2010

(A.J. Hawk tackles Larry Fitzgerald.)

The coolest scenario for the Super Bowl would've been the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts meeting after both going undefeated in the regular season – but both lost games in the final weeks. A franchise like the Saints, who have never won a league championship, winning the whole thing would still be neat. Still, I'm rooting for my team, the Packers, who aren't the favorites and shouldn't be, but have a decent chance if they play well. The playoff schedule can be seen here.

The most unusual aspect of this upcoming weekend is that three - three - games are rematches from last week (week 17, the last of the regular season). An immediate rematch isn't uncommon in the Wild Card Round, and rematches in the playoffs overall from the regular season are quite common. Still, I can't remember ever seeing three in the Wild Card Round, and two of those matches are even on the same fields. It's the Philadelphia Eagles at the Dallas Cowboys again and the Green Bay Packers at the Arizona Cardinals again. Meanwhile, the New York Jets play the Cincinnati Bengals again, but in Cincinnati this time.

For the past decade or so, seeding has generally been more predicative of progression in the NFC playoffs than in the AFC (although this has not been the case for the past two years). This season, the seeding going in is:


1- Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
2 – San Diego Chargers (13-3)
3- New England Patriots (10-6)
4 – Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
5- New York Jets (9-7)
6 – Baltimore Ravens (9-7)


1- New Orleans Saints (13-3)
2 – Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
3- Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
4 – Arizona Cardinals (10-6)
5- Green Bay Packers (11-5)
6 – Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

With the New Orleans Saints slumping late in the season, and almost all the other playoff teams in the NFC playing inconsistently in the final stretch, the conference championship seems more up for grabs than usual. It depends on "which team" shows up. Normally I'd say the Philadelphia Eagles were a very dangerous #6 seed, but they were shut out by their division rivals the Cowboys last week, losing them the division, and they play the Cowboys again in Dallas this week. In the AFC, I'd be surprised if one of the top three seeds didn't win the conference. The Colts have looked very good, but the Patriots have a knack for beating them when the two meet in the playoffs (the Colts won in a squeaker in their regular season matchup). We'll see.

A wild card making it to the Super Bowl, yet alone winning, used to be rare – prior to 1997, only one team had won the championship that route. However, currently five wild card teams have won a Super Bowl, with the 2007-2008 New York Giants and 2005-2006 Pittsburgh Steelers being the most recent. Both had to win all their games on the road, but they did it. Home field is traditionally an advantage, but as always, minimizing injuries, specific matchups and peaking at the right time matter even more. Anyway, I'm planning to catch all the games this weekend. Who are you backing?


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't count the Packers out. They're playing great football now.

(Although I'll be rooting for my Philadelphia Eagles, the Pack is probably my reserve rooting interest.)

Anonymous said...

I'm the same "Anonymous" from above.

Oh well.

Batocchio said...

Yeah, rough for both our teams, huh? I thought when the Packers won the coin toss in OT, they might just have it... The Packers defense only forced one punt.