It was an early September afternoon when some National Football League game picks were released for the opening week of the season. A prognosticator made a bold prediction. My exact words were ” I’m calling for a changing of the guard in the AFC South. Houston will dethrone Indianapolis as kings of this division.” Readers, and even his fellow blogger questioned his sanity, and rightfully so. The Colts have the AFC South crown seven out of the last eight seasons since 2003. Who would dare go against such a background? That “expert” would be me. Given Houston’s offseason improvements on the defensive side of the roster, and an offense that could shoot it out with any team in the league, I sipped the Texans’ Kool-Aid.
To my credit, the Texans won that game, but as the season progressed, we learned who they really were. Indianapolis’ 2010 also told a rather interesting story. The team suffered injuries, its defense struggled to defend and Peyton Manning went into a rare funk, which included six interceptions in a three game span. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars posed a temporary threat in trying to snatch the trophy that Indianapolis is all too familiar with. In the midst of all that, Jacksonville’s crumble and substitute players who would likely never get drafted from a fantasy draft board, were instrumental in the Colts four-game winning streak, leading to another division crown. The biggest element in this run, Peyton Manning. When needed most, he provided. Maybe he didn’t have an MVP season this time around, but he showed the kind of resolve that gave me the following wake-up call, “THE AFC SOUTH TITLE STAYS IN INDY AS LONG AS PEYTON MANNING’S AROUND”.
While one continues, another ends. Unlike past postseasons, both teams from the previous Super Bowl have advanced to the playoffs. How will the defending Super Bowl and AFC champions fair in wild card weekend?
Saints over Seahawks- To echo my fellow blogger Keith Madyun’s blurb from his 2011 Playoff Preview, “Even Seahawks fans can’t be happy with this!” I mean Seattle doesn’t deserve sole blame for the NFC West being the division it is, but a 7-9 record is nothing to boast about. This isn’t to say Seattle will not come to play, but New Orleans, the defending champions, can’t have their title defense ended in this fashion.
Colts over Jets– When I think of this match-up, the words “veteran savvy” come to mind, revolving specifically around the quarterback position. I don’t think Mark Sanchez is at that place where he can pick away at the vulnerable spots of Indianapolis’ defense.
Ravens over Chiefs– Baltimore’s defense has given up substantial rushing yards against teams that run the ball. Kansas City runs the ball better than anybody can. This game however, will not come down to the numbers. Desire will be determining factor in this game. Kansas City is an organization that seems to be heading in the right direction. Baltimore is built with players that are hungry. There’s a reason Anquain Boldin flew Arizona’s coop. Do you think Ed Reed doesn’t want what Ray Lewis has? For that matter, you think Ray Lewis doesn’t want another helping of what he already has?
Packers over Eagles- Who is the one team that no division winner wants to see in Wildcard Weekend? My answer is Green Bay. If not for injuries, Aaron Rodgers would be in serious consideration for MVP. Michael Vick hands down owns the greatest redemption/comeback story in NFL today, if not all of sports. He can be pressured, if applied correctly. Couple that with the Pack’s number one scoring defense and there’s your recipe for a sixth seed moving on to the division round.
There’s only one shot to advance…who will seize their opportunities?
By Antoine Hoffman