Saturday, January 09, 2010

Jets, Ravens, Cowboys and Packers this weekend

In addition to getting caught up on laundry, growing a manta ray to 600 times its original size, and keeping my favorite princess and superhero safe and healthy, my primary goal today is to actually take in some playoff football. Working on Sundays, I usually just glance up at the TV every once in a while but don't get to pay close attention to the games. So, today is an exciting day for a football fan like me. Here's my take on the games:

Jets @ Bengals: There's been a lot of talk about how the Jets are in the postseason simply because their opponents in the final two games laid down. While it's a good argument — and something that the NFL commissioner has said he'll look into — if the Jets weren't a decent team, they wouldn't have been in a position late in the season to clinch a playoff berth regardless of their opponents' play. On the other side of the field, I'm not sure that any team in the postseason lacks momentum to the degree that Cincinnati does. With their only win in the past four games coming in a game they snuck out against Kansas City, the Bengals haven't provided me anything to be confident in. And I have to think they might be lacking a touch of faith in themselves as well. Legit or not, the Jets are rolling, and I think they get it done today. Besides that, I really want to see the storybook finish to the Colts season that I've been hoping for. Here in Colts country, everyone's been insistent that there's no way the Jets would have won in Week 16 if Indy hadn't pulled its starters in the third quarter. I would love to see the Jets come back to Indianapolis and put the smack down, in a game that matters. It probably wouldn't happen, but it just might shut up all of these obnoxious Colts fans.

Eagles @ Cowboys: While I really think that Philadelphia might be the better team in this contest, I think the Eagles blew it when they didn't earn a home game last week. Dallas has always been a tough place to win, even before Jerry's House was built. A lot can change in a week, and Philly definitely has more playoff experience than this bunch of Cowboys, but they looked so bad last week that I can't see them making a complete turnaround to advance to the second round. I'm a firm believer that momentum and confidence means a lot in the playoffs, and right now Dallas has it on their side. It shouldn't be as ugly as the regular-season finale, but I do think that the Cowboys will live to play another game.

Ravens @ Patriots: This, to me, is the toughest game of the week to predict. With a healthy Wes Welker, I think the Patriots would get an easy victory, but without him, it significantly levels the playing field. I think that Baltimore has something to prove after having a win in its sights earlier this season against the Pats and then getting cheated on a bogus call for getting too close to the Golden Boy Tom Brady. Still, it's difficult to say that it will be a guaranteed victory for the Ravens despite the loss of the Patriots leading receiver. New England has a quality system for players to be successful. Last season, they plugged Matt Cassel — who hadn't started since high school — into the lineup and went 11-5, just missing the playoffs. Loads of receivers (Deion Branch, David Patton, Troy Brown, etc.) have been successful in New England even before Randy Moss and Welker were on the scene. So, I think they'll adjust and be competitive, but I think the Ravens will emerge victorious. They are running the ball extremely well the past few games, and I think the Pats are inconsistent defensively. That could be the difference.

Packers @ Cardinals: Just a few weeks ago, I was picking the Cardinals to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, but I'm going to change course on that one now. While Arizona is packed with talent and surprised everyone with their postseason prowess last year, they've been streaky all year. I don't think that Green Bay is a team they can afford to let down against. Had the Cardinals drawn any other team in the NFC field for their opening game, I think I would have given them the nod. But the Packers are way too hot right now, and I don't think that Arizona matches up well against them. I'm not sure that I can ride the Green Bay train all the way to the Super Bowl, but I'm getting onboard for the wild-card round at least. Who knows, maybe we'll even get to endure some network hype if the Packers get to face the former franchise hero Brett Favre in Minnesota in the next round.

That's what I've got to say. Regardless of what happens, I'm going to enjoy watching some postseason football today. Now, back to the monster hunt.

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