MJD: I'll take New Orleans, 37-6. Seattle's only hope here is that they get some kind of supernatural boost from the home crowd. It's possible, and I think, despite being 7-9, they will have a tremendous, eardrum-punishing crowd. For 10 minutes or so.
Even home field hasn't helped Seattle much recently. They won their last home game against St. Louis, but before that? Rolled by Atlanta. Rolled by Kansas City. Rolled by the Giants. When a 10-win team comes into Seattle, they stomp a mudhole in Pete Carroll.
DOUG FARRAR: I’ll take the Saints in a 27-24 game that will be a lot closer than anybody expects. At the Superdome earlier this season, the Seahawks had as many red zone opportunities as the Saints – they just traded touchdowns for field goals.
That may still be the case once or twice, but with lead running backs Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas(notes) on IR and tight end Jimmy Graham(notes) a gametime decision, I’d look for Seattle to foil New Orleans’ protections and blitz heavily. And with Malcolm Jenkins(notes) possibly missing this game as he did the last matchup, Matt Hasselbeck(notes) could get off a few bombs as he did last time.
CHRIS CHASE: The 12th man may play a role, but it may take 13 or 14 men on defense to help the Seahawks stop Drew Brees and the Saints. Look, noise is distracting but not enough to swing a game between such disparate teams. My niece and nephew make a racket when we play Connect Four. Doesn't mean they win.
Seattle's goal was to beat the Rams. New Orleans' goal is to defend its title. It will show.
I'm reminded of that Dolphins-Jags wild card game in '00. The Jaguars went 14-2 that year, and played a 9-7 Miami team. Jacksonville won 62-7. This won't be that ugly, but it could get close. New Orleans 45, Seattle 9.
MJD: Moving on to Jets/Colts, over the last four weeks, the Colts have somehow turned into a run-stuffing brick wall of a defense, and at the same time, LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) has taken an absolute nosedive. He's back to being the same LaDainian that the Chargers knew and released.
That said, the Jets are going to have to run the ball to win this game, and the recent trends all point to them not being able to do that. The Colts like to get ahead early and force the game into shootout mode. If that happens, and it's Mark Sanchez(notes) trying to outduel Peyton Manning(notes) ... good luck with that, Jets. I like the Colts, 27-13.
CHASE: I'd trust Mark Sanchez more with my girlfriend than I would in leading my team to a road playoff victory. That's not to say Manchez isn't capable of getting the W -- he proved as much last year during New York's run to the AFC championship. But I get the "Lucy pulling away the football" vibe from him. Just when you think he's playing well enough to win the game, he takes a bad sack or throws a pick.
On the other hand, the Colts are limping to the playoffs as much as any team on a four-game winning streak can be. Peyton may be one of the greatest who ever lived, but without a supporting cast he's like Paul McCartney in Wings. Plus, the Colts are starting Justin Tryon(notes) at corner. Who's Justin Tryon, you ask? A guy who wasn't good enough to get on the field for the Redskins.
The whole "defense wins in the playoffs" thing has gone out the window in recent years, but I say it makes a comeback on Saturday. The Jets win: fittingly, by a foot: Jets 23-Colts 20.
DOUG: 17-10, Colts. Despite losing three of his primary targets to injury and severe non-support from his run game and offensive line, Peyton Manning has somehow led the Colts to the three-seed. One of the ways they’ve done this is through the use of run action, which is basically play-action with run blocking. It forces defenses to basically split their brains in half, and I don’t know that this particular version of the Rex Ryan defense is ready for that. In 2010 as opposed to 2009, I’m seeing more athleticism and less overall discipline. In addition, the Colts have turned their run game around recently, and Indy has enough targets in the passing game to at least keep Darrelle Revis(notes) and Antonio Cromartie(notes) busy.
On the Jets’ side of the ball, and though the Colts have allowed the NFL’s highest opponent completion percentage, I’m not yet drinking the Mark Sanchez Kool-Aid. The Jets made a lot of moves in the offseason to make up for the fact that they couldn’t keep up with Manning in last year’s AFC Championship game, but the questions about their quarterback still remain, especially in the red zone. The Jets may still be a season away, and the Colts have been here for years.
MJD: All I know is, one way or another, when this game is over, Rex Ryan will be tasting defeat.
- New Orleans