Michael Vick, Andy Reid, Eagles vs. Packers Highlight Wild Card Weekend

Mark CrystelContributor IIIJanuary 6, 2011

This is Vick's big chance.
This is Vick's big chance.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

"I’ll think of something for him."

That was Andy Reid’s response when asked to comment on his acquisition of Michael Vick in August of 2009.

Fourteen months later, Reid had a new statement:

"I have two quarterbacks who can get me to the Super Bowl, and there‘s not many coaches who can say that."

Except for New Orleans at Seattle, this week’s NFL playoff matchups look to be virtual toss-ups, with all three point spreads listed at a field goal or less. But there’s one game in particular that holds an extra set of meanings, and that’s the one being played in Philadelphia.

After Michael Vick completed his 18-month federal prison term, virtually none of the NFL teams had any interest in him. The Bengals gave him an offer, then Donovan McNabb had a talk with Andy Reid.

Perhaps is was Kevin Kolb straining a knee ligament during the preseason, or maybe it was just the genius in Andy Reid.

Whatever it was, Reid has a football team that is 8-2 with a healthy Vick in the starting lineup.

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According to Vick, it would be 9-2 if he started the Eagles‘ first home game.

"I feel like we could have won the game if I had played the whole time," said Vick after the Eagles' season-opening loss to the Packers.

You can bet that Andy Reid and his quarterback will cherish their second chance.

After Vick spent much of 2009 on the sidelines backing up Donovan McNabb, the former Eagles quarterback who lobbied for Andy Reid to acquire him, Vick got the call against the Packers in the second half of the season opener.

When he was named as the starter in the Eagles’ next game, it was a chance that couldn't go wasted.

What has transpired since the Packers game is possibly one of the greatest tales of rock bottom to sky high in the history of sports, and it’s that extra motivation which may be just enough to propel Vick to the extra concentration and propulsion he needs for the playoffs.

Right now, Michael Vick has more motivation and momentum than any player in the league, and probably more of a desire than any other player to win it all. A Super Bowl victory, starting with a win over the Packers, could go a long way to mend his reputation.

Just ask Kobe Bryant.

Accused, but not convicted, of sexual assault in 2003, Bryant and his intimate details were all over the news for several months. Although he served no jail time, it had to be a huge embarrassment, much like one would be embarrassed after being convicted of harboring the torture of domesticated house pets.

Since then, Bryant took the Lakers to domination and consecutive NBA championships without Shaquille O’Neal. That incident in Colorado has since become a distant memory. I’m not suggesting that people will or should completely forget about Vick’s past actions, but human nature usually dictates remembering the most recent thing, especially a big accomplishment.

The Packers are perceived by many to be the more dangerous team, especially since the Eagles recently lost to the Vikings and Joe Webb, who was making his first road start. But what about the Packers' losses to the Dolphins and Redskins?

Andy Reid knows what he's doing. While Bill Belichick was busy risking injuries and keeping the starters in the Patriots’ finale vs. the Dolphins, running up the score and his ego in a game they didn’t need to win, Reid started preparing for the Packers before the Cowboys game even started.

In the days leading up to the Eagles’ season finale, he utilized Vick’s time very wisely by having his quarterback study the Packers’ defensive schemes. His assumption was that Green Bay would defeat the Bears, and he was right.

The Packers, behind their tough defense and star-studded offense, won 10 games this season, but all six losses came by three and four points. Interestingly enough, the Eagles are favored by 2.5 points instead of a field goal.

The Packers are one of the league’s best teams. They out-played, out-gained and out-coached the Patriots, but came up on the short end due to Matt Flynn miscues. They were unable to find the end zone with Flynn in the prior game at Detroit.

Other than those two games, their resume is quite solid.

But even with Aaron Rodgers, only a 9-0 win over the Jets sticks out as a quality road win in a game where the Packers were out-gained by over 100 yards and the beneficiary of three turnovers committed by the Jets.

At Philadelphia in week one, the Packers had the luxury of facing Kevin Kolb the entire first half, which allowed them to build an insurmountable lead. Additional road losses came at Chicago, Atlanta and Washington. They are a solid team on both sides of the ball and have some blowouts under their belt, but have been far from dominant this season on the road.

Last season, they went 5-4 on the road, although the losses were close.

For some, he has been a model of disgust, but he's been an inspiration to many others. As great as Michael Vick’s turnaround has been, it won’t be complete without a Super Bowl appearance, and he knows it.

From the outset, Andy Reid has been supportive of giving Vick a second chance, but he isn’t alone. Just recently, Vick received praise from the President of the United States, which, I imagine, can do wonders for a young man's psyche.

Considering Vick’s prior criminal acts, the appropriateness of the President’s praise may be fairly debatable. But P.E.T.A. commented on the situation and, perhaps surprisingly, they approved. And if there’s one organization you don’t want to anger, it’s P.E.T.A!

History dictates that just because the Packers defeated the Eagles on the road already doesn’t mean they will do it again.

Sixteen times over the last decade, a team went on the road in the playoffs to face a team it had defeated on the road earlier in the season. The home team won the playoff rematch 10 of the 16 times. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers might give the Eagles some trouble defensively, but at least Michael Vick will be starting this time to put up a fair share of points.

Statistically, these two teams have many similarities. The Eagles are second in the league in offense, while the Packers are fifth in defense. Aaron Rodgers's passer rating is about equal with Vick's. LeSean McCoy is averaging over five yards per carry. This game will likely come down to coaching and motivation, and that's where the Eagles have the edge, as well as the home field.

The Eagles can win in Chicago the second time around and Michael Vick can beat Matt Ryan again, even in Atlanta, in what will be an emotionally charged but motivated return to the city that had to let him go. The Packers will be the Eagles’ toughest challenge of the playoffs, so luckily it's in Philadelphia.

If the Eagles can get by Aaron Rodgers’s team on Sunday, the sky is the limit.

Andy Reid is 6-0 with the Eagles in the first home game of the playoffs. In lieu of losing to the Packers twice at home in the same season, just as the Cardinals defeated the Packers in last season’s playoffs after suffering a 33-7 loss at home to the same team, look for Reid to make it 7-0 as Vick gets one step closer to the ultimate redemption: bringing home a Super Bowl trophy to the City of Brotherly Love.

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