Just because the NFL playoffs will not include my favorite team does not mean I won't be intently watching playoff football.
My hope is the quality of play in the Super Bowl tournament will exceed the kind of crap seen during the regular season. Parity is fun, but there is a fine line between parity and mediocrity. And in this regular season, the NFL violated that line.
With that said, here's hoping for the best.
Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals. The Cards (9-7) stumbled down the stretch and I'm not sure if it was because they rested on their laurels or they are just not that good. They won the NFC West, which is the equivalent to winning a beauty contest judged by the blind.
Meanwhile, the Falcons come in hot. They have a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback and that did not stop them from posting an 11-5 record this season. Atlanta's dual-threat rushing attack with Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood should run wild in the desert.
C'mon, there's a reason no one wanted to go to a Cardinals playoff game. The writing is on the wall.
Prediction: Atlanta 24 Arizona 14
Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers. It's the Bolts and the Colts live from San Diego, which loosely translates to "a whale's vagina." Weird. Indy took the regular season matchup between the teams behind the leg of Adam Vinatieri, who booted a game-winning 51-yard field goal.
The Colts should look good as they go into this game with MVP Peyton Manning and a healthy squad going up against the injury depleted Chargers squad. Wait, where have I heard that one before? Oh yeah, the undermanned Chargers upset the Colts in Indianapolis last season en route to a trip to the AFC Championship game.
My guess is whoever wins this game will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Prediction: Colts 31 Chargers 20
Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins. Not only is this a rematch of a game earlier this season, it is a 2001 playoff rematch. By the way, the Ravens won that one.
Miami's return to glory this season is the story of the year as they finished with an 11-5 record and an AFC East title one season after finishing 1-15 ... 15 games behind division champion New England.
These are a pair of disciplined teams, so the winner will be decided by whoever wins the turnover battle.
Prediction: Ravens 16 Dolphins 14
Philadelphia Eagles @ Minnesota Vikings. This might be the mismatch of the entire playoffs. The Eagles rank in the top-10 in both offense and defense, and they are the only team in the playoffs that does so. That kind of makes them my sleeper in this format.
A heavy dose Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook should spell doom for the Vikings, who counter with the NFL's leading rusher Adrian Peterson. Unfortunately, they also counter with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is licking his chops and is having erotic dreams of the types of blitzes he will throw at the young signal caller.
And even though the Vikes are on turf in the dome, it just makes Westbrook that much faster.
Prediction: Eagles 31 Vikings 10