Here it is, folks. The best weekend of the NFL playoffs is upon us and there's some great games on tap. Will the Seahawks continue their Cinderella run? How many injuries will there be in the Steelers-Ravens game? Will Rex Ryan come out on top in a "personal" game for the second straight week? Will Batman save Robin from the vat of acid in the warehouse? Read on to find out...
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m., CBS: As far as I'm concerned, this is the second-most intriguing game of the weekend. Unfortunately, I'll be on an airplane for the most intriguing game, so I'll be throwing all my playoff chips in here. It is always a must-see affair when these two teams meet. They absolutely hate each other, and they beat each other up for 60 minutes, sometimes longer. My heart wants to make things interesting and go with the road team because of my affinity for Ray Lewis, but I have to go with the Steelers here. Big Ben is truly that in big games, and I don't see the Ravens' offense being able to do enough against Pittsburgh's defense. If you can beat the Ravens' defense, it's usually deep, and the Steelers have one of the best deep threats in the game in Mike Wallace. Give me Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 14.
Green Bay at Atlanta, 7 p.m., FOX: For some reason I can't really get into this game. The Falcons are a boring football team, but boring doesn't mean bad, as evidenced by their NFC-best season that earned them homefield throughout the playoffs. Then, you have the Packers who needed to win in the final week of the season to get into the playoffs and now appear to be the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Packers have a defense that can play with anyone. Atlanta beat the Packers by three points in the Georgia Dome earlier this year, and the Packers outgained the Falcons by more than 100 yards while Aaron Rodgers fumbled on the Atlanta 1-yard line. Matty Ice is a great, young quarterback, but so is Rodgers, and he will prevail here. Green Bay 30, Atlanta 24.
Seattle at Chicago, noon, FOX: The Seahawks are a great story. They went 7-9, used the NFL's quirky rule to be able to host the defending Super Bowl champion in the first round of the playoffs, and won easily. Marshawn Lynch went down in NFL lore for one of the greatest touchdown runs in playoff history. Now, they're rewarded by getting a chance to travel to Chicago to face the Da Bears. The Seahawks simply don't win on the road, and you can't like their chances too much playing in frigid Chicago against the Bears' suffocating defense. Matt Forte will have a big game for Chicago, and the Bears will win easily. Chicago 31, Seattle 17.
New York Jets at New England, 3:30 p.m., CBS: This is it. The game of the weekend. Rex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. A chance at revenge for a Jets team that was beaten 45-3 by the Patriots this season. 45 to freaking 3. Unbelievable that a team the caliber of the Jets could lose a game like that. In fact, the Jets beat the Patriots by two toucdowns in Week 2. That just shows the run the Patriots are on right now. Thirty or more points in eight straight games. No interceptions thrown by Tom Brady since Oct. 17. At quarterback, this game is a huge mismatch. Brady vs. Sanchez. But Rex Ryan is one of the greatest defensive minds in the game, and will have a good plan of stopping the Patriots. I think this game will be close, but the Patriots' firepower ultimately overcomes despite Brady's interception-less streak coming to an end. New England 31, New York 24.