NFL Czar: Four teams to beat in the playoffs
But despite all the craziness of the regular season, there is still nothing that compares to the thrill and unpredictability of the NFL playoffs. Going into the division round, I will take a look at the top four teams in the NFL.
Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
You know this team will be ready for the playoffs, unbeaten season or not. Peyton Manning is still playing at a very high level, and will be at his absolute best when he has to be. The key for the Colts offence will be staying balanced. Their running game will have to take some pressure off of Manning and their young receivers.
Is there a way to beat the Colts with their starters in there? It sure didn't seem like it. However, like any team, they have some weaknesses as well. They are very young and inexperienced in their secondary, and teams will be able to throw on them. Expect a lot of points to be scored in Lucas Oil Stadium this January.
San Diego Chargers (13-3)
The Chargers come into the playoffs as the hottest team in football. They ripped off a 10 game win streak, and dominated the latter half of the season. How? With stellar QB play from Philip Rivers, and stout play on defence. For them to have playoff success, they will need to have LaDainian Tomlinson healthy and in the line up. Without him, teams will take players out of the box and send them into coverage.
Like I said, the Chargers are red-hot, but they are certainly not unbeatable either. They have been fairly inconsistent on defence, but they have come up with big plays when they had to. If a team can get up on them early, it may be hard to rebound. That being said, they have absolutely owned the Colts in recent years, and that matchup would make for a huge AFC Championship game.
New Orleans Saints (13-3)
The Saints come into the playoffs struggling a bit. They could not keep their unbeaten streak alive against the Cowboys, and fell in a shocker to the Bucs in Week 16. Through all this, the Saints are still a very good team. They boast one of the best offences in the NFL, and are still led by stellar quarterback Drew Brees.
However, the Saints are a very beatable team, and this is because of the problems they have had on defence. It will be interesting to see if they could stop other high-powered offences like Arizona or Philadelphia.
Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
The Vikings have not been the same as of late, but they came on strong in Week 17 against the Giants. They will have to get more from Adrian Peterson in the playoffs, but it has been Brett Favre that has carried them all season long. The defence will have a tough task, as they will get either Dallas, Arizona or Green Bay, and all three present very powerful offensive attacks.
The Vikings have struggled against the pass, and all three of those aforementioned teams are strong through the air. The bye week will help though, as it will allow cornerback Antoine Winfield to have one more week to get healthy.
I expect these playoffs to be highly entertaining, and if I were to venture an early prediction about these four teams, I would say at least two will make the final four. Right now, I'll go with the two AFC teams, the Chargers and the Colts. The Saints and Vikings have been too shakey lately to really count on. However, both have strong QBs, so they will be dangerous.
Next week I will take a look at the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters.
For more from the NFL Czar, check out his blog at jvzsblog.blogspot.com