Since the Beloved Bears will be enjoying the playoffs from the same vantage point as your truly, I figured I’d write about teams with something to play for this weekend. It’s rare to see Wild Card Weekend where all of the home teams are underdogs, but it says something about the quality of some of the division winners and the Wild Card teams.
Philadelphia at Minnesota
Donovan McNabb leads the Eagles into Minnesota to battle the Vikings after an unlikely series of events capped by the Bears loss to the Texans and Tampa Bay’s loss to Oakland. Philly ranks among the top ten in the league in both offense and defense. Their balance should be a huge asset along with McNabb’s playoff experience. On the other sideline, Tarvaris Jackson’s lack of experience and Adrian Peterson’s recent bout of fumblitis seem to bring the Vikings into the game outmatched. The good news for Viking fans is that unless they sell the remaining 3100 playoff tickets, they may not have to watch their team get beat on local TV.
Eagles 24 – 20
Atlanta at Arizona
The worst to first Falcons head into Arizona in the Bird Bowl. Everyone is really down on the Cards as they limped to the finish line after clinching the NFC West, losing two out of the last three games. Cardinal fans should be pumped up for the first home playoff game since they moved to Arizona, but instead, they barely sold out University of Phoenix Stadium earlier today. When considering this game, I look at the quarterback position. I like experienced Kurt Warner over Offensive Rookie of the Year Matt Ryan, so I’ll go against the grain and take the Cards to pull the home upset.
Indianapolis at San Diego
Newly crowned NFL MVP Peyton Manning leads the Colts to San Diego for another playoff matchup with the Chargers. The Colts won in San Diego earlier this season, winning 23-20 back in November. San Diego’s Ladanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates are banged up and I don’t think Phillip Rivers has enough weapons without those two at full strength. Look for Indy to avenge last year’s home playoff loss against San Diego with a win this weekend.
Baltimore at Miami
The most unlikely playoff matchup features another worst to first team in the Miami Dolphins, the AFC East Champs hosting the Baltimore Ravens. It’s ironic that Miami’s lone victory in the 2007 season was against these same Baltimore Ravens, who finished 5-11 last season. Both teams had a huge turnaround in ’08. The Ravens did it with old faithful, the stellar defense and rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. Meanwhile, the Dolphins matched the greatest single season turnaround in history as the Wildcat offense took the league by storm. The Ravens beat the Phins back in October, but I like the Dolphins for the same reason as I picked the Falcons – experienced quarterback over rookie. Look for Miami to pull the upset.
Did I miss the boat? Which team did I underestimate? Post your picks in the Comments section. We’ll re-visit this next week for the Divisional Round action.
Topics: 2009 Wild Card, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Matt Ryan, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Nfl Mvp Peyton Manning, Oakland Raiders, Offensive Rookie Of The Year Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Playoff Preview, San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wild Card