Wild-Card Weekend Playoff Primer

Kids, it’s that time of the year again. Grown men clashing on the gridiron. Vicious hits. Gap-controlling defense. Last-second bombs. Yes, it’s time for the NFL playoffs.

Where are the Bears? Don’t know, don’t care. The only thing I care about is that Jay Cutler is on a vacation far, far away from Chicago. He needs to go travel, sit around drinking whiskey on the rocks, and heal up. Why? I don’t care who you are….you’re going to feel it if 350-lb Shaun Cody lands with all of his weight on you. Cutler’s been whacked around more than Tiger Woods (oops – too soon?) this season.

Anyways, I don’t wish to leave my fellow Bears fans in the dark with football chatter for Wild-Card weekend. I’m not going to go into ridiculous depth for the previews; we’ll keep it nice and easy, enough for you to accurately contribute to the conversation when you get to your football parties if you know nothing about these teams.

Saturday, January 9 (all times are CDT)

NY Jets @ Cincinnati              3:30 PM           NBC

Philadelphia @ Dallas              7:00 PM           NBC

Sunday, January 10

Baltimore @ New England      12:00 PM         CBS

Green Bay @ Arizona             3:40 PM           FOX

NY Jets @ Cincinnati

Yes, the Jets absolutely crushed Cincinnati last weekend. But that was an anomaly. Want to know why?

1)      Cincinnati rested Cedric Benson. He’s performed well this year, so don’t underestimate his absence.

2)      Cincinnati also kept their game design very, very simple, knowing that they could face the Jets again in the playoffs (where it matters whether or not you win).

Rex Ryan came out and said that the Jets were the Super Bowl favorites. Not in my football world. Granted, it’s a small, lonely, desolate place, but they’re not there. Sorry, Rex, Cincy’s gonna crush you.

My prediction: Cincinnati 28, NY Jets 13

Philadelphia @ Dallas

Similar to the Jets – Bengals game, the Eagles and Cowboys played in Week 17. This one really isn’t an anomaly.

Philadelphia had everything in the world to play for, including a 1st round bye. Instead, they decided that it wasn’t important, losing 24-0 in Dallas.

This game, IMO, comes down to defense, which is surprising considering the league’s nature of the high-powered offense. The Eagles D sat back in coverage in Week 17, only rushing four most of the time. This gave Tony Romo all day to pick apart their secondary. The Eagles must blitz on a regular basis and start getting into Romo’s head.

Likewise, Dallas has a big problem to contend with. If they attack McNabb too much, they’re leaving themselves open to their vast array of weapons. Then again, if they sit back too much, McNabb would have time to pick apart Dallas’ secondary.

My prediction: Dallas 24, Philadelphia 21

Baltimore @ New England

This one has a great chance of being incredibly boring.

If New England wants to win, they need to stay on the field as long as possible and keep it out of Baltimore’s hands. Tom Brady will need to go to Julian Edelman early and often. Baltimore’s defense has been hit-or-miss week by week.

If Baltimore wants to win, they need to control the clock, run the ball down NE’s throat, and play lights-out defense.

My prediction: New England 27, Baltimore 21

Green Bay @ Arizona

This one could also be incredibly boring, but it has a watchability factor knowing that Green Bay’s playing.

Arizona is a team without an identity. Their passing game has worked throughout the year, but now their running game with Hightower and Wells is a force to contend with. Their defense is scary, and not in the good way.

Meanwhile, Green Bay has an opportunistic defense and an offense with numerous weapons. As long as they don’t shoot themselves in the foot, this one should be in the bag.

My prediction: Green Bay 31, Arizona 17

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