"PLAYOFFS, PLAYOFFS." In the words of Jim Mora, yes the playoffs have begun. Which will be a nice change from the pathetic week 17 that was just played out. Nevertheless, the football atmosphere is strong in the air.
The wildcard week playoff matchups are certain to be some great games. There are rivalries, injuries, and jobs to be fought for which makes this year's playoff plot thicken.
Cowboys vs Eagles
After week 17, there is alot of doubt in the minds of Philadelphia fans and maybe the Eagles themselves. Whether or not McNabb's latest press conference of throwing the younger players on the team under the bus really effects them or not remains to be seen.
The point, however, is made. There are fingers being pointed for the loss of that game.
It's not surprising, after a game like that one is inclined to be frustrated. In the two games the Eagles played the Cowboys, they have only been able to run for 125 yards and pass for 400. They have aslo been only able to manage 16 points, of course all of that coming in the first game since being shut out last week.
The Cowboys have the Eagles' number when to comes to defending them. The Cowboys ranked 20th this year in passing offense allowed, yet they have seemngly been able to shut down the Eagles' aerial attack.
If the Eagles were to try and run the ball more, the Cowboys would match up well there since being fourth in stopping the run.
The Eagles' only hope looks to be for a plummit in the Cowboys. A hope that Romo will turn into the quarterback that history has said he is and choke in some manner.
However, that does not look likley since the Eagles could not stop the tandem of Marion Barber and Felix Jones last week. They opened up and slowed down the passing game for Tony Romo.
Not only are there matchup problems with stopping the run, but the Cowboys number one target, Jason Witten has yet to be slowed by the Eagles, who have not covered a tight end all year.
Last but not least for this playoff game is the fact that Dallas should be able to create pressure up the middle with a missing Jamaal Jackson in the interior of that Eagles offensive line.
The game overall will be much better than last week, since I can not see the Cowboys holding the Eagles down for zero points two weeks in a row. But I am picking the Cowboys to win this game because they simply have the better matchups on the Eagles.
Green Bay Packers vs Arizona Cardinals
It's amazing to watch Aaron Rodgers work when he can stand upright in the pocket. Over the first eight games of the season, Rodgers was sacked 36 times, but in the last half of the season, he was just sacked 14 times.
That fact alone has been the main factor to the Packers recent success. When that offense is able to protect Rodgers and put up points at will, than that number one turnover defense can get to work.
The Packers defense is probaly one of the more underrated defenses as a whole. However, opposing offenses can move the ball on them, but that Packers lead defense can put pressure on and create turnovers in that 3-4 defense.
The Cardinals are tough to judge this season. Last playoffs they got hot at the right time and thier offense soared them into the Superbowl. The key last playoffs was not just the high powered offense, but also how the defense stepped up their game, especially in the secondary.
That seems to be not as likely as Cromartie and Rolle are both nursing injuries going into this game. This is bad timing considering they are going up against the seventh best passing offense, and is also third in the league in points scored per game.
Boldin is also banged up heading into this game. This puts a huge load on Warner and Fitzgerald to attack the fifth best pass defense in the NFL.
The Packers have the matchups in thier favor this game and should win. The Packers also could be a team in this year's playoffs that could go on a run.
New England Patriots vs Baltimore Ravens
Tom Brady is banged up and now Wes Welker is out for the rest of the playoffs and maybe into next season. Brady himself after the game was quoted in saying, "this was a Wes Welker oriented offense." This was obvious since Welker caught well over a hundred balls again this year.
Not everything looks grim though. Brady is 8-0 in Foxboro during the playoffs and the Patriots have been known for being able to plug in players and having them contribute.
Still, an offense oriented around a certain player who is not there anymore tends to have its disadvantages, especially since the defense has been somewhat of a blunder for Mr. Bill Belicheck, ranking 11th.
The Ravens' secondary is not what it used to be, but they still have ball hawk saftey Ed Reed; their passing defense is ranked 8th.
The fact is with Welker gone, doubling Moss and going after Brady becomes a much easier gameplan for them to execute.
This game could go either way, but if the Ravens run the ball effectively they may be fit to pull off the upset.
Cincinnati Bengals vs New York Jets
This game is one of those games where a coin flip coud predict the winner.
Jets are strong in thier confidence, but this game is heading back up into Cincinnati. The Bengals will be playing all of their starters for the whole game with something to play for this time around.
These two teams are exaclty the same in the way they try to approach the game. Both teams want to run the ball well and play solid defense.
The Bengals have become a bit of a surprise by how well their defense has come along this year, while the Jets are the number one defense in the league.
The Jets are also the number one rushing team in the league as well, while the Bengals are ninth in the league
But this game will be played in the middle of winter and should be a low scoring, tight game played by both teams.
The tiebreaker may come from the team who can prove to throw the ball more effectiviely.
Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez square off in that department. Sanchez has the disadvantage of being a rookie and throwing the second most interceptions in the league.
Palmer has more fire power in his receivers like Chad 'Ochocinco', though he wasnt recently shut down to zero catches.
If the game does come down to the quarterback who has it last, Palmer receives the edge, a very slight edge.