(Note: I wrote this yesterday, but forgot to post it to the main page)
The fun part of Wildcard weekend is that you don't have to decide on both games up front. What happens today at 4:30 could alter what we want to have happen tomorrow.
Jets at Bengals
I've been saying for weeks that the Jets were the worst team in the playoff hunt. Rex Ryan can shove his "Defense and Run game" crap. Passing wins in the NFL now, and the Jets have the worst QB in the playoffs. I absolutely desperately want the Colts to play them in round one because I'm convinced Indy will stomp them. Remember that the only reason the game two weeks ago was close was because of a long kickoff return (something the Colts haven't given up many of this year).
The Bengals wouldn't be a bad opponent for Indy either, but I trust Carson Palmer ever so slightly more than Mark Sanchez. The interesting thing about the Bengals is that they gave the Chargers fits a few weeks ago, and if not for a bizarre 20 yard bounce on a fumble, might have beaten San Diego. So if the Bengals beat the Jets, and I expect them to, it could affect how I see the second game. If the Jets win, I'll be pulling all the harder for the Pats. If the Bengals win, it becomes a lot easier to talk myself into the Ravens.
Ravens at Patriots
I want the Chargers to be tested. I think the best test for them is the Patriots. Until the Welker injury, I was convinced the Pats were still the #2 team in conference. There's not much point on breaking down the relative merits of the Pats verses Chargers until next week. I expect the Pats to win comfortably, though I obviously won't shed any tears if they don't.
The Ravens are a weird team. Their point differential is almost identical to the Chargers. It's also way better than Indy's, but those last two games threw all Colts stats for the season totally out of whack. The Ravens, not unlike the Colts, have massive problems at kicker, as Billy Cundiff hasn't been any better than Hauschka who he replaced. The Ravens were outscored by winning teams 204-173 on the year (2-7), but CRUSHED losing teams (and 8-8 Denver) finishing 7-0 and out scoring them 218-57. Beating up on bad teams is actually a good indicator of team strength, so it may very well be that the Ravens are good. Still, they have a weak secondary, and good teams had little trouble scoring on them, averaging nearly 23 points a game. Indy only put up 17, but remember that Santi fumbled at the goal line. A touch down there would have changed the complextion of that game dramatically. I won't be worried if they come to Indy, but I'd just as soon avoid them. If they do win, I'll take comfort only if the Bengals beat the Jets and play San Diego.