Try not to get too depressed ladies and gents. The work week starts back up tomorrow, but before another installment of indentured servitude begins, at least be thankful we have two more wildcard games to entertain us. Yesterday’s predictions pretty much went as expected with both of the favored teams walking away with big victories and leaving both Whitt and Raj with only one team remaining before they’re “gone fishing.”
Today, however, we’ll find out the answer to questions surrounding four teams. Can the Falcons kill the stereotype about Atlanta sports teams? You know, the one about them not as good as they should be (*cough* Hawks and Braves *cough*). Can the Giants resurrect their run of 2007 once again? Can Big Ben lead the charge to what could possibly be his THIRD ring? And can Tebow deliver on Sunday? Without further adieu, you know how this works. Let’s get down to the predictions.
5 Reasons Why The Atlanta Falcons Will Win (Gotty™)
1. The Falcons short passing game should do enough to thwart the Giants pass rush. Look for Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White to shine.
2. Manning will have a big game with big yards, but it’s because he has to pass since the G’s ground game is nonexistent. As a result, Eli will toss an INT or two, maybe even a pick six and the Falcons should be able to capitalize.
3. Julio Jones versus the Giants porous secondary? Advantage Julio, who scored in every game during the final quarter of the season.
4. Michael Turner could turn out to be the x-factor. If Atlanta commits to the running game, it forces that overly-aggressive front four of the Giants to respect the ground attack of Atlanta. And if that happens, well, read #3 again.
5. Matt Ryan’s waited for a chance to redeem himself since last year’s playoff meltdown against the Packers. Over the past nine games, Ryan’s had 20 TDs, only 4 INTs and his sights are focused on next week’s meeting with Green Bay.
Score: 27-20, Falcons
5 Reasons Why The New York Giants Will Win (David D.)
1. 2007. This Giants squad looks just like the Super Bowl team from a few years ago. They’ve been playing playoff games for the last few weeks and look to be bringing that intensity to the post season.
2. The Falcons have a horrible defense. They’ve been scorched all season and Eli is going to pick them apart.
3. Home field advantage. In a dome, this would be a closer battle. But in blustery New York, the Falcons may be in trouble.
4. Matty Ice has been a solid second-tier QB, but he’s yet to win a playoff game. Last year’s beat down at the hands of Green Bay may be more than just a one-time embarrassment.
5. If the Giants front four get to Matt Ryan, it’s a wrap.
Score: 27-24, Giants
5 Reasons Why The Pittsburgh Steelers Will Win (Whitt)
1. Tim Tebow only has 12 starts under his belt. He’s essentially a rookie. The Pittsburgh Steelers, under the leadership of their mastermind defensive coordinator Dick Labeau, have a 13-1 record against 1st year QBs over the last 8 years.
2. “MANAMAN!” © Bill Raftery – The Steelers are going to play much less zone to keep Tebow from finding open receivers in space. Today, Timmy’s going to have to complete a pass to someone that may have a defender within 10 yards of them.
3. While they are fighting through some injuries, the Steelers are a veteran team that knows how to win in the face of adversity.
4. If there’s any team accustomed to the pressure that is playoff football on the road, it’s Pittsburgh. A road game would intimidate most teams, not the Steelers though.
5. Say what you will about the guy and his decision making off the field, Ben Roethlisberger is the toughest man in football and lives for big games. The same way Brady marched into Denver and proved a point a few weeks ago, expect the same from Big Ben.
Score: 17-10, Steelers
5 Reasons Why The Denver Broncos Will Win (J. Tinsley)
1. Like the Super Bowl, center Maurkice Pouncey will forced to miss the game. For those not in the know, a center is often considered the second most important player on offense and with Big Ben suffering from a bum ankle, look for the Broncos’ defense to pin their ears back and make life a living hell for Ben. I’m looking at you, Von Miller.
2. Willis McGahee, who has been just as important to the team as anyone, becomes even more vital. His tough yards will make it so whenever Tebow has to pass, Pittsburgh’s defense will have to at least somewhat respect the play. McGahee finishes the day with 21 carries, for 103 yards and a touchdown.
3. Tim Tebow’s going to either have a classic playoff debut or one of the worst of all time. I’m siding with the positive, which includes another last minute drive resulting in a touchdown to send Denver to the next round.
4. Special teams is a vital, yet under-appreciated aspect of the game. If it comes right down to a game winning kick, there may not be another kicker in the game more primed for the moment than Matt Prater. What DUI?
5. Conspiracy theory alert! Can you imagine the media coverage if the Broncos made the Super Bowl? There’s a chance the Pope would attend the game.
Score: 19-17, Broncos