Harris on NFC playoffs: The Bears and Falcons will advance
Jaime C. Harris | 4/12/2011, 4:47 p.m.
The 2010-11 NFL season was relatively successful for the Philadelphia Eagles collectively and Michael Vick individually. Just not as prosperous as they hoped it would be.
On Sunday in Philadelphia, Vick threw an interception with under 40 seconds remaining and the Eagles driving for the go ahead touchdown versus the Green Bay Packers, ending their Super Bowl aspirations with a 21-16 defeat.
The Packers will move on in the tournament to challenge the Atlanta Falcons Saturday night (8 P.M.) in one of the NFC Divisional round match ups. The other National Football Conference semifinal will pair the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears Sunday at 1 P.M.
While the Packers have become the sexy pick to make it through the NFC gauntlet and emerge as the conference's Super Bowl representative, they will have to do it by winning three consecutive games on the road. As the NFC's sixth and lowest seed entering the playoffs, the Packers will not be afforded a home game as long as they remain in the mix.
But first things first. They must go into Atlanta and handle a Falcons team that was 13-3 during the regular season, 7-1 at home, and the NFC's No. 1 seed. The Packers and Falcons met up in Atlanta on November 28 with the Falcons earning a compelling 20-17 victory on a 47-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 9 seconds left in the game.
The rematch is likely to be another close contest. Both teams have fast, athletic defenses and offenses with big play capabilities. They are led by quarterbacks who are among the best in the league in the Packers Aaron Rogers and the Falcons Matt "Matty Ice" Ryan.
The key to Round 2 will be which team can establish an effective running attack. In the previous meeting, the Falcons bowling ball of a running back, Michael Turner, pounded the Packers for 110 yards. Conversely, the Packers runners combined to tally only 77.
The prediction here is the Falcons will continue to be superb on their home turf and come away with a 24-20 victory.
The Seahawks and Bears will also be dance partners for the second time this season. The Seahawks, the ugly ducklings entering the post-season after finishing the regular season 7-9, defeated the Bears in Chicago in Week 6 23-20.
It won't happen again. Chicago will move on with a 23-13 win.