Seattle vs. Chicago
This to me is like a poor man's Indy-Baltimore, only because both teams are playing pretty bad right now. Chicago has a dominant defence, but that defence has looked susceptible down the stretch, and they have shown they can be axploited in a few different ways. Seattle on the other hand is primarily an offensive team, but has become even more of one with the injuries to their defence. They would love for this game to become a barn-burner, but I dont see it happening.
For Chicago to win they need a very good, conservative game from QB Rex Grossman. Grossman comes from the 'fun and gun' offence of Steve Spurrier in Florida, and loves to take shots down the field. Unfortunately if Rex isn't on (or not ready to play apparently) he has a tendency to float his deep balls, which get gobbled up by safeties. Teams have been daring Rex to go deep, kind of like when a goalie dares you to go high on the glove and then takes it away cause they know you can't resist. Thats how teams have played against him. With all the injuries to Seattles defence, they are very susceptible to the dep ball, and Lovie Smith will have to talk Grossman off the ledge and to play it conservative. If Chicago can just not turn the ball over, even one of Chicago's player's said that he can makes mistakes he just can't turn the ball over, then that defence should be able to do enough for them to beat Seattle. This needs to be a confidence-boost game for Chicago's defence. One last thing to mention with Chicago is that they have a terrific, terrific special teams unit. This is something that doesn't get covered a lot because of Hester, but both ST units are among the best in the league, and in the playoffs, with momentume meaning so much as well as field position, ST can be a huge edge, and Chicago could exploit that.
For Seattle to win, they need they weapons to play well. Actually they need them to play awesome. Matt Hasselback has played a lot of very iffy games in the second half of the season (just ask my fantasy team) and needs to be near perfect to beat this defence. The Chicago defence has shown they have a tendency to be ball hawkers, the problem with that is if you focus on them, they can get themselves out of position on deep routes. When they are playing man, the saeties have, in the past, been focused on watching the quarterback and trying to come under for interceptions, only to be burned on the inside/outside because they were supposed to be supporting their corner over the top and left someone wide open. On film study this has happened a lot down the stretch, even when they were playing in the Tampa 2. they have been very susceptible to double moves and biting on play-action, and I feel this is a way that Seattle can attack them. Hasselback needs Alexander to have a very good 1st half running the ball, maybe breaking a few into the secondary, and also throwing some underneath and short routes. Once chicago thinks this is their gameplan, they need to start taking some shots off of playaction and double moves. Deion Branch was brought in for this reason as he is a home-run threat with very good hands. Hasselback is a smart QB above anything else, so if they see the safeties cheating, they can burn them.
In the end, I see Rex Grossman stepping up and playing a very good game, with only 1 turnover, and Urlacher taking an interception to the house for the Bears. Bears win 24-17 and get ready for that great NO offence to come marching into Chi-town.
New England vs. San Diego
This in my mind is a great game to settle the head coach and QB in the playoffs are the most important thing debate, because that is all NE has in this game. San Diego has the better offence, the better game-breakers, the better defence, and the best player in the game, Mr. LDT. The Patriots have Brady, Bellichek, and a good special teams. Time for Brady to get the playoff magic going again, or they are in trouble.
The Patriots have been very normal this season, I have watched a few of their games and the biggest thing that jumps out to me is that he has no weapons at all. Ok, maybe their TE's are good, but they are good safety valves not game changers, andsince they seem to be the only ones who can actually catch the ball, Brady has to key on them in the red zone which leads to too many INT's and field goals. Bellichek will of course have this team ready, but the way they can win is by playing a very agressive defence, trying to make Rivers beat them, and then taking advantage of any turnovers. That Pats would love for this to become the same as the Colts/Ravens game where it becomes a field goal fest because that plays into their hands. If they can somehow shut-down LDT, then they have a shot since Rivers is not a great QB yet. Their goal needs to be to get to the 4th quarter tied or winning or very close, and if that happens don't be surprised if Bellichek outcoached Schottenheimer for the win.
The Chargers just need to do what they have done all season, run over the competition. Literally. Every team all season has dared the Chargers to beat them by passing and have put 8 in the box to stop LDT. All season long LDT has destroyed all comers, running through holes that didn't exist and showing he is by far the best back we have seen in a long time. I expect San Diego's defence to let Brady get the ball to his TE's on short passes, but to take away the middle of the field and force him to throw out patterns. After a while, I think they will play a little more aggressive and try and undercut those short passes. If they can get 2 turnovers I think they win. Rivers will be the key for the Chargers, Bellichek will try to get them into passing situations on 3rd down then bring a lot of pressure from different places to try and get the kid to throw one up. Rivers needs to realize that punting isn't terrible and if he just doesn't kill them with picks and field position, LDT is ready to show the world.
San diego wins this one going away 34-17 on LDT's 208 yards rushing and 3 TD's. Indy is going to beatiful San Diego next week.