NFL Playoffs: Breaking Down Who Wins in Arizona

Michael MulraneyCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2009

While no game will provide the kind of heroes we witnessed yesterday in the landing of a plane in the Hudson River, these games will have there own minor heroes.

This is a position by position breakdown of the NFC Championship Game. All is on the line here as the rights to travel to the Super Bowl hang in the balance.


QB: Kurt Warner Vs. Donovan McNabb

Advantage: Arizona QB Kurt Warner

Now, don't get me wrong here, Eagles fans. Donovan has been playing great right now.  Unfortunately, the games haven't been up to throw up on the field level. Donovan beat up on this Arizona defense. In the words of Chris Berman, "I remember because I was there." 

Without a healthy Westbrook to come to the aid of McNabb I see Donovan struggling with a more intense Cardinals defense. 

Now for my reasons to pick Kurt Warner. He's won two NFC Championship games to Donovan's one. Now this might feel like a career and a half ago and this college student was in elementary school when he won this game but that doesn't mean he still cant get it done. 

His loss to the Eagles was in Philadelphia in which it was freezing cold and not exactly prime weather for there spread offense. It's going to be around 60 degrees on Sunday perfect weather for the spread.

Not to mention his loss was filled with drops by Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald who were obviously affected by the cold. That's not going to happen Sunday Warner goes off for big stats and out duels Donovan.


RBS: Correll Buckhalter/Brian Westbrook Vs. Edgerrin James/Tim Hightower

Advantage: Philadelphia

In the battle of the teams with virtually no running games.  A team who forgets they have running plays in the book (Philadelphia) and a team who can't move the ball because of a rookie and an aging back (Arizona). 

Now although Andy Reid may abandon the run because of the weather the mere threat of Brian Westbrook out weighs any threat of Hightower or James.  Now Westbrook has a bad knee and may be kept in check but the respect for him around the league opens things up for other players. 

I'm going to watch to see if he pulls an L.T. and plays the first to see what he can do if he plays the whole game easy advantage for the birds from Philly.


WRS: Larry Fitzgerald/Anquan Boldin/Tim Breaston Vs. DeSean Jackson/Jason Avant/Hank Basket

Advantage: Arizona

Now this one's just obvious to me.  Donovan McNabb hasn't had a wide receiver since Terrell Owens graced Philadelphia with his presence. I mean, when Donovan can say his best days were with "First Down" Freddie Mitchell, Todd Pinkston, and James Thrash, there's a problem.

Those three guys for the Eagles couldn't go to the Pro Bowl if those three Arizona receivers took them. When I look at the three receivers for Arizona I see the level of talent I saw with the Colts when they had three receivers with 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns (Harrison, Wayne, Stokley). 

These three Eagles receivers should break out a notepad and take notes on how these three play the game.  


Offensive Line: If they're doing their jobs, they remain unknown.

Advantage: Philadelphia

The offensive line was one of the best in the league for the Philadelphia Eagles.  Donovan was sacked 23 times all year. Now a good line is helped by a good quarterback. Donovan is mobile enough to avoid enough sacks to buy himself some time from the big uglies up front. 

Warner is less mobile and is more likely to get sacked. McNabb while in trouble gets help from two great tackles in Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas. They protect and seal the outside for running lanes and scrambles. 


Overall Offensive Advantage: Arizona

Arizona has the best wide outs and a quarterback not better known for puking in big moments. The weather will be perfect. Arizona at home is a monster to be reckon with and with Westbrook having a gimpy knee I don't trust a running back with a bad wheel.

Now if Westbrook plays it becomes closer to a draw but Arizona has and will have the better offense anyway you spin it. 


Defensive Line: The Eagles Rotation/ Antonio Smith/Bryan Robinson/Darnell Dockett/Travis LaBoy

Advantage: Philadelphia

Philadelphia keeps there d-line fresh with constant rotations.  Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley are both worthy of Pro Bowl consideration.  If not for the constant flux on the line they may both be there. 

Trent Cole is a monster on the end.  Now "I remember 'cause I was there" the Eagles got penetration without blitzing and they're going to stay with that strategy.  Eagles easily have the better d-line.


LBS: Chike Okeafor/Gerald Hayes/Karlos Dansby Vs. Chris Gocong/Stewart Bradley/Akeem Jordan

Advantage: Philadelphia

Philadelphia's front four set up the dominance the back three will have.  The run blitzes and just natural speed these three have will stop all hopes of a run and make the Cardinals one dimensional.

Jim Johnson the defensive coordinator will use these players to his advantage. I'm sure Johnson has had time to cook up some new blitzes to cause problems for the running game of Arizona.


Secondary: Asante Samuel/Quentin Mikell/Brian Dawkins/Sheldon Brown Vs. Rod Hood/Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/Adrian Wilson/Antrel Rolle

Advantage: Draw

It's a split here for me. The corners are better in Philadelphia and I believe the safeties are better in Arizona. Asante Samuel is the best corner in the pros today and Sheldon Brown is great covering the run and up around the line of scrimmage. 

Adrian Wilson is one of the best safeties in the league. He's a game changer plain and simple. Antrel Rolle is a good one and I trust him more than Quentin Mikell.


Overall Defensive Advantage: Philadelphia

While Arizona is playing out of their minds defensively as well as the Colts two years ago. Who knows if they can still do it. If they can this becomes closer to a draw but on raw talent alone I've got Philadelphia. Jim Johnson just is too smart to pass up a pick on. 


Special Teams Overall Advantage: Arizona

I've got Arizona here. Neil Rackers has been consistent all year and David Akers has been hot of late but what if he fizzles? Sav Rocca isn't afraid to hit but his job is to punt and who knows what Sav will do. DeSean Jackson is a rookie and I'm not putting my eggs in the DeSean Jackson basket. I stay away from rookies in "manhood games."


Prediction: Arizona 35 Philadelphia 31

Arizona at home with a more proven quarterback and better players on the offensive skill positions pull out the win. The Eagles have good cover corners but Larry Fitzgerald is too good. Anquan Boldin is too physical.

Steve Breaston will be covered by Joselio Hanson complete advantage Arizona. Steve Breaston will be the play maker on Sunday bringing back shades of Joe Jurevicius of the Tampa Bay title game as the Eagles go down. 


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