2010 NFL Wild-card Weekend
#6 Philadelphia (10-6) at #3 Dallas (11-5)
Philadelphia laid an egg with a chance to clinch the second seed in the NFC last week at Dallas, failing to score in a 24-0 loss. This week, they’re back in Dallas for a rematch, except this time, loser goes home. For Wade Phillips and the Cowboys, as impressive as they’ve been the past three weeks, if they come up short again in the playoffs, Jerry Jones is going to be doing some pretty good steaming.
Tony Romo’s playoff history is checkered at best and it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence throughout Texas, but maybe, just maybe he’s figured something out. Philadelphia’s once prodigious offense couldn’t buy yards last week in the Palace in Dallas. They’ll need some to have any hope of sticking with Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Miles Austin this week. With Marion Barber (who IS NOT who my dad thought he was) and Felix Jones splitting carries, the Dallas offense will be too much for Philly’s defense to slow down.
Ultimately, I like Dallas in a much more competitive game than last time around. COWBOYS 26, EAGLES 17
#5 Green Bay (11-5) at #4 Arizona (10-6)
In one of football’s head-scratching rules, Green Bay takes their better record on the road to Arizona in yet another NFC wild-card rematch. Just like Dallas above them in the bracket, Green Bay handled an Arizona team that really didn’t seem all in it last week once they were locked up in the four-seed.
Arizona has been more than spotty defending the pass this season and Aaron Rodgers has been pretty darn good for the Pack. However, with Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals are more than capable of trading passing touchdowns with Green Bay.
However, I think that the game ends up being decided on the ground, with Green Bay able to control the pace of the game and the Cardinals losing a key fumble late. PACKERS 28, CARDINALS 24
#5 New York (9-7) at #4 Cincinnati (10-6)
In the third and final Week 17 matchup, the Jets and Bengals switch venues and go at it for real this time. The Bengals will have all their players rested and ready to make everyone forget about the 37-0 pasting they suffered at the hands of the Jets on national television. Carson Palmer won’t repeat his 1-for-11 passing performance from a week ago and Cedric Benson, the AFC’s fifth-leading rusher will be in uniform, healthy and rested. With Pro-Bowl NT Kris Jenkins out, the Bengals should be able to establish the run early.
The Jets have the AFC’s number one ranked defense, but they also have a rookie quarterback who completed just over 50% of his pass attempts and turned the ball over twenty times in fifteen games. Maybe the Jets did slip into the playoffs with two “gift” wins. But they possess the league’s best rushing attack and if they can control the clock just three-quarters as well as they did last week in the Meadowlands, they’ll have a heck of a chance at the upset.
Just like both games in the NFC, I see the same team winning for a second week in a row, albeit by a much narrower margin. JETS 23, BENGALS 12
#6 Baltimore (9-7) vs. #3 New England (10-6)
For as poorly as New England has played on the road this year (2-6), they’re been all the more impressive at home in Foxboro (8-0). The loss of Wes Welker stings, but Julian Edelman is a capable replacement and should see plenty of opportunities with Randy Moss drawing most of the attention.
Willis McGahee and Ray Rice must show up to play against a New England defense that is quite pedestrian against the run. Baltimore knows what’s need to knock off a favored Patriots team, and if the running game is there, then Joe Flacco is more than able to hurt New England through the air.
At the end of the day, New England has too much talent and is playing the home game. PATRIOTS 31, RAVENS 17