Packers 21 Eagles 16
This one was not a shocker, especially the way Philadelphia limped to the finish. Michael Vick was the story of the NFL through November, but more turnovers and sacks started to pile up late in the year. After Vick was hampered by a quad injury in a 24-14 loss to Minnesota, the Eagles’ offense just not recovered. The embattled signal caller made a nice comeback attempt late against Green Bay, but the final interception on a deep ball to rookie Riley Cooper will haunt him. Now comes an interesting offseason for the Eagles, as Andy Reid and company must decide how much to invest in Vick.
You have to feel for Pro Bowl kicker David Akers of the Eagles. He has been a stellar performer for a decade, and it was very surprising to see him miss field goals of 41 and 34 yards. Simply put: just a bad day for a bad day.
The Packers look like a squad that can go into Atlanta and win. We all know how well Aaron Rodgers can throw, but getting balance (123 rush yards for rookie James Starks) on offense like Green Bay did on Sunday will make them a very tough out in the playoffs. The Falcons play very well at home, but my feeling a day after the Pack win in Philly is to expect an NFC North rematch in the conference championship game.
Seahawks 41 Saints 36
Really New Orleans? The defense that wreaked havoc by causing turnovers during last season’s Super Bowl run looked clueless in Seattle on Saturday. The Seahawks’ 28th-ranked offense totaled over 400 yards and 41 points on their way to a surprising win over the defending champions. Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had only three games this season with more than one touchdown pass, but he tossed three in the first half of this one. He ended up with four on the day, with easy scoring throws to John Carlson and Brandon Stokley through a confused Saints defense.
I hate to take anything away from the incredible effort by Marshawn Lynch on his 67-yard touchdown run, but the Saints were just pathetic on that play. It was a fitting end to a bad day on defense. New Orleans had played solid ball in the second half of the season, and Sean Payton’s crew has to be bitterly disappointed with their performance at Qwest Field.
As for the Seahawks, you have to give offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates credit for a solid gameplan. He obviously benefited from Hasselbeck returning to the lineup, and the Seattle schemes had the Saints guessing all day. Unfortunately, the Bears will bring a much more formidable defense to Sunday’s matchup in Chicago.