|NFL Playoff Matchups|
Wild Card Preview
Indianapolis vs. NY Jets
Saturday, Jan. 4, 4:30 PM ET
At: Giants Stadium
Game Analysis: The New York Jets are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are quickly becoming a popular choice among experts as this year's sleeper team. Look for Chad Pennington and Lavernaues Coles to hook up on a couple big plays across the middle as the Jets play-action gives the Colts two-deep zone fits. Some early success on the ground by Curtis Martin will keep the Colts linebackers guessing and slow down the pass rush from Dwight Freeney.
My Prediction: Jets 34, Colts 16
Atlanta vs. Green Bay
Saturday, Jan. 4, 8:00 PM ET
At: Lambeau Field
Game Analysis: Nobody goes into Lambeau during the playoffs and knocks off the Green Bay Packers, and this will be no exception. Even if wide receiver Donald Driver is sidelined for Saturday's game, Favre and the Packers will be too much for the Falcons. If Atlanta is to have any shot at all, Michael Vick must make big plays with his arm as well as his feet. The Falcon's also must keep pressure on Favre. If he gets comfortable in the pocket, he'll pick apart their secondary. But on the other hand, he has been known to turn the ball over when he tries to force the issue. Get in his face and the Falcons have a chance. Let him float around in the pocket and they don't have a prayer.
My Prediction: Green Bay 31, Atlanta 24
Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh
Sunday, Jan. 5, 1:00 PM ET
At: Heinz Field
Game Analysis: The Browns played the Steelers tough twice this year and came up just short each time, so I don't think they will be intimidated by the AFC North champs. Kelly Holcomb, who is filling in for injured quarterback Tim Couch, must play mistake-free football if the Browns hope to advance. This is Holcomb's first playoff start so you can bet the Steelers will bring the pressure early and often. The key to this matchup is how well the Browns offensive line handles the Steelers blitz. If Holcomb has time to throw, I think he'll pick up some of those big plays through the air that have been so elusive for the Browns this season.
My Prediction: I smell an upset... Browns 17, Steelers 10
NY Giants vs. San Francisco
Sunday, Jan. 5, 4:30 PM ET
At: San Francisco Stadium
The Giants may be playing the best football in the NFC right now, but unfortunately they have to travel to the west coast to face the 49ers. San Francisco is tough at home and they are loaded with offensive weapons, but the key matchup to watch here might be Giants rookie tight end Jeremy Shokey against linebacker Julian Peterson and safety Tony Parrish. Shokey seems to give the Giants an emotional lift with his fiery play, so it will be important to try to keep the ball out of his hands. Tiki Barber must also come through with a big game and keep the chains moving and the ball out of Jeff Garcia's hands.
My Prediction: New York makes this an upset Sunday. Giants 27, 49ers 24