NFL Wild Card Weekend: Day 1 Fearless Forecast

Wesley Kaminsky@@Wesley_KaminskyCorrespondent IIIJanuary 9, 2010

New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals


Quarterbacks:

Mark Sanchez is a rookie, and has played like it this season. The defense is the reason they are in the playoffs, and it keeps them in games. Without Carson Palmer last season, the Bengals were 4-11-1, and looked lost on offense. Although the offense has struggled as of late, this team wouldn't be a playoff team without Palmer. 

Advantage: Palmer

Running Backs:

A week ago the Jets ran all over the Bengals, and are finding a nice two-headed monster in Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene. Jones has had a career year, rushing for 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns. On the Bengals' side, Cedric Benson, determined to make a new name for himself, rushed for 1251 yards while scoring six touchdowns.

Advantage: Jets

Wide Receivers:

Last week, the Chad "Johnson" talked all week, and got shut down by Darrelle Revis. This week, he will try to wash that memory out of his head.

Other than Ochocinco, the Bengals have a balanced passing attack, with former Jet Laveranues Coles as well as Andre Caldwell.

For the Jets, they also have a balanced passing attack, but have been stymied by dropped passes all year from Braylon Edwards. Jerricho Cotchery is a more reliable receiver than Edwards, and they also have second-year tight end Dustin Keller.

Advantage: Bengals

Defense:

If there is one reason the Jets are in the playoffs, it's because of their defense. They have the best defense in the NFL, giving up just 14 points per game, in addition to having the league's best pass defense, led by Darrelle Revis.

The Bengals' defense isn't too shabby either; they are rated the sixth best, giving up just 18 points per game. 

Advantage: Jets

Coaching Advantage: Marvin Lewis

Final Score: 20-10 Bengals. 

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys


Quarterbacks:

In his last five games this season, Tony Romo was on a tear, throwing nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. He did as much to silence his critics as possible; now all that's left is to win a playoff game.

The Eagles, led by Donovan McNabb, have much playoff experience; he has taken them to five NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl appearance. 

Advantage: McNabb

Running Backs:

The Cowboys' three-headed rushing attack will be vital if they want to win this game. Marion Barber has come on as of late, Felix Jones can break a touchdown on any play, and Tashard Choice has also proved he can play.

On the Eagles' side, Brian Westbrook returned from his concussion injury two weeks ago, and still doesn't look the same. Luckily for the Eagles, rookie LeSean McCoy, out of Pittsburgh, has been filling in nicely.

Advantage: Cowboys

Wide Receivers: 

Both of these teams have a Pro Bowl receiver that has burned defenses all season.

For the Cowboys, it has been Miles Austin, with 11 touchdowns in just 12 games since becoming the starter. Other than Austin, Roy Williams has had another disappointing season, but of course we know that Jason Witten is a huge target.

The Eagles can counter Miles Austin with big play threat DeSean Jackson, who nobody can seem to figure out how to cover this year. In addition to Jackson, the Eagles are led by rookie Jeremy Maclin, third-down target Jason Avant, and Brent Celek, the only bright spot in the Eagles' loss a week ago.

Advantage: Eagles

Defense:

The Cowboys' defense gives up the second-fewest points per game in the league with just 15; they have been particularly brutal as of late.

The Eagles' defense, though, is a question mark, as they give up 21 points per game and are questionable at stopping the run. If the Cowboys can hold the explosive Eagles to 15 points or fewer, the odds are in their favor. 

Advantage: Cowboys

Coaching Advantage:   Andy Reid

Final Score: 23-20 Eagles

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