With three weeks left in the 2009 NFL season the playoff picture is still unclear. The NFC is wrapped up in NFC East drama and the AFC has four teams vying for the last wild card spot with a 7-6 record. All the while, there may be two undefeated teams in the postseason. Suddenly I am worried that this will not end in a historic match up between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. Alas, before we get to that February 7th game at LandShark Stadium in Miami more than a month of football has to play out, so I say why not offer a few predictions.
NFC East: The Dallas Cowboys are in their annual December free fall and the Philadelphia Eagles claimed the season series after beating the New York Giants twice in the regular season, so even if the Giants win the next three and the Eagles only pick up one win and the NFC East has two teams with a 10-6 record the Eagles win the East.
NFC North: The Minnesota Vikings are one win from the clinching the division and with the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears coming up in the next two weeks that win is all but guaranteed.
NFC South: The New Orleans Saints have already clinched this division so this is one call I cannot get wrong.
NFC West: The Arizona Cardinals have a three game lead over the San Francisco 49ers with four games left. Even if Arizona loses Monday night to the 49ers the next two games are against the Lions and Rams so they should win 10 games on the season and pick up the division.
Wild Card: The Green Bay Packers already pretty much guaranteed a wild card position after beating the Chicago Bears. I have a feeling the Cowboys will lose two of their last three games (their last three opponents ate the Saints, Redskins, and Eagles), which will give the Giants the chance they need to tie Dallas and take the last wild card spot with their tie breaker (they won both division games against the Cowboys).
- New Orleans Saints (1)
- Minnesota Vikings (2)
- Arizona Cardinals (3)
- Philadelphia Eagles (4)
- Green Bay Packers (5)
- New York Giants (6)
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants: The Arizona Cardinals offense will prove too explosive for the New York Giants secondary and the same Cardinals defense that stopped Adrian Peterson will limit Jacobs and Bradshaw, taking away the play action and ultimately being the Giants demise.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers: The Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers have a potential to be a shootout, but this game will be a typical game with scoring in the 20s on both sides. Ultimately the Packers will win in anticlimactic fashion, as the Eagles suffer one of the abysmal stretches that have made the season frustrating at times for Philadelphia football fans.
New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers: The New Orleans Saint will put on a show, coming out with the explosive offense that they began the season with and making the Packers faithful wish the team had lost a respectable game in the first round.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals beat the Vikings at home, but the Vikings will turn the tables with Arizona coming to Minnesota to play. Peterson will have a respectable game and force the Cardinals to load the box, opening the rest of the field for Favre and which ever target he chooses to make a star that day.
NFC Championship Game:
New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Saints and Vikings will both play impressively, but the Saints array of weapons will simply be too much for the Vikings. The tough time the Saints had trying to finish 16-0 will come in handy here as they are more prepared for a close game than the Vikings, who have not had to play a close game since Week 6.
AFC East: I would love to say that somehow the Miami Dolphins or the New York Jets pull out an incredible end of the season run and overcome the New England Patriots, but the Pats schedule is the softest of the three and they already have a one-game lead. The Patriots take the division as a rift grows between Brady and Moss.
AFC North: This one is easy. The Cincinnati Bengals will win at least tow of the last three games and clinch the division outright.
AFC South: The Indianapolis Colts have already clinched the division and home field advantage.
AFC West: Never bet against the San Diego Chargers late in the season. They have a two game lead over the Broncos and will win the division for the fifth time in six years.
Wild Card: The Denver Broncos have two definite wins coming up, with one in Week 15 when the Raiders come to Mile High and in Week 17 when the Chiefs come to town. The Ravens, Dolphins, Jets, and Jaguars are all 7-6 and the Steelers, Texans, and Titans are 6-7. They all have a chance to win the Wild Card with three games left. The question is which team can win nine games. The Jets, Titans, and Steelers most likely cannot. There are too many teams that play each other to give anything but a gut reaction. My gut says the Texans pick up an easy win in St. Louis, simply score too fast for the Dolphins, and exploit the Patriots team as they teeter on the edge of self-destruction.
- Indianapolis Colts (1)
- San Diego Chargers (2)
- Cincinnati Bengals (3)
- New England Patriots (4)
- Denver Broncos (5)
- Houston Texans (6)
Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans: The Texans run ends in Cincinnati where the Bengals defense stops the run and pesters Matt Schaub all day long. Carson Palmer, Ochocinco, and which ever running back is healthy enough to start put together a solid, but understated game in the win.
New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos: The Patriots come in looking for revenge, but the Broncos play with solidarity as brooding dominates the news coming out of Foxboro all week before the game. The Broncos just have that magic air around them this season.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos: Unfortunately that sense of purpose from the Broncos is thwarted by Peyton Manning and his ability to dissect any defense. The Colts will win this game. It may not be pretty, and will most likely come down to a last minute drive by the Colts.
San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: The Chargers are playing great and are winning without setting up a running game. Most of the time this will draw doubters, but against the Bengals this is an advantage. San Diego will win and meet the Colts in the AFC Championship game.
AFC Championship Game:
Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers:
It is just hard to believe that two undefeated teams will meet in the Super Bowl. It is hard enough to believe that the two number-one seeded teams will meet in the big game. The Chargers have eliminated the Colts the past two years in the postseason and carry on that tradition this season.
New Orleans Saints vs. San Diego Chargers
This will be an incredible game that will make sure that these
will not be a dud. I expect this to be the highest scoring Super Bowl game in history, eclipsing the combined 69 points put up in
by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders. This game will be closer though, as the Bucs destroyed the Raiders. The Saints should win though. They have more weapons and the storyline that will allow Drew Brees to beat the team that chose Philip Rivers over him is irresistible (even though I think both teams and players are satisfied with the results over the years).