The 2014 NFL playoffs are upon us. And while that means that the regular season is over (unfortunately), the playoffs typically provides football fans with the most exciting football of the season (except if you are a Florida State fan – ouch).
Juicy storylines are abound during this wildcard weekend. There is a divisional rematch that happens the feature the best rivalry in the NFL right now (Steelers-Ravens). Folks are still waiting for the Bengals to win a playoff game for the first time in 1,000 years. There is a matchup of one of the NFL the top offenses hosting the league’s top defense. And finally there is this sub-.500 team that is somehow in the playoffs.
Let the games begin…
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers. There is not a better playoff game than one that features one of the nastiest, vicious rivalries in the NFL. Three times these teams met in the playoffs, and my Steelers have won all three. Like this contest, all three have been in Pittsburgh.
So the question now is, is this the year where the Ravens will FINALLY break through against the arch-rival Steelers? I don’t think so, and it’s because it’s in the Ravens’ heads. WR Torrey Smith complained about how bad the Heinz Field turf is. The rest of the Ravens are chirping about how much they dislike – and respect – the Steelers.
Doesn’t matter that the both teams’ secondaries suck. Doesn’t matter that both QBs are big-time in the postseason. The fact of the matter is that Pittsburgh has the edge on Baltimore in one important area – in between the ears. And that will be all the difference. Steelers 30, Ravens 27.
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts. Will the Bengals win their first playoff game in what seems like an eternity? On paper, they should. They have a better running game led by Jeremy Hill, better wide receivers led by A.J. Green, and a FAR better defense. Unfortunately Cincinnati is deficient in the most important areas: QB and head coach. Andy Dalton could not shine Andrew Luck’s shoes, and Chuck Pagano will coach circles around Marvin Lewis.
That, and the home-field, will be the difference for Indianapolis. Hopefully for Bengals fans Cincinnati will be looking for a new head coach and starting QB in the offseason. Colts 24, Bengals 13.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers. This is by far the worst of the four wildcard games. This game features a team, while well coached by Bruce Arians, that is devoid of a QB and team that is below .500. I mean sure there is a bit of star power with Cam Newton, but let’s be honest about something: this is not a sexy matchup at all.
However, for those who love defense (like yours’ truly) this is the game to watch. I don’t see either team scoring 20 points. And in a QB-driven league, I have to go with the team with the best QB. Kinda feel bad for the announcers calling this game… Panthers 17, Cardinals 13.
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys. This is the easily the best matchup of the weekend. A top-flight offense hosting one of the best defenses, led by ankle stomper Ndamukong Suh. I would go into more detail of this matchup – including how the Cowboys new “Triplets” Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray will have their way against the Lions’ defense and how Matt Stafford will continue his spotty QB play in Dallas – but it’s getting late and I am tired. Add my disdain of the Cowboys and you have yourselves a black dude who is now in a bad mood.
One more thing before I throw up in my mouth, this will be an epic curb-stomping. Cowboys 34, Lions 16 (now I feel dirty)…