2008-2009 NFL Playoff Schedule
Can a Newcomer Dethrone the Giants?
by Badger of Predictem.com
Now that the NFLs playoff participants are set in stone, lets take
a look at Wildcard Weekend and play out the string of games and
potential matchups all the way until we reach Raymond James Stadium
in Tampa, Fla., on February 1st, the site of Super Bowl 43.
AFC Is it the Steelers or the Titans?
Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans get a week off
the rest, recuperate and game plan for round two. Lets take a look
at who they might be playing on January 10th and 11th.
Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers
Saturday, January 3rd, Qualcomm Stadium, 8 PM EST, NBC
Colts -1, 51 O/U
Perhaps the two hottest teams in the AFC, if not the NFL, meet in the first round in Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
The Colts struggled at the start of the season as Peyton Manning and
crew took extra time to get back into shape, but they won the final
nine games of the regular season to become thee sleeper pick to win
it all in the AFC.
The Chargers didnt start playing up to their potential until their
backs were against the wall, but they too closed out the season balls-
out with four straight wins to steal the AFC West title away from the
Denver Broncos (and eventually made Mike Shanahan lose his job).
Indy won at Qualcomm earlier this season, a 23-20 decision just
before Thanksgiving. But the Chargers knocked the Colts out of last
years playoffs with a 28-24 victory on the road. I think the
Chargers spent too much energy just to get in, and so must the
public, as the game has gone from a pick to the Colts as 1-point road
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
Sunday, January 4th, Dolphins Stadium, 1 PM EST, CBS
Ravens -3, 37.5 O/U
The other AFC matchup on Wildcard Weekend features two teams NOBODY
expected to be playing at this point of the season, the Baltimore
Ravens and the Miami Dolphins.
The Ravens cleaned house last year and brought in a new head coach,
John Harbaugh. Then they were forced to play a rookie quarterback,
Joe Flacco, when their other options got hurt in the preseason. Its
safe to say theyve surpassed expectations. The Ravens still have one
of the leagues top defenses, which is the main reason why theyre in
the playoffs to begin with.
The Dolphins started the season the same way. After a 1-15 season last year Bill Parcells was brought in to change things, and a new
head coach new GM and new faces in key positions have put the
Dolphins in the playoffs after one of the best turnaround seasons in
Baltimore already beat Miami in Dolphins Stadium once this season, a 27-13 victory in October. Everyone knows how hard it is to beat the
same team twice, but it doesnt seem to be changing anyones opinion
at the window as the Ravens are 3-point favorites on the road again.
AFC Round Two
Baltimore, San Diego or Indianapolis at Tennessee Titans
Saturday, January 10th, LP Field, 4:30 PM EST, CBS
The Titans will take on the lowest seed remaining after wildcard
weekend (Baltimore or Indy), or the lowest division winner left
standing (San Diego). Of the potential matchups, the Titans beat the
Ravens (13-10 in week 5), but lost to the Colts (23-0 in week 17) in
a meaningless game last weekend.
Miami, San Diego or Indianapolis at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, January 11th, Heinz Field, 4:45 PM EST, CBS
The other second round game will be played at Heinz Field in
Pittsburgh. Again, Indy has the edge as the only team remaining in
the potential field to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh (24-20 in week
11). The Chargers lost at Pitt (11-10 in week 10), while the Dolphins
didnt face them yet this season.
AFC Championship Game
Sunday January 18th, 6:30 PM EST, CBS
Site, teams and scenarios TBD
NFC Can anyone knock off the Giants?
The defending champion New York Giants earned homefield throughout the first three rounds thanks to their victory over Carolina in week
16, but the Panthers nearly choked away the No. 2 seed in the final
week with a narrow, 33-31 victory over the Saints.
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals Saturday, January 3rd, University of Arizona Stadium, 4:30 PM EST, NBC Falcons -2.5, 51 O/U
The Atlanta Falcons are similar to the Ravens and Dolphins in the fact that nobody in their right mind would have predicted they be
sitting in the playoffs. Quarterback Matt Ryan and first-year head
coach Mike Smith turned the Falcons around quickly, although the free
agent acquisition of running back Michael Turner was about as
They face an Arizona Cardinals team that seems to have lost their mojo after clinching the disappointing NFC West with about half a
season to go. Kurt Warner and his plethora of receivers give the
Cards an explosive offense, but if they dont start playing defense
(gave up 35-plus points in four of their last six games) they may not
spend much time in the second season.
The Cards struggle down the stretch is the reason they are 2.5-point
underdogs at home. But with a rookie at the helm of the Falcons, and
the whole East Coast team traveling to the West Coast theory, the
Cards may be the biggest live dog of the entire Wildcard Weekend.
Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday, January 4th, MetroDome, 4:30 PM EST, Fox
Philly -3, 42 O/U
The other NFC Wildcard game features the red-hot Eagles versus the Minnesota Vikings.
The Eagles became the trendy pick to sneak up and win the NFC after
they demolished the Dallas Cowboys last weekend to clinch the final
wildcard spot. Since head coach Andy Reid benched Donovan McNabb in
the Baltimore game in week 12, McNabb and the Eagles have taken off,
literally, no pun intended. Reid still has some issues with calling
too many passing plays sometimes, but with their strong defense the
Eagles could be the best team left in the field to challenge the
Giants in the NFC.
The Vikings won the NFC North almost by default, so not many are picking them to do too much in the playoffs. Their quarterback
situation, with the formerly benched starter Tarvaris Jackson back as
the starter over Gus Frerotte, is another reason why the Vikings have
slim odds to win it all. Stud running back Adrian Peterson had
fumbling issues at the end of the season; the Viking defense is
probably the weakest of the playoff contenders not much adds up for
the Vikings, thats for sure.
NFC Round Two
Atlanta, Arizona or Minnesota at Carolina Panthers
Saturday, January 10th, Bank of America Stadium, 8:15 PM EST, FOX
The winner of the Falcons-Cardinals game, or the highest division
winner left (Vikings) will travel to Charlotte to play the Panthers
in round two. Whomever it ends up being, odds are high they will be a
Atlanta split the season series with the Panthers, losing in
Charlotte, 24-9, in week 4. The Vikings also beat the Panthers in
Bank of America Stadium, 20-10, in week 3. Arizona lost to Carolina,
27-23, in week 8 but that game was in Arizona.
Atlanta, Arizona or Philadelphia at New York Giants
Sunday, January 11th, Meadowlands Stadium, 1 PM EST, FOX
The Giants start their defense of the title with a second round game
versus the Falcons, Cardinals or Eagles. Of those three, the Giants
did not face the Falcons in the regular season. The beat the Cards,
37-29, in week 12 on the road in Arizona, and they split the season
series versus the Eagles with the loss coming at home in Meadowlands
Stadium (20-14 in week 14).
NFC Championship Game
Sunday, January 18th, 3 PM EST, FOX
Site, teams and scenarios TBD
Super Bowl - Sunday, February 1st, 2009