Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 17 January 2010

No Surprises in Saturday's NFL Playoffs

You won't be surprised to hear that I won bets on both the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts last night, and thankfully so did our NFL Expert.

I was surprised how good the New Orleans Saints were though, especially on defence. The Cardinals converted just 1 of 8 third downs, a key stat in the game as the Saints didn't have a problem scoring. Kurt Warner threw 0 touchdowns and took a big shot on an interception return that gave Matt Leinart some playing time. Warner said in his post-match interview that he will decide his future when he's had a chance to think about it away from the football field.

Drew Brees put in another MVP-like performance, completing 23 of 32 pass attempts for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns. Reggie Bush had the biggest day of his career, scoring on a 46 yard touchdown run and later an 83 yard punt return for a touchdown. He looked fresh and agile and the running back many were expecting him to be when he was drafted 2nd overall by the Saints in 2006. The Saints will host the NFC Championship game next Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys face the Minnesota Vikings this evening to decide who will meet them.

The Baltimore Ravens were tied with the Indianapolis Colts just before the 2-minute warning in the first half. But the Colts took a 17-3 halftime lead with some aggressive and efficient plays. Some costly penalties on the Baltimore defence hurt them, something that was constant throughout. Ed Reed had a 2nd interception ruled out for a defensive penalty, that if avoided could have got the Ravens back into the game. Reed fumbled his first interception, giving the ball back to the Colts. The Ravens had nothing going on offence following their opening drive that resulted in 3 points.

I took the Colts -6.5 because I didn't think Joe Flacco would be able to pass his way to victory. Of course I was keeping my fingers cross that the speed of the Colts defence would keep the Ravens run game in check. They done that better than I expected. The Ravens secondary played better than I expected, despite playing very well in recent weeks. Peyton Manning was able to thread several perfect passes, including their first touchdown. When Manning is playing like this, no one can stop him. He looked comfortable in the pocket with the Ravens pass rush not as effective as they needed to be.

I'm leaning towards the Dallas Cowboys tonight, but won't have any money on it because it's too tough for me to predict. While some people are thinking the New York Jets will upset the San Diego Chargers tonight, I don't see it happening. At some point Mark Sanchez will need to pass the ball and that's where the Chargers with aggressive blitzing can hurt the Jets. Philip Rivers can and will hurt the Jets pass defence.

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