Does history repeat itself? We will certainly find out with four playoff games scheduled for the weekend.
Coincidentally, every matchup was played out at least once already this season.
Analyzing the previous games may give us hints of what to expect this weekend.
On second thought, the Patriots regular season rematch against the New York Jets couldn’t have been more different than their first game in which they suffered their first loss.
Take a “dive” with me as we look into this weekend’s matchups.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
1st Bout in Week 4:
Pittsburgh 14-Baltimore 17
It is difficult to evaluate this week as both teams were missing one of their stars.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended and forced to sit, while veteran Charlie Batch captained the offense.
Batch kept the Steelers in the game, but only threw for 141 yards with an interception.
Baltimore safety Ed Reed also was absent with a hip injury. Joe Flacco was able to win this game for the Ravens as Ray Rice and Willis McGahee averaged less than three yards per carry and totaled only 59 yards on the ground.
2nd Bout in Week 13:
Baltimore 10- Pittsburgh 13
Key Notes- Baltimore nearly swept Pittsburgh, but Troy Polamalu saved the day by sacking Joe Flacco late in the fourth quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger led his team for the winning drive on a bum foot and a broken nose suffered in the first quarter.
For the sixth time this season, Baltimore blew a fourth quarter lead. Both Roethlisberger and Flacco threw for over 250 yards with a touchdown and a turnover.
Both teams struggled on the ground, but Anquan Boldin had a huge game with 119 receiving yards and a score.
– It is unlikely that there are two other teams with the same level of grudge as these AFC North rivals.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh are so evenly matched that the last four games have been decided by three points each.
Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs displayed his feelings for his division rival at a press conference where he wore a t-shirt with an animated Raven flipping “the bird” to Pittsburgh. Hines Ward and James Harrison have made their feelings about Baltimore public as well.
Some have called Saturday’s matchup a blood bath and even World War III.
Be prepared for another defensive game with the winner likely scoring less than 20 points.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
1st Bout in Week 2:
New England 14-New York 28
New York finally walked their walk.
Mark Sanchez outperformed Tom Brady by throwing for a season best quarterback rating of 124.3, which included 220 passing yards and three touchdowns. Tom Brady suffered one of his worst games of the season with two interceptions and a lost fumble late in the fourth quarter.
New England’s bright spots included tight end Aaron Hernandez with over 100 yards receiving and Randy Moss burning Darrelle Revis for a score. The Jets also had success on the ground with LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene combining for 128 rushing yards.
2nd Bout in Week 13:
New York 3- New England 45
Key Notes- Revenge is sweet, especially when it occurs on Monday Night Football.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots completely annihilated the New York Jets to prevent a season sweep.
Although both Jets’ backs ran for over 100 yards again, Sanchez struggled with three picks and could not help his team find the end zone. Tom Brady spread the ball evenly by throwing four touchdowns to three different receivers and a tight end. Although former Jet Danny Woodhead did not score, he did earn 104 receiving yards, while Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis punched it in twice on the ground.
– This matchup has been gaining hype as Jets’ cornerback Antonio Cromartie stirred the pot earlier this week by calling Tom Brady an a-hole and claiming he hates him.
Tom Brady reacted calmly and humorously to the attack.
In a more friendly call-out, Rex Ryan has stated that “it’s personal” between himself and Coach Bill Belichick.
Unfortunately for New York, they received news that right tackle Damien Woody will miss the remainder of the postseason. Expect New England to put more pressure on Mark Sanchez and win this game at home.
Although I do not foresee another 40 point shellacking, the “Hoodie” will defeat the “Footie” to earn a comfortable, double digit victory on their way to the AFC Championship.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
1st Bout in Week 12:
Green Bay 17- Atlanta 20
Green Bay battled from behind nearly all game, but could not overtake the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 344 yards with over 50 yards rushing, but did have a costly fumble in the red zone.
Atlanta balanced their attack with strong games from Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, and a game-winning 47 yard field goal from Matt Bryant.
Playoff Bout– This game has gained less notoriety than the other weekend matchups.
This is likely due to the players and coaches on both teams showing maturity and avoiding trash-talking. Both of these high-powered offenses should have no problem putting up points.
Look for the Packers’ young and talented running back James Starks to have another big game.
Although Atlanta may be considered a “good” team by some, they are a “great” team at home and should find a way to win.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
1st Bout in Week 12:
Seattle 23- Chicago 20
Key Notes- The Seattle Seahawks only won two road games this season, which may be a reason for their 7-9 record.
Their quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, has played relatively similar in both home and road games.
Nevertheless, Hasselbeck flashed back to his prime last week as he torched the New Orleans Saints for four touchdown passes and led Seattle to an upset.
In their Week 6 matchup, Hasselbeck threw for 242 yards and a score as he connected with wide receiver Mike Williams ten times for 123 yards. Seattle’s defense had its way with Chicago’s offensive line as they sacked Jay Cutler six times including a safety. Chicago’s lone highlight came from a punt return touchdown by Devin Hester.
Seattle also topped 100 yards rushing against Chicago, who was without Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs
Chicago is favored by 10 points, but this number may serve as motivation rather than disappointment for Seattle.
I expect the Seahawks to surprise Chicago with a balanced offensive attack along with constant pressure on Cutler.
Although the game will be close, expect Pete Carrol’s cinderella squad to continue their fairy tale into the NFC Championship.