Former Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi revealed a surprising playoff prediction in his role as an ESPN analyst on Tuesday. The Jets, and not Bruschi's former team, are the more likely AFC wild-card participant to earn a spot in the Super Bowl, he said.
"I think this (Wes) Welker injury is huge for the New England Patriots," Bruschi said on SportsCenter today. "I know how valuable this kid is to that team."
Welker is out for the playoffs after suffering torn knee ligaments in the season finale. Bruschi said the Jets, who boast the top-rated defense, the top-rated rushing defense and the top-rated rushing offense, could be built for a deep postseason run:
"Without Welker, I see (the Patriots) beating Baltimore. But going into San Diego, it's going to be very difficult to do. And when I look at the Jets, I just see a physical offensive line that can move that ball. ... And also that defense. Darrelle Revis can take a receiver out of the game."
Bruschi also said he expects the Jets can beat the Bengals in the wild-card game and then beat top-seeded Indianapolis to advance to the AFC title game:
"When I look at the Colts, I see a team that really doesn't have that thing that I look for in teams that win Super Bowls -- that heart of a champion. I see them not going for 16-0; I see them going for meaningless individual statistics. I don't think that's a Super Bowl champion. I think a Super Bowl champion is the team that plays hard, that's physical, that wants to win every single game."
The second-seeded Chargers, Bruschi cautioned, should be considered the AFC favorites to reach the Super. But among the teams playing this weekend in the wild-card games, he likes the Jets' chances of making it to Miami.
In the NFC, Bruschi added, he thinks the Cowboys, despite not having won a postseason game since the 1996 season, have the best chance to advance from wild-card weekend to the championship game.
"I think the Cowboys bust the trend of losing in the playoffs," he said, "and they actually have a push toward the Super Bowl." -- Sean Leahy