NFL divisional playoffs set to kick off
HOWIE EVANS AmNews Sports Editor | 1/12/2012, 2:12 p.m.
The field is down to eight survivors: the Giants, Packers, Broncos, Saints, 49ers, Oilers, Ravens and Patriots.
Going 15-1 during the regular season, the Packers will be well rested for their first game of this NFL playoff season after having a bye week. They will also have home field advantage throughout the playoff tournament. Yes! The NFL's one-and-done tournament. The Pack are the defending NFL champions and will defend their turf with a fierce determination to bring a second consecutive Super Bowl title back to Green Bay.
If one can go on records set and records broken, Aaron Rogers is the best quarterback in the world, but dead on his tail is New Orleans' patron saint, one Drew Brees.
Also in the mix-now that Ben Roethlisberger is home nursing a bunch of injuries that slowed him and his Steelers down in their Wild Card playoff loss to the Denver Broncos-is one Eli Manning, who is playing at the top of his game and armed with a trio of receivers who can scat down field against the best of the best still in this eight-team tournament.
The Steelers are gone. So too are the Bengals, Falcons and Lions. The teams set to play on Saturday and Sunday are not yet in smelling distance of Indianapolis, but after the slate of divisional games on Saturday, Jan. 14-New Orleans at San Francisco on the Fox Sports Network (4:30 p.m.) and Denver at New England on CBS (8 p.m.)-and Sunday, Jan. 15-Houston at Baltimore on CBS (1 p.m.) followed by the Giants and Packers on Fox (4:30 p.m.)-you can bet the divisional winners will be able to smell Lucas Oil Stadium from their respective NFL conference championship games.
This will be only the fourth time the Super Bowl and national championship game will be played in a cold weather city, but the NFL can brag about the city of Indianapolis and the Lucas Oil Stadium, which has a retractable roof, unlike New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, shared by the Giants and Jets, where fans attending the Super Bowl in 2014 will definitely be thinking about the weather and the reality of a snowstorm.
Predictions? Green Bay over the Giants, Baltimore wins out over Houston, while New Orleans will take out the 49ers.