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Inside The Wheelhouse: NFL Wildcard Weekend Preview & Predictions

Rex Ryan is winless against Peyton ManningNew Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks

If I had to rank which game am I least likely looking forward to this would be the top of my list. The Seattle Seahawks despite winning their division, are a seven win team. What that means to people who don’t follow football is, they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. Sure you won your Division but you didn’t against the “red headed step children” (I can get away with that since I am actually a red head) of the National Football League.

Seattle finished the season below .500. It was as if the BCS invaded the NFL and gave us something to complain about when it comes to the playoffs this year. What’s even more screwed up/BCS-like, is that the New Orleans Saints (a 11 win team) have to travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks because they won a Division & the Saints did not.

The Seahawks are the worst team in the playoffs this year by far and have a very slim chance to be able to do what the Cardinals did two years ago and run the gambit of being a good playoff team. Seattle is filled with players most of us don’t know and a Head Coach who was never a good pro football coach. It’s nice that Seattle won their Division, but if you didn’t catch my drift until now, they don’t deserve to be there.

New Orleans is the defending Super Bowl Champions and it’s as if karma has decided to give them a playoff bye in the Wild Card round for winning last year’s Holy Grail of Football. I don’t see New Orleans having trouble in this one at all. Sure they are traveling to Seattle, where the home crowd is a good one, but they are a total 4 wins better then the Seahawks were in the regular season and play in Division (NFC South) where there is actual competition.

Sorry Seattle, maybe I would give you more respect if you won 9 games this season (you know be ABOVER .500) or if you had better records then say the Giants & the Buccaneers (both 10 win teams & both missing the playoffs). It should be an easy Sunday for New Orleans in this one.

Prediction: New Orleans 35 Seattle 3

New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts

Sans the Green Bay/Philadelphia matchup, this is one of the games I am most looking forward to. There is a decent amount of intrigue in this game because you really don’t know who will win this game at all. If you asked me five weeks ago who would win this playoff matchup I’d tell you that I didn’t think either team would be in the playoffs.

If you asked me 10 weeks before that I would have said the Jets easily and would have figured this was the Colts playing a well rested Jets team who had a bye in the Wild Card Weekend. And if you asked me at the start of the season I figured this would be the AFC Championship Game for this season…again. It’s been quite a season for both teams.

Despite both making the playoffs and struggling at various points of the season, this is a game that will be interesting to watch for sure. New York was one half away from beating Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game last season and looks to advance this go around to the Divisional Round of all things between these two teams. The Jets aren’t the favorite team to win the Super Bowl like we thought they were at the start of the season but they are in the playoffs and as we learned last year with this team, ANYTHING can happen in the Playoffs.

This is your past decade Colts team this postseason. They are entering the Postseason probably the worst they have been in the last ten or so years. They are playing hurt and showing signs of being an older team. If Peyton Manning was not at the helm in Indianapolis we could be easily discussing a 6-win team with Head Coach Jim Caldwell on the hot seat.

The interesting statistic in this one is how dominant Peyton Manning has been against any Rex Ryan defense in his history of playing the game. The only time Rex Ryan has been able to get a victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts was in Week 16 of last season. The same game that saw Peyton Manning removed after the 1st half (which the Colts were leading).

Eventually all streaks come to an end and that’s where I see this one going this Saturday in Indianapolis. New York has a lot more to lose then the Colts and yes I get it’s the playoffs, but the Jets created their own hype. If they make an early first round exit then they will be looked at as one of the most overrated teams in the NFL history.

I think the Jets will live up to their potential (for now) and finally get that monkey off of their backs (Rex Ryan beating Peyton Manning). Indy just has too many injuries to be the normal January/February Colts of old.

Prediction: Jets 27 Colts 21

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Up until I heard the Baltimore Ravens were having some injury issues coming out Week 17 did I think this game was a fore gone conclusion. I really like what the Baltimore Ravens offer as a team and still think they are a Top 3 team in the AFC. At the start of the season this was my team to pick coming out of the AFC.

Defense wins Championships and that’s exactly what the Ravens deliver. As their defense gets older they continue to hold the par of a great defense, the same defense that won them a Championship over ten years prior. No matter the age of some of their players they are one of the most feared defensives in all of Football.

Similar to the NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks are the Kansas City Chiefs. They both play in weak divisions and don’t have the greatest of competition throughout the year (or competition that can be compared to the AFC North that the Ravens play in). But unlike the Seahawks the Chiefs are an above .500 team and won ten games in the regular season.

Arrowhead Stadium is one of the hardest stadiums to play as an opposing team in the NFL, that’s what the Chiefs have going for them the most in this game. That and we really don’t know how healthy the Ravens are going into this game. But like many teams tend to do during this time of the year, the Ravens can still persevere.

The Ravens were one win and Steelers screwup from having a bye week in the AFC side of the playoffs, that’s how good this team is. Despite the injuries they could be facing in Wildcard weekend I still believe they are one of the best teams in Football and a team to beat in the AFC playoffs. They are so dangerous they can take any of the big teams (Patriots & Steelers) to the limit however far Baltimore advances.

Prediction: Ravens 21 Chiefs 10

Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles

This is without a doubt the most anticipated game in all of the playoff matchup’s this weekend. The reason being is because this game could arguably be a NFC Championship Game this season and we are seeing it in the Wildcard weekend round of the playoffs. Either one of these teams could advance all the way to the Super Bowl should they win this Sunday.

Philadelphia comes into the game well rested yet, entering on a two game losing streak, a losing streak that could have been advanced to a three game losing streak had not it been for a miracle in the Meadowlands…again. So you have to question the state of mind this Eagles team is coming into this weekend, could it be a case of a team that checked their minds out in preparation for the playoffs? Or are they a team that has run out of steam as the season drew it’s final weeks of play?

Whatever the case may be the Eagles are still a dangerous team to deal with in the playoffs. At one point this season it appeared that it was almost certain Philadelphia would be the NFC representation in the Super Bowl. Now it appears that while that still could happen, they aren’t at the top of the list for now. A huge win over Green Bay may change people’s skeptics after this Sunday.

As for the Packers this is a team that owes their playoff standing to the Philadelphia Eagles, had not it been for the miracle in the Meadowlands in Week 15, the Packers would not be in the playoffs and the Giants would be in. So at the pre-game warm ups all the Packers should shake the hand of DeSean Jackson for that ability to continue to play past seventeen weeks of Football. Could the miracle in the Meadowlands (part 2) bite the Eagles in the ass? It’s quite possible should Green Bay win this weekend.

Green Bay is a team that is playing with their ninth life this season. They have dealt with their fair share of injuries and still were able to post a 10 win season this year. Obviously there will always be that “what could have been” had they been at full strength throughout the year. Despite the injury issues, Green Bay is here in the playoffs and appears ready to play this Sunday with their backs against the wall.

This game will prove to be the best game of the weekend and be the most intense throughout. I fully expect back and forth leads throughout the game with the Philadelphia crowd in it at all times. Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers will both put on a show at the quarterback position in this one while the defense live up to their names as solid defenders. This game has the making of a “Wildcard classic.”

Despite these two teams being ranked at the 3 spot (Philly) & 6 spot (Green Bay), they are evenly matched come this Sunday. What Green Bay has going for them is that they have played in Philadelphia already once this season (Week 1), won a game there and know what it’s no store when you enter the Eagles madhouse. Philly is a tough stadium to play in and is literally half the battle in a playoff atmosphere.

But with the Eagles being at home and having a lot of potential to make it to the Super Bowl, I have to give them the slight edge in this one. Like I said before this game will be back & forth and tightly knit throughout. This game is going to be fun for the common football fan to watch, while Eagles & Packers fans may need to take a trip to the Emergency Room (win or lose) in this one.

Prediction: Eagles 14 Packers 10

As always for more NFL coverage check out my sports podcast “The Wheelhouse” over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site..”

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You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected].

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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