New York Jets (9-7, No. 5 seed) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, No. 4 seed), 4:30 PM ET Saturday, NBC
The Jets blew the Bengals out 37-0 last night, and when they meet in the first game of the 2010 NFL playoffs on Saturday, some folks might expect more of the same. But there are some key differences between what happened last night and what will likely take place next week. For example, this game will take place in Cincinnati, and the Bengals will actually have something to play for this time. Expect a closer contest this time.
Philadelphia Eagles (11-5, No. 6 seed) at Dallas Cowboys (11-5, No. 3 seed), 8:00 PM ET Saturday, NBC
Another game, another rematch. Dallas won both games over its division rival in 2009 (20-16 at Philly, and 24-0 at Dallas yesterday), and will be hoping for one more win against the Eagles. For Philadelphia, the thinking must be that the third time is the charm. The biggest problem for the Eagles has been the lack of scoring in the previous two meetings. In order to win this one, the Eagles may need more than the 16 points that they've scored against Dallas this season.
Baltimore Ravens (9-7, No. 6 seed) at New England Patriots (10-6, No. 3 seed), 1:00 PM ET Sunday, CBS
Baltimore came within a dropped pass of beating New England the first time the two teams met, and the Pats will be without Wes Welker, which could give the Ravens a better chance at the upset. A big key to the game is Ray Rice—the better day he has, the more likely the Ravens are to walk out with the win. This could be the upset special of the first weekend—New England has looked beatable this season, and without Welker and with Brady dealing with his own nagging injuries, the Patriots are vulnerable, even at home. Add in a strong Baltimore defense and a maturing Joe Flacco, and the Ravens have a strong shot, if they don't beat themselves.
Green Bay Packers (11-5, No. 5 seed) at Arizona Cardinals (10-6, No. 4 seed), 4:40 PM ET Sunday, Fox
Green Bay may have routed the Cardinals 33-7 on Sunday, but a rematch in Glendale should be different. True, no one knows which Cardinals team will show up for any given game, but they are the defending NFC champs, after all. It's also hard to beat the same twice in two consecutive games, and that could work against the Packers. One matchup to watch: Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald against Green Bay CB Charles Woodson. The winner of this individual fight could determine the outcome of the game.