It's widely thought that the best part of the NFL playoffs is the first two weeks: the Wild Card round and the Divisional round. The Wild Card round is great because it usually includes an upset or two, and the Divisional round is great because it's the first week the best two teams in each conference play.
We'll go in chronological order here, starting with...
New Orleans at Seattle, 3:30 p.m. on NBC: There's much talk about this game because, well, Seattle is 7-9 and hosting a playoff game for winning maybe the worst division in NFL history, the NFC West. The Saints are the defending champs and earned a Wild Card berth after finishing second in the South to the NFC-best Falcons. Normally, this game wouldn't be in much question for the Saints, but look out. The Seahawks own what is the best homefield advantage in the NFL, plus there's chances of snow at Qwest Field on Saturday. With Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory on injured reserve, the rock totin' will be squarely on the shoulders of Reggie Bush, and we know what kind of a crapshoot that can be. Ultimately, Bush will have a good game, in part to show up his old coach from USC, Pete Carroll, who kind of threw him under the bus with the whole USC recruiting scandal. Matt Hasselbeck is back under center for Seattle, but it won't be quite enough. Saints 30, Seahawks 17.
New York Jets at Indianapolis, 7 p.m., NBC: This game is kind of a wash between two teams who aren't nearly as good as they'd hoped they'd be. The Colts have battled injury after injury after injury and the Jets have simply underachieved with a hit-or-miss offense and an underperforming defense. The Jets will be able to run the ball on the Colts, because, well, everyone runs the ball on the Colts. But Peyton Manning, in his building, should have a good day against a suspect Jets pass defense that has also been hot and cold this year. I think Manning gets it done. Colts 28, Jets 20.
Baltimore at Kansas City, noon, CBS: The Chiefs have done a lot this year. In one of the best turnaround jobs in the league, they've earned a first-round home playoff game behind the running game of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones and a stingy defense. Speak of the devil. Now they're looking face to face with the epitome of that philosophy in the Baltimore Ravens. The Cinderella ride will come to an end this weekend, even though Arrowhead will be rocking. Baltimore would go a long way in the AFC bracket if they didn't have to meet New England next week. It'll be a slugfest, but the Ravens pull it out. Ravens 17, Chiefs 14.
Green Bay at Philadelphia, 3:30, FOX: For the first time in a while, there is only team from the NFC East in the playoffs, and it's the hated Eagles. Michael Vick was terrible in his last start as the Eagles blew a chance at a bye with a loss to the horrible Vikings, then lost to the Cowboys on Sunday in a meaningless game in which they didn't play their starters. So that game meant nothing. But that Vikings loss should be a concern for Eagles fans. The Packers might be the scariest team playing in the first round and have the best chance of the Wild Card teams to make a run to the Super Bowl. The Packers defense is an awfully stout unit right now and doesn't give up much in the passing game. The Eagles can't run the ball. Sounds like a slam dunk to me. Packers 31, Eagles 23.