Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos
This game is in some ways a battle of feel-good stories. On one hand, you have what could be the last game of Ray Lewis’ heralded career. Lewis was the first player drafted by the Ravens franchise in 1996, and delivered a Super Bowl 35 championship, among many other memorable moments.
For the Broncos, the story is Peyton Manning’s return to the playoffs after a neck injury that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season had many wondering if he would ever play again. Manning silenced any early-season critics with his outstanding play this year, looking every bit as good as the Indianapolis version.
But these players have not been without controversy during their careers. While the accusations are serious in nature, it is important to note that they are merely allegations. The accusations for each player is as follows:
Peyton Manning: Accused over the span of the last 10 years of subjecting America to cruel and unusual punishment through dozens of commercials which have played at an abnormally high rate while lacking any elements of humor.
Ray Lewis: Accused of double homicide in 2000
Regardless of which player you believe to have been charged with the more serious offense, it is easy to agree that both players have had to overcome many hardships to get to where they are today.
The Manning-led Broncos look to be on a mission this year, but don’t be surprised if this game is much closer than the first match-up. In any case, this should be a very entertaining game for the storylines alone.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
These two teams met 18 weeks ago in a week one match-up that saw the 49ers prevail in Green Bay. However, much has changed since then.
The 49ers have changed their quarterback to the more dynamic Colin Kaepernick, and have witnessed David Akers transform from a Pro-Bowl kicker to a useless piece of garbage.
Since week 1, Packers players have appeared in 18,431 television commercials. Every time you turn on the TV you can be certain you will see Greg Jennings talking about deodorant, Clay Matthews endorsing life-size wall stickers, or Aaron Rodgers talking to a classroom full of children about comb-over procedures for home and auto insurance. Things have been escalating quickly.
Whatever happens here, let’s get the Packers out of the playoffs before we have to see Mike McCarthy half-naked in a GoDaddy commercial.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
Am I the only one who is sick of watching the Falcons play? They are SO boring. I can’t watch any more of Matt “Matty Ice” Ryan–which, by the way, is the worst nickname in sports. Matty Paint Dry seems more appropriate to me. This team is not nearly as good as their record would indicate and it’s time for them to lose. Besides Julio Jones, this offense is devoid of dynamic players. Tony Gonzales? Really? At this point in his career, even when he is making plays he looks extremely stiff. I feel like I am watching RoboCop playing tight end.
But seriously, if this team loses another playoff game, Mike Smith is in trouble. A loss in this spot would make it four years in a row without a single playoff win. There is tremendous pressure on the Falcons. If Matt Ryan can’t pull this one out, I think we should start calling him “Matty Ice Sucks Because He Can’t Win A Single Playoff Game.” It probably wouldn’t catch on, though. It’s too long and not very catchy.
In any case, here’s hoping the red hot Seahawks can steal a win in Atlanta this weekend so we don’t have to watch the Falcons one more time this year. I’m getting really bored just writing about this Falcons team. I’m going to stop now.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
The Patriots smacked around the Texans defense in their week 14 game this season, and it could happen again if Wade Phillips doesn’t wise up. If Phillips decides he wants to play single-deep coverage all day again, Brady will carve them up just as he did last time.
Leaving the Texans’ corner Brandon Harris one-on-one with any of the Patriots weapons is a bad idea. Harris is like a baby in a hot car, you just can’t leave him alone. If you do, he’s going to get burned, and you’re going to be in big trouble.
The Patriots are tough to beat in Foxborough, but with the proper adjustments, this game could be tighter than the first one.