Friday, January 8, 2010


Wildcard Weekend

New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals

Thoughts: I keep hearing how the Bengals laid down for the Jets last week, and I can't help but think that is ridiculous. I don't care how much you may/may not want to play a certain team, you don't lie down, get your collective ass kicked and give that team ultimate confidence going into the playoff game.

That being said, these are two evenly matched teams, with the one glaring difference being that the Bengals have a good QB, and the Jets have one of arguably the three worst in the league.

I'll go with the obvious here for a second. The key to this game is the Jets run offense against the Bengals run defense. If the Bengals let the Jets run anywhere near as effectively as they did last week, the Jets chances increase tremendously. The less Mark Sanchez throws the ball, the better for obvious reasons.

Even with the Jets glaring hole at the QB spot I like the Jets defense and running game to lift the team to a victory, sending them to sunny San Diego for a match up for Philip Rivers and the hot Chargers.

Jets 17
Bengals 13

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots

Thoughts: I like this matchup in Baltimore's favor for a few reasons. One is the revenge they want to inflict on the Patriots after the early season loss, which featured the worst call in NFL history (the roughing the passer where Terrell Suggs stomped on a bug in the general vicinity of Brady). Another is the simple matchup on paper. These teams matchup well, and while you'll never confuse Joe Flacco with a great QB, or the Baltimore passing game for the 1999 Rams, Baltimore is respectable in all aspects of the game. Their defense, which was much maligned early, has come back strong and finished 3rd in the league.

New England lost Wes Welker for the rest of the season, but I don't think the loss is going to hurt them all that much. While the talking heads make Welker out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, I think his production is more about the role in that offense and what is around him as opposed to him being a world beater. Edelman isn't as good as Welker and that is understood, but the facts are in the two games where Edelman got the majority of the playing time he had 18 catches. Edelman will do enough and not be a liability. Baltimore's secondary is nothing to write home about either so I wouldn't be shocked to see the Patriots spread them out and attack them that way. Oh look, Frank Walker just committed a pass interference penalty as I type this.

The Patriots defense, while it is 4th in the league, is liable in the secondary and I expect the Ravens to take a few shots at them next week. While Brady and Belichick have the pedigree, I expect the Ravens to walk in and win, in the only game that I am confident about this weekend.

Baltimore 24
New England 17

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Thoughts: I think the NFC games are incredibly hard to forecast. The Cowboys beat the Eagles twice this season and held the Eagle offense in check in both meetings, but it's incredibly hard to beat the same team three times in one year, especially when the teams are as evenly matched as these two are.

The Cowboys come in on a roll but I don't buy regular season momentum carrying over into the postseason, but I do buy the change in Tony Romo's style of play. Maybe a playoff win will get the credit Romo the credit that he deserves since he gets bashed more than nearly every other QB in football. 4,483 yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions later, Romo has put up yet another excellent regular season. The Cowboy defense has been good, but I don't like the matchup of their secondary vs the Eagle WRs. Had it not been for Donovan McNabb doing his best "McNabb in a big game" impersonation, Philly might be at home right now waiting for the next opponent.

As far as the Eagles, I expect the defense to throw the entire arsenal at Tony Romo and the Cowboy offense this week. Last week in the first half, the Eagle defense didn't look good, but the second half they had some success, while McNabb and the offense stalled. The Eagle offense is very reliant on the big play, especially with Desean Jackson scoring a 50+ yard TD seemingly every week. They are very feast or famine. Their running game lacks but that is nothing new.

The Cowboys are probably slightly better and are at home so I like the Cowboys this week. I don't trust McNabb at all in big spots, so I'll take Dallas in a close one.

Dallas 27
Philadelphia 21

Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals

Thoughts: This game is a 50/50 toss up in my opinion. It features two fairly even teams, and two explosive offensive teams. I'm sure the Packers absolutely regret handing the reigns to Aaron Rodgers. Upgrading at QB was the worst thing the Packers could ever do. On a more serious note, Rodgers is one of the best QBs in football. He went for 65% completion percentage, 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and has proven himself to be one of the very best quarterbacks in the business. I fully expect the Packers to take advantage of Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, considering his penchant to be overaggressive combined with his injury.

The Cardinals defense is about middle of the pack, but on a team featuring an offense like that, an average defense is all that is needed. I think their secondary is suspect and I see Aaron Rodgers having a coming out party (for those who still can't get over Brett Favre or overemphasize wins/playoff wins) of the ages on Sunday. Ryan Grant will be a non factor, so expect Rodgers to toss it around on the Cardinals defense. I don't think they'll be up to the task of stopping him.

The Cardinals offense should put up plenty of points, even without Anquan Boldin. When Warner is in rhythm he's right up there with the game's best. He better be on point Sunday, or the game could get ugly quickly.

In the wildest game of the weekend, I like Green Bay to win a shootout.

Green Bay 38
Arizona 34

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