Fantasy Playoff Preview
While the New England Patriots sit as a strong favorite in the AFC, the NFC appears to be wide open with all six, well five, teams having a chance to get to Dallas. Check out the NFC full team preview and picks.
NFC Team Previews
The Falcons finished the season 7-1 at home and the road to the Super Bowl will travel through Atlanta, where Matt Ryan has been dominant in his career. However, the Falcons have a potential second-round matchup with the Green Bay Packers (if they win) or New Orleans Saints (if the Philadelphia Eagles win) and the threat of being one-and-done is a definite possibility.
The team no one is talking about in the NFC is Chicago. They do have the ability to reach the Super Bowl and both games could go through Soldier Field if the Falcons are eliminated in their first game. Due to the fact that you are already losing a game with the Bears since they have a first-round bye, I think it would be wise to roll the dice with a team who is playing this weekend. They are also inconsistent at the wide receiver position so you are only left with Jay Cutler and Matt Forte as top options.
Is Michael Vick healthy? If he is, the Eagles can easily reach the Super Bowl and be a great fantasy playoff team. They have two viable receiving options in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. They also have a stud running back in LeSean McCoy. With Vick at the helm, those are three dangerous options. The only downside is they are facing a Green Bay Packers team that appears to be clicking on all cylinders. Even though the Chicago Bears gave them a tough time on Sunday, the Packers defense held strong and allowed just three points. They could pose problems for Vick on Sunday. This could be Philadelphia’s biggest threat to getting to the Super Bowl. So if you think they can get by the Packers on Sunday, go heavy on the Eagles.
Should they be given any respect? They did nothing wrong as they won their division and got into the playoffs. However, they were 7-9 and are not a playoff team. Nevertheless, they have no pressure on them this postseason, and Seattle is always a tough place to play. Even if they somehow pull a huge upset at home Saturday, they will not go on the road and win (even though they did beat the Chicago Bears on the road this season). Stay away from all Seahawks.
The Saints are supposed to automatically win this Saturday in Seattle, but you should take nothing for granted in the NFL playoffs. Sure, they are a double-digit favorite and should handle business in Seattle this week as the reigning Super Bowl champions, but they are a bit dinged up right now. Marques Colston should be fine for Saturday’s game after getting his knee scoped, but we won’t know for sure until we see him on the field. Robert Meachem and Lance Moore are your next two best receiving options on the Saints in my opinion. The running game took a hit with Christopher Ivory being done for the season, but that helps fantasy owners with a decision on who to take in the backfield as Pierre Thomas is now the clear choice. Jimmy Graham, who has finished the season strong, is a favorite of the Saints’ organization and is a potential tight end selection if his injury from Week 17 is not serious. Keep an eye on the news out of New Orleans this week.
The last of the three NFC teams that will play in the first round that is full of weapons. Aaron Rodgers and the offense is hot, and the defense is playing even better. It is a shame that we have two of the most explosive teams playing each other in the first round. The winner of this Eagles-Packers game could be playing at least three games this postseason and I actually believe the winner goes to the Super Bowl. Therefore, I would take a chance on who you think win this game and load up on them.
NFC Team Rankings
I hate to disrespect the Bears because I think they are flying under the radar, but since they have a first-round bye, I think it is wise to go with one of the Wild Card teams in the NFC. You could easily switch the Packers and the Eagles depending on your winner of that game, but as of now, I am picking Green Bay since they are entering the playoffs hot and their defense is playing rock solid. The Saints are my No. 2 choice because they could have a big first-round game and could definitely beat one of the top two seeds. Therefore, both of these teams have the potential to play multiple games and even a max of four if they get to Dallas.
So that’s my strategy … go chalk in the AFC with the Patriots and load up with an NFC team playing this weekend not named Seattle.
First Round Predictions
Saints 28, Seahawks 17
Packers 26, Eagles 21
That would set up a Packers-Falcons rematch (they played in Week 12, a 20-17 Falcons win) and a Saints-Bears matchup that we saw in the 2006 NFC Championship (a 39-14 Bears win).