By now you may have read my picks for the games this weekend. When my wife heard I had picked Dallas to beat Philly she got that look in her eyes. You know the one. It was the “what a fool” look that married people know so well. Anyway, despite barely watching football and her inability to name more than a couple players on any team, she thinks she can do better than me picking the games…so let’s find out.
Bengals 36, Jets 14- “Jets suck. They don’t even have their stadium.”
Eagles 21, Cowboys 17 – “I feel like the Eagles have to get you into it before they get you big. If they lost this weekend it wouldn’t be enough of a let down.”
Patriots 28, Ravens 20 – “I’m really just picking the Patriots because my husband will be really upset if they lose.”
Packers 14, Cardinals 11 – “I just like the Packers’ colors. It’s a lovely yellow and green…I want to keep seeing that in the playoffs.”
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
Despite one of the most rollercoaster seasons the Pats have had in a long time, the drubbing of the Jags yesterday meant that we are, once again, AFC East Champions. This has been a challenging few months for the Patriots but they really seem to be rounding into form now, when it matters most. Brady is playing better, the D is thriving under the new and simplified schemes, the O Line is playing really well and Faulk, Taylor, Morris and Maroney have given the Patriots a respectable running game. To be sure questions remain: Who is the third receiver? Can Maroney get those tough yards at the goal line without fumbling? How will the young defense hold up in the playoffs? Answers to these questions will go a long way towards determining if the Patriots have a real chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy again this year. What we do know about the team is that they are hungry and they have heart. The enthusiasm I saw on the field last Sunday will certainly help them going forward. That, combined with the best coach in the NFL, makes them a scary team in the playoffs – even if they may not be the most talented on paper. Should be fun to watch!
Now, if you are a fan of any of the teams on the bubble, ESPN has a great rundown of exactly what you need to have happen to make it to the playoffs. Good luck sorting it all out! So who will the final 2 in the AFC be? For my money, I think Denver and Baltimore will be those lucky teams to sneak in. But we shall see.
Well, what do you really say after a day like today. 99 times out of 100 Papelbon saves that game. 99 times out of 100 Brady wins it for you when he has the ball at midfield with 90 seconds left. But today. Well, today in both games, it was the 100th time. The Pats will play on (and continue getting better) but, for the Sox, the season is over.
It is a crazy thing having a favorite team in the playoffs. There is so much hope, optimism and excitement. You just feel like your guys will find a way to get it done. I really believed that, despite being down 0-2 to the Angels, we would find a way to win. And, up 5-1 early and 6-4 in the 9th, I was already liking our chances with Lester and Beckett…But, alas, it wasn’t to be. The fact is that this team just wasn’t quite good enough. They couldn’t hit good pitching for most of the year (especially the second half) and seemed to only be able to beat the teams they were supposed to beat. It will an interesting offseason but, for now, all that is left to do is reflect on the season that was and turn our attention to the Celtics, Bruins and Patriots. And, in doing so, we can consider ourselves lucky that we do have other teams to focus on. Even if one of those teams had a heartbreaking loss in Denver today.
Thank you to the Red Sox for a fun year. Theo – the ball is in your court. Time to make us even better for next year!