I'd like to start by pointing out a flaw in last week's article: I had the Lions in the sixth seed, when the Cardinals had the same record and had beaten the Lions earlier in the season.
That being said, neither of those teams would be in if the regular season ended today.
The Minnesota Vikings have sole posession of that spot after slaughtering the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
It's a shame that while this win has moved them into a playoff spot, it doesn't really gain the Vikings any extra respect—except from the Patriots, who are always happy to see the Niners lose. Imagine if Darren McFadden found himself in Foxboro next season?
Anyhoo...here's volume two of how the playoffs would pan out, if the regular season were to end today:
Wild Card Saturday
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Not much changed last weekend in the AFC playoff picture. But after watching the Steelers fall apart in the second half of their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, you have to give the Browns a little bit more credit in this game.
Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks
Here's an interesting matchup. A young, inexperienced Viking team traveling to face the aging, more experienced Seahawks in Seattle.
You have to wonder how Seattle would be able to contain the rushing attack that is Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson—and I'm not so sure the Seattle offense has been consistent enough to hang. Call me crazy, but...
Wild Card Sunday
New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jeff Garcia is ailing. He won't be playing like himself—but since it's the playoffs, Tampa has to start Garcia over Luke McCown.
New York's front seven will give Garcia fits for the entire game, and this one won't even be close—despite Eli Manning's inability to make a big play.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Diego Chargers
I'm still pretty confident in last week's prediction. The Jags are probably the most underrated team in the league, and they will take care of business in the opening round of the playoffs.
Divisional Round: Saturday Games
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots
While the Jags will have effectively gameplanned to shut down San Diego's offense in the week prior to this matchup, they won't have as much luck with the Pats' offense.
Brady and Co. open the playoffs by routing Jacksonville in a game that will be over by the end of the first quarter.
Minnesota Vikings @ Dallas Cowboys
This would seem to be a no-brainer. The Cowboys' only loss to this point was against the seemingly immortal Patriots. The Vikings slipped into the playoffs through the backdoor.
All signs point to a victory for America's Team—but not today. The Cowboys have prevailed in a lot of games this season which they should not have won, but they won't be so lucky in this one.
Divisional Round: Sunday Games
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
A game that appears to feature a great offense versus a stout defense—but ends up just featuring the great offense. Packers' RB Ryan Grant literally runs over the Giants, and Eli Manning never gains anything resembling focus as Green Bay wins this one with ease.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts
Easily the most exciting matchup of this year's playoffs. This game is a defensive struggle decided in the trenches. Joseph Addai is somehow able to muster a 100-yard rushing performance in a game where the rest of his offense is almost non-existant—and you can credit the Colts' O-Line for that.
Colts win in the final seconds, and Adam Vinatieri has nothing to do with it.
AFC Championship Game
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
This is almost an exact replica of last season's AFC Championship—except this time, Brady is throwing to guys other than Reche Caldwell when the game is on the line.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
Well, isn't this a treat? I don't think anybody expected to see these two old friends facing off in this year's NFC Championship game.
Unfortunately, the hype dies down by halftime, and Green Bay runs away from the Vikings convincingly.
Super Bowl Sunday
New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers
Hooray! The matchup we've all wanted to see is finally here. The legendary Brett Favre and his upstart Packers get to face off against Tom Brady and the unbeaten Patriots on the biggest stage of all. But sorry, Brett—the Pats are simply too good this year.
Patriots complete a magical season that puts them into NFL history forever. Let the asterisk chatter begin... *rolls eyes*
That's all for now. Look for Volume III next week, and stop by at my sports community when you have time to say hi.
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