You can throw out last week’s game, after the first quarter and the Bengals feel behind they put away the weapons, knowing they would face the Jets again in six days. However, even with the Bengals keeping their game plan close to the vest with Sunday’s Vanilla schemes, the Jets are a bad match up for them. The Jets have the best defense in the NFL and a shutdown corner in Darelle Revis who will frustrate Chad Ochocinco all day. The Jets have a solid run game, and the key to winning road playoffs games is defense and running the ball. All the Jets need to do is keep mistakes to a minimum and by the Jets I mean rookie QB Mark Sanchez and they will be able to score the upset. Look for the Jets with Thomas Jones to control the clock as the Jets win a close one.
Since Center Jamaal Jackson went down in the middle of Week 16 the Eagles have been outscored 41-3. The center is the most important player on the offensive line, a team that keeps their center healthy all 16 games can get a rhythm as he and the Quarterback become psychosynced into the game. When you change centers it sometimes takes a while for the Quarterback to find his rhythm and Donovan McNabb has yet to find his rhythm with Nick Cole. I think the Eagles also knowing there was a potential rematch, kept allot of their blitz schemes out of the playbook. However, it is not going to matter, I expect a crazy 100,000 crowd all screaming for the Cowboys, to create a significant home field advantage as the Cowboys beat the Eagles for the third time in the season to end their 13 year playoff drought.
Another example of a bad match up in this game for the Patriots; who will be facing the Ravens without their big third down playmaker Wes Welker. The Patriots did complete an 8-0 season in Foxboro, and that included a win over the Ravens. However, the Ravens had their chances to win that game. If fully healthy the Patriots would be a hard to pick against but Tom Brady is banged up and the Ravens are an attacking team that could take advantage of this. Look for the Ravens to make life miserable for Brady as the absence of Welker will be felt hard on those 3rd and 5 plays teams need to keeps drives alive. The Ravens also have a terrific running attack led by Ray Rice who could have a big day against the Patriots vulnerable defense. These are the ingredients needed for a big road upset as the Brady and Belichick lose their first playoff game at home.
In each of the last few years there has been a team that has made a run out of Wild Card weekend; the Packers could be the team that makes the run this year, as they appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time. You can toss out last week’s game in the desert as the Cardinals closed the book early to focus on this week’s rematch in the playoffs. However, the Packers defense led by Charles Woodson is wrong for the Cardinals who rely heavily on the passing game. To beat the Packers the Cardinals will need more balance, and I am not sure Beanie Wells could provide that. The Cardinals also have to be concerned with Anquan Boldin who was banged up last week. Larry Fitzgerald is a playmaker, but he cannot do it all on his own. Look for a solid game from Aaron Rodgers as the Packers score a win on the road.