While some are calling it "Rematch weekend" with three of the four games having been previewed last weekend, perhaps a more important theme, personally, would be "who I want to win is different from who I think will win weekend."
Saturday January 9
(5) New York Jets @ (4) Cincinnati Bengals
As long as Carson Palmer doesn't get hurt, and Kris Jenkins does his best not to play the role of Kimo Van Olhoffen, the Bengals should win. All we hear about is Darelle Revis and the defense but at the end of the day, the Jets still have an overmatched rookie QB in Sanchez and the game is in Cincy.
Easily the least intriguing game of the weekend. With that said, Cincy earned this spot, and shouldn't be overlooked. A win here would be the franchises' first since 1990 and would go a long way to legitimizing their division-dominating season that ended in the title, and rally them going to Indy next weekend where they will be overlooked, disrespected, and not given a chance, like the Cardinals were last year. Could they be this years' Cards? Only game of the weekend where my call actually is who I want to win.
Bengals 24-Jets 10
(6) Philadelphia Eagles @ (3) Dallas Cowboys 8PM EST
Both teams are hot and have basically been playing playoff football for some time now. Who I want to win, and who I think will win, are two different things, as I think Philly will win because it is really hard for a team beat another three times in a single season as would be the case if the Cowboys win.
Also, and more importantly, the Eagles have much more experience with Donovan McNabb, who is 6-0 as a starter in the first round of the playoffs in his career, and DeShawn Jackson whose capable of multiple fifty yard plays in a single game-which he'll probably get via a reception and punt return. Easiest call of the weekend is Jackson is the x-factor. So he goes, so goes the team.
In the end, Philly's experience, and big play ability should be too much for the winless Romo and the Cowboys who haven't a win since 1996.
Eagles 34-Cowboys 21
Sunday January 10
(6) Baltimore Ravens @ (3) New England Patriots 1PM EST
My mind wants to go with Baltimore due to Brady's declining numbers over the past several weeks. He's beat up physically and without his favorite weapon, in slot receiver Wes Welker. Still, its hard to see Brady, Belichek, and the Patriots with all that experience going home early—despite what I or others may want. Somehow they'll find a way, probably having something to do with that 8-0 record at home this year and Belichek and Brady's 6-0 record in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Ravens perspective, they'd be wise to double cover Moss and try and get the running backs and tight ends to beat them. With their defense, one can never say never, but if the game becomes Flacco vs. Brady, I don't like their chances.
Patriots 17-Ravens 10
(5) Green Bay Packers @ (4) Arizona Cardinals
This game is easily the most intriguing of the playoffs. Storylines everywhere with Packers all-everything corner Charles Woodson expected to play, and Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin and corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie gimpy. Greg Jennings and Co. could have a field day in the Desert.
If you mix that with the Packers steady "D" and the fact they are one of the hottest teams in the NFC going into the playoffs, its not that big of a stretch to see them in the NFC Championship game. This coming from a Vikings fan too.
Considering they just played last weekend and Arizona won't be able to sneak up on opponents this year as they did last year, this one could be over early. Another classic "who I want being different from who I think will win game."
Packers 31-Cardinals 13
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