And so they begin. The NFL playoffs. Two teams play each other for the right to keep going; the loser being sent home and getting to look forward to next season. The regular season's over. None of those games matter.
Or do they?
Last week, the last week of the regular season, the Cowboys played the Eagles, the Jets played the Bengals, and the Packers played the Cardinals in previews of three of the wild-card weekend games. Three teams walked away feeling great; three awaiting the chance for revenge.
Dallas shut out Philadelphia 24-0 when the Eagles had a first round bye completely in their hands. All they had to do was win. Dallas notched their first of two consecutive shutouts.
Green Bay pounded the Arizona first-stringers in the first few minutes, and continued the beating on the backups for the rest of the game, with a final of 33-7. Cardinals fans brushed it off because it was a meaningless game without their starters, but there's no substitute for momentum, and Green Bay has it.
The Jets handed it to Bengals 37-0 drubbing that was mostly against backups, but Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer had a 1.7 rating.
This week? So far, same stories, different scores.
New York traveled to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals again, and if it weren't for Cedric Benson and his 160+ yards (47 of them on a TD run), this game would've been ugly.
The scored showed it close, but Shonn Green, with the majority of the carries, became the third rookie RB since 2000 to go over the century mark in a playoff game, and Mark Sanchez found TE Dustin Keller for some big plays.
Braylon Edwards dropped a sure touchdown that kept it sort of close. It was a good day for Jets fans (again).
Dallas's defense harassed and shut down Donovan McNabb and DeSean Jackson all day (although Michael Vick burned them for a 76-yard pass to rookie Jeremy Maclin). Tony Romo and the offense scored a lot...blah blah blah. Same story as last time.
And so the final segment of Rematch Weekend will play out at 1:40 Pacific Time (4:40 Eastern) with the trend heavily favoring the Pack. So what if the Cardinals didn't play Warner and Co. for most of the game?
Yeah, that's what the Bengals said, too.
The fact is that three teams came out of last week with loads of momentum and confidence, and in the two games that have been played, they've come out on top again.
The Packers were the best in the league in both takeaways and giveaways, leading to an astounding +24 turnover ratio. The Cardinals have, of the 12 playoff teams, the only negative ratio at -14.
Those two stats say it all. Packers fans get out your cheeseheads and jerseys, plop yourself in your La-Z Boy and prepare to watch what should be an entertaining one. After all, last time GB made the playoffs, they started with a bang, too.