Noonan: NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Can Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos keep their playoff magic going on Saturday against New England? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Here are my predictions for the NFC Divisional Round.

New Orleans 30, San Francisco 21: The Saints cashed in on five offensive series in the second half against the Detroit Lions last weekend, and are expected to keep their high-flying offensive attack going against the 49ers on Saturday. Drew Brees clearly is on a mission, which is why I believe they’ll defeat San Francisco, and advance to the NFC Championship game for the second time in three seasons.

New England 28 – Denver 16: The story of Tim Tebow has been fascinating, but against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, I’m expecting him to struggle, and possibly throw two or three interceptions.

Baltimore 28 – Houston 21: Earlier this season, the Ravens defeated the Texans, 29-14. Joe Flacco completed 20-of-33 passes for 305 yards and one touchdown, while Billy Cundiff kicked five field goals. Can Baltimore duplicate their week five performance against Houston on Sunday? My answer… YES!

New York 24 – Green Bay 21: This is a total shot in the dark, but the Giants have gained a great deal of momentum over the past few weeks, and might have what it takes to knock out the defending NFC and Super Bowl champions. I like New York’s front seven on defense, especially since they could provide a great deal of chaos toward quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If the Giants pressure the Packers, and force a few turnovers, then expect Big Blue to walk away winners on Sunday.

Kansas City Upsets Green Bay, Indianapolis Earns First Win Against Tennessee

Kansas City Chiefs interm head coach Romeo Crennel earned his first win on Sunday! (Photo Credit: Kansas City Star)

By Brian Willwerth 

The last unbeaten has fallen. The last winless team is winless no more.

Welcome to “Upset Sunday” in the NFL.

With all the hype surrounding the Patriots/Broncos epic matchup in Denver, the first big headline of the day came from Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs, who fired head coach Todd Haley less than a week ago, pulled off the shocker of the year: a 19-14 victory over the previously undefeated Packers.

Kyle Orton threw for 299 yards – 64 more than Aaron Rodgers. Jackie Battle scored Kansas City’s lone touchdown of the game to seal the deal.  Rodgers pulled Green Bay to within five in the closing minutes, but the Chiefs were able to run out the clock. The end result: the Packers’ first loss since Dec. 19, 2010, and a Gatorade bath for interim Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel.

The Packers still have the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but Sunday’s result gives other teams hope.

Meanwhile, at Lucas Oil Stadium, another long streak ended. The Indianapolis Colts finally won a game. With a 27-13 victory over the Titans, Indianapolis avoided becoming the second 0-16 team in NFL history, (Detroit is alone in that regard). The Colts’ defense forced three turnovers, and Donald Brown rushed for 161 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed the deal.

Indy’s defense held Chris Johnson to just 55 yards on the ground.

While those were the most notable upsets of the day, they weren’t the only ones.

The Panthers beat the Texans. Houston was one of four teams that came into the day tied for the No.1 seed in the AFC.

The Seahawks beat the Bears at Soldier Field. Chicago hasn’t won since losing quarterback Jay Cutler to an injury.

The Redskins walked into the Meadowlands and put a dent in the Giants’ playoff hopes.

NFL Week 13 – Afternoon/Evening Scoreboard

By Brian Willwerth 

A recap of Week 13 in the NFL – three of Sunday’s games was decided on the final play of regulation, or overtime. We’ll start with those.

PACKERS 38, GIANTS 35 — Our “Game of the Day” will no doubt get some votes for “Game of the YEAR” when all is said and done. Green Bay and New York combined for nearly 900 yards of total offense. Let’s jump right to crunch time.  Trailing by eight in the final minute, Eli Manning threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. The Giants made the two-point conversion to tie the game, but then Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the ball at his own 20 with 0:58 left on the clock. It only took two big plays for him to lead his team into field goal range. Mason Crosby kicked the game-winning, 30-yard field goal, as time expired, and yes, the Packers improved to [12-0]. Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, while Manning tossed three.

CARDINALS 19, COWBOYS 13 (OT)  – What a wild ending in Glendale, Arizona, and one that will be talked about a lot in Dallas for the next few days. With 0:07 remaining, Dan Bailey was lining up for a game-winning field goal attempt. A timeout was called to ice the kicker. But, the stoppage was called by Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. Bailey’s kick, which went through the uprights, did not count. He had to try it again, and came up short. Arizona got the ball to start overtime, and Kevin Kolb hit Larod Stephens-Howling, who danced through the Cowboys’ defense and into the end zone for a 52-yard, game-winning score. And it’s all because Jason Garrett iced his own kicker, wow!

BRONCOS 35, VIKINGS 32 – Don’t look now, but Denver is now tied for first place in the AFC West. And once again, Tim Tebow led his team from behind. He threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Then after the Broncos picked off Christian Ponder with less than two minutes remaining, they marched down the field and Matt Prater kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired. Tebow is now [6-1] as the Broncos’ starting quarterback.

TITANS 23, BILLS 17Chris Johnson is finding his groove. He ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Johnson has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four games.

CHIEFS 10, BEARS 3 – While this was hardly the best game of the day, it may have featured the play of the day or maybe it was just Kevin Harlan’s voice that made it special. The only touchdown of the contest came on the final play of the first half, when Tyler Palko’s “Hail Mary” pass landed in the arms of Dexter McCluster.  Chicago suffered a significant blow when Matt Forte left the game with a right knee injury.

DOLPHINS 34, RAIDERS 14 – Here’s the upset of the day. In Miami, the Dolphins made it look easy against the first-place Raiders. Reggie Bush ran for 100 yards and a touchdown. Miami scored two touchdowns within 20 seconds of each other in the third quarter.

PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 24 – They love Rob Gronkowski in Foxboro, Massachusetts, as the tight end scored three more touchdowns, giving him 13th touchdown receptions on the season. His other score was a rushing TD on a lateral. The Pats built a big lead, and then hung on as the Colts scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis is now [0-12], while New England is [9-3].

STEELERS 35, BENGALS 7 – This was a statement game for Pittsburgh. At Heinz Field, Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, as the Steelers swept the season series from Cincinnati, who is now [0-3] against the two teams ahead of them in the AFC North, (PIT and BAL.)

PANTHERS 38, BUCCANEERS 19 – This was all about Cam Newton. Carolina’s rookie quarterback rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another at Raymond James Stadium. Josh Johnson started at quarterback for Tampa Bay in place of the injured Josh Freeman. The Bucs, who at one time were [4-2], and in first place, have lost six in a row.

JETS 34, REDSKINS 19 – At FedEx Field, the Jets kept their playoff hopes alive by rallying for 21 points in the fourth quarter. Mark Sanchez found Santonio Holmes for the game-winning touchdown with 4:49 to play. Washington has lost seven of its last eight.

TEXANS 17, FALCONS 10 – It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback for Houston; the Texans keep on winning. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates played mistake-free football, and Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown.  Atlanta QB Matt Ryan’s last-second pass in the end zone fell incomplete.

49ERS 26, RAMS 0 – We have our first division winner. San Francisco wrapped up in the NFC East with an easy victory at home over St. Louis. Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes, while Frank Gore ran for 73 yards, and became the franchise’s career rushing leader.

RAVENS 24, BROWNS 10 – Neither a driving rainstorm nor Cleveland’s defense could slow down Ray Rice. The Baltimore running back broke loose for a career-high 204 yards, as the Ravens remained in first place in the AFC North. They own the tiebreaker over the Steelers.

Thanksgiving Football Prediction: Detroit-Green Bay

Can the Lions hand the Packers their first loss of the regular season on Thursday? We'll see!

By Matt Noonan 

Nobody probably imagined that this would be the game to watch on Thanksgiving. Over the past few seasons, opponents have demolished the Lions on National Television, but this year, I expect quarterback Matthew Stafford to lead his team to victory.

The Lions have registered 25 touchdowns through the air, and have compiled 1,011 rushing yards, while Calvin Johnson leads the receiving core with 974 yards and 11 strikes to the end zone.

Detroit’s offense shouldn’t experience too many problems against a Packers defense that has allowed opponents to rack up at least 22 points per game, and roughly 391 yards of offense. Yet, the biggest issue facing the Lions will be containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who leads the league with 31 touchdowns.

FUN FACT – Green Bay’s most recent regular season loss came against Detroit last year when the Lions defeated the Packers, 7-3 at Ford Field. However, I doubt the Lions will hold the Packers to just three points this time around, right?

PREDICTION – Expect the Lions to “get-up” for this one, and even score first. Stafford should toss two touchdowns, while the Lions defense will most likely record one turnover. Detroit 34 – Green Bay 27  

Noonan: The Pack Continue To Impress

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers picked up an impress victory on Monday against the Minnesota Vikings!

By Matt Noonan 

It’s official, Week 10 of the NFL season is in the books, and now, we’re left with seven significant weeks to go. It’s been a topsy-turvy season, but once it’s over, I’m expecting a few more surprises, as well as a title game that should certainly live up to its hype.

Of course, the front-runner at the moment is the Green Bay Packers, a team that has flattened their opponents, and made it look too darn easy. They have a quarterback by the name of Aaron Rodgers, who’s technically on pace to shatter Tom Brady’s record of 50 touchdowns, along with a group of “cheese-heads” that posses speed, endurance, quickness, as well as a defensive linebacker that needs a haircut, (sorry, Clay Matthews, but it’s the absolute truth).

The Packers are destined to win their remaining seven matchups, but against the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, anything’s possible, right?

America won’t be too happy if this season’s Thanksgiving clash between Green Bay and Detroit doesn’t live up to its hype, especially since many thought both squads would enter Ford Field with undefeated records.

However, if the Packers finish the season undefeated, what’s their chances of winning the Super Bowl?

Well, again, they’re the number one squad in the NFC, and I doubt any team could truly challenge or beat them, but again, that’s just an educated guess. I’d presume New Orleans or San Francisco might have the best shot of dethroning the former NFC champs, but again, that’s just a thought.

I’d consider mentioning Chicago, Detroit, Dallas or New York as contenders, but I’m not entirely sure if any of those squads could play consistent football against Green Bay. Sure, they might pressure Rodgers or force the Packers to make a few mistakes, but in the end, Green Bay would most likely prevail.

No one probably assumed that the Packers, excluding themselves, would experience this much success. Green Bay has outscored their opponents this year by a score of 320-186, and leads the conference with 39 touchdowns. They’ve won seven conference matchups, two AFC meetings, three divisional contest, and five road games.

They’re also on pace to shatter Bill Belichick’s ’07 records, and become the second NFL team to cap off a season with no losses, (the Miami Dolphins in ’72 finished their season, 17-0, as well as beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII), but again, nothing is certain, especially in the NFL.

The Packers have been a great story, but what would make their magical season even more memorable would be winning Super Bowl XLVI, and stretching their current winning streak, which started on December 5, 2010 to 28 games.