The National Football League playoffs have started, and there have already been some surprises.
The New Orleans Saints, who won the Super Bowl last year, were upset. The high-powered Philadelphia Eagles and their comeback quarterback, Michael Vick, lost to the Green Bay Packers. And the Colts' superstar quarterback Peyton Manning is out.
Eight teams are left. So which two will make it to Super Bowl XLV (that's 45 in Roman numerals and Super Bowl talk) in Texas on Feb. 6? Let's take a look at this weekend's four games.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
If you think pro football is too rough, don't watch these two hard-hitting rivals play. The game is bound to be close and full of bone-crunching tackles. Pittsburgh gave up the fewest points of any team in the NFL during the regular season. I think the Steelers and their stingy defense will squeeze out the win at home. But I won't be shocked if the Ravens win. They looked awfully good crushing Kansas City last Sunday, 30-7.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
The big difference between these two teams is at quarterback. Veteran Tom Brady has led the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships and had the highest quarterback rating (111.0) during the 2010 regular season. The Jets' Marc Sanchez is in only his second year and was rated 27th among the 32 starting quarterbacks. Even Donovan McNabb, who was benched at the end of the Redskins season, had a better rating than Sanchez. I predict Brady and the Pats will win easily.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons had the best regular-season record in the NFC (13 wins and 3 losses) and do not make many mistakes. Atlanta is really tough at home (7-1) in the noisy Georgia Dome.
But the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, the top-rated quarterback in the NFC (101.2), and a defense that gave up only 15 points a game. So I am picking the red-hot Rodgers and the tough Packers defense to beat Atlanta in a close one.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
Seattle had a losing record (7-9) during the regular season but slipped into the playoffs by winning the NFC's weak Western Division. Then they shocked the Saints last weekend in the opening round of the playoffs, beating them 41-36.
Can the Seahawks do it again? I don't think so. Unless the Bears' inconsistent quarterback, Jay Cutler, throws four interceptions, as he did against the Redskins in October.
So which two teams will get to the Super Bowl? I think it will be the New England Patriots from the AFC and the Green Bay Packers from the NFC.
But be sure to watch all of the games. There are bound to be some more surprises.
Fred Bowen is the author of 15 sports books for kids, including the football book "Touchdown Trouble."
American Football Conference (AFC) games
National Football Conference (NFC) games