Wild card weekend has arrived and we have some good games on tap! Before we get to the picks, I had to share this GREAT article from the Onion about Wes Welker. Nice to be able to laugh about one of the worst possible storylines for Pats fans. Of course Welker isn’t the only big injury teams are dealing with as the playoffs begin. Perhaps no team is more banged up than the Arizona Cardinals. Going into their matchup with GB several key contributors are question marks and that will make winning difficult. That game is one of three that feature rematches of games played in week 17, albeit under different circumstances. In looking at the slate of games, they are all really hard to pick – with no clear favorite in either the AFC or the NFC, this promises to be a wide-open and fun playoff season. Now for the picks:
Jets at Bengals
The Jets embarrassed the Bengals last week in a game they had to win but can they do it again? If the Bengals D can hold Thomas Jones to under 80 yards and avoid the big mistake that hurt them last week I like their chances because the Jets can’t win if the game is on Sanchez’s shoulders. On the other side, when the Bengals have the ball, Cedric Benson has to gain real yards on first and second down. With Revis blanketing Ocho Cinco and the creative schemes Rex Ryan can come up with, a day of 3rd and long means the Bengals will be one and done. When all is said and done, I think Jones finds just enough running room and the Jets D makes a big play at the end. On the other hand, I could easily envision a scenario where the Bengals, feeding off the “no one believes in us idea” and the tragedies their team has experienced this year blow the Jets out of the water.
Jets 16, Bengals 14
Eagles at Cowboys
Philadelphia entered last week’s game, against Dallas, with a chance to secure the 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye but, in what is no shocker to Eagles fans, they totally blew it. Now they have to travel back to Dallas for a really tough first-round matchup. Will the new young guns led by the most exciting player in the game, Desean Jackson, erase years of postseason frustration or will Tony Romo and Wade Phillips win their first playoff game together? Tony Romo is playing great football right now and I’m not sure the Eagles D can get the kind-of pressure they need to beat him. Points will be scored in this game but, if Romo is given all day, the Eagles have no chance. I’m looking forward to this great game between these two bitter rivals. As a side note, I am rooting for the Eagles because I will be in Philly during the game…do NOT want to see the town if Philly blows another postseason game.
Cowboys 31, Eagles 21
Ravens at Patriots
No Wes Welker? No problem…at least not in this game. If the Patriots can find a way to contain Ray Rice/Willis McGahee, then they will win this game without a problem. Belichick will find a way to mitigate the loss of Welker by getting other players involved and I am big fan of the current crop of Pats RBs. Remember when Jermaine Wiggins came out of nowhere in the Snow bowl game back in 2002? I bet we will see some unexpected guy make a huge contribution on Sunday. What’s the formula for Baltimore? Run and play-action. I just don’t think the running game will have enough of an impact to beat this team on a field that visitors rarely win on.
Patriots 37, Ravens 17
Packers at Cardinals
A banged-up secondary going up against one of the best QBs in the NFL? Almost doesn’t seem fair. Aaron Rodgers has been so good all year, even when playing against good defenses that it is really hard to pick against him versus an inferior D. I do like the Cardinals offense (if only they trusted Wells more) but, if Boldin doesn’t play or isn’t close to 100% that will really hurt. Anyway, I really believe there are football gods and those gods will let us down if we don’t have a Rodgers vs. Favre part 3 (just like a Pats vs. Colts part 2)
Packers 31, Cardinals 24