Jobu previews the NFC side of the first round of the NFL Playoffs.
In the last post, we took a look at the AFC side of things, and we found out that I thought that the Texans and Colts would move on to the second round. The NFC side of things features a couple of pretty exciting matchups, so let’s just get right to the analysis and my picks, shall we?
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers, Saturday at 8:00 PM
The Packers and the vikings is really the story of two players, and that’s AAron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson. Each will have to be at top form if his respective team is going to win and, as the regular season proved, even that might not be enough if one is better than the other.
The Vikings damn near had themselves the single-season rushing yard record holder this season. Adrian Peterson came nine yards short of Eric Dickerson‘s 2,105 yards from 1985, finishing with 2,097 yards and 12 TDs on an absurd 348 carries. AP had 10 games of 100+ yards this season, and even had 200+ yards twice and 199 yards in the last game of the year. In two games against the Packers this year, he ran for 409 yards and 2 TDs. At this point, can Green Bay even game plan against this guy? He has absolutely torched them. Oh and he tore his ACL last year… which makes his accomplishments that much more ridiculous.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they don’t have too many more threats on their offense. QB Christian Ponder was decent this year (2,935 yards, 18 TDs, 12 INTs), but it’s clear that he’s not the number one option on the field for this team. If the Vikings get down early, or somehow stop Peterson, and they have to go to the air to try to win, I don’t think it’s going to happen for them.
Victory for the Packers will rest on the shoulders of Mr. Rodgers. I hope he changes into his jersey and cleats when he gets to the stadium, cuz if he does, Green Bay fans will surely want to be his neighbor come Sunday (end overplayed metaphor now). It was a pretty typical season for the Discount Doublechecker, as he threw for 4, 295 yards and 39 TDs… yawn. I feel like Rodgers is so good that he could play left handed and still throw for 3,500 and 30 TDs, right?
The great thing about this Packers offense is that Rodgers doesn’t have a go to receiver other teams can focus their coverage on. He completed 35 or more passes to five different guys this year. At any point he could throw the ball to Jordy Nelson (49 catches, 745 yards, 7 TDs but questionable for Saturday), James jones (64 catches, 784 yards, 14 TDs), Jermichael Finley (61 catches, 667 yards, 2 TDs) or rookie sensation Randall Cobb (80 catches, 954 yards, 8 TDs). You can’t stop the air game.
The running game is a whole other thing though. The Packers have really struggled to find consistency in the RB position since Cedric Benson got hurt early on. James Starks and Alex Green really didn’t get the job done, and neither one of them really grabbed hold of the starting job anyway. Ryan Grant had a fantastic game in Week 16, but then only carried twice in Week 17 against the Vikings. To win, the Packers will have to throw the ball, and that’s that.
In the end, I think the Packers will run away with this one. I love AP, but I don’t think he can contend with Rodgers’ arm. The Packers will win this one 28-13. Write it down.
Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Redskins, Sunday @ 4:30 PM
If you like young quarterbacks, you’re going to want to be sure you tune in to this one, as it features two of the best young arms in the business today. Both QBs were on our list of the top rookie QBs of 2012, and I picked one of them to win the Rookie of the Year Award. What’s great about this matchup is that you can’t say that a more experienced team or players have an advantage, because the leaders of both these teams are rookies. This game will be the beginning of one of their January legacies, and I can’t wait to see it.
We start first with the Seattle Seahawks, who went 11-5 this year. They boast a pretty explosive offense, led by QB Russell Wilson, whom you all know I think is tremendous, and RB Marshawn Lynch, who has become one of the better backs in the league. I remember souring on him when he was in Buffalo, but since he joined Seattle, he’s been great. This year, he ran for a personal best 1,590 yards and scored 11 TDs on the ground. He also caught 23 passes for 196 yards and another score. Those are serious work horse numbers. Lynch carried the ball 315 times, proving himself to be one of the more dependable and effective running backs in the whole league.
WIlson’s receiving options aren’t bad either. Golden Tate (45 catches, 688 yards, 7 TDs) and Sidney Rice (50 catches, 748 yards, 7 TDs) might not have eye-popping numbers, but I consider them late bloomers this year, as they both really started coming into their own a little after mid-season. If Lynch gets the ball moving on the ground and Wilson picks the right spots to throw and run himself, the Redskins defense is going to be in trouble.
I can basically write up the same exact thing for the Washington Redskins. Robert Griffin, III, my choice for this year’s Rookie of the Year, had a fantastic debut season, putting up big numbers and leading the Redskins to a their first division crown since 1999. He can do it with his arm or his legs, which makes him very difficult to defend. If he chooses to throw the ball, look for him to try to get the ball to guys like Pierre Garçon (44 catches, 633 yards, 4 TDs), the ageless Santana moss (41 catches, 573 yards, 8 TDs) and even Josh Morgan (48 catches, 510 yards, 2 TDs) or Leonard “Hank” Hankerson (38 catches, 543 yards, 3 TDs). The point is that RGIII has a lot of choices to throw to, and can kill you if you don’t defend his running lanes.
If Griffin can’t get it going, like in week 17 against the Cowboys, the Redskins can always turn to rookie running back Alfred Morris. Morris had an incredible year, breaking the Redskins single-season rushing yard record with 1,613 yards and scoring 13 TDs. Against the Cowboys, with the division on the line, he ran for 200 yards, proving that the team can count on him to put them on his shoulders if they need to. The rookie 1-2 punch of Griffin and Morris is going to be tough to stop in this one.
I really struggled with who to pick for this game. The fact that the game is at home gives the Redskins an advantage, but both of these teams are playing really good football right now. The Seahawks finished the year with four wins in a row, including a three-game stretch from week 14-16 where they scored 150 points. The Redskins, meanwhile, are on a seven game binge of their own. Something’s got to give here, right? I’m going to go ahead and say that the Seahawks will be the ones to take this game, but I really don’t know why. Just a gut feeling. Seahawks 34-31, in Overtime.
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