OK, what an
interesting chair-gripping dud of a Wild Card weekend it was in the NFL. Except for the Packers-Cardinals epic on Sunday night, most of the games were flat-out stinkers, and I’d call them unwatchable except I really did like seing New England get their butts handed to them.
Onto the divisional round picks:
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints. With apologies to Terrell Owens, but this is the game for you to get your popcorn ready. Two high-powered offenses that can score from anywhere on the field get ready to lock horns. The Saints looked to be poised to run through the entire NFL regular schedule until their bid for unbeaten status was derailed by Dallas, and New Orleans finished on a three-game losing streak. You never know what the Cardinals will do, although Arizona looks to be just as strong as they were en route to last year’s surprising run to the Super Bowl. Saints QB Drew Brees is as good as any quarterback in the league, but few do it better than Cardinals QB Kurt Warner in the post-season. I look for the Cardinals to win this one, 34-28.
Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts. Don’t let the end of Indy’s regular season fool you; this team is good. Very good. There’s a reason why Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning won his record 4th NFL MVP award this year – because he’s the best. However, Baltimore for some reason seems to turn it up a notch in the playoffs even when they stumble and bumble through the regular season. Just ask New England, a team that got punched in the mouth by the Ravens at home, where the Patriots hadn’t lost a playoff game since 1978. However, the Colts are at home, a tough place to play, and have more weapons. That’s why I like the Colts to win, although it will be a tough contest, 21-16.
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings. Tough game to call. Dallas right now is playing the best football of any team in still alive, having closed out the regular season with two shutout wins over division rivals and literally kicking the snot out of Philadelphia in the wild-card round. The “best” label could have been applied to the Vikings at the beginning of the season because they played at a high level at every aspect of the game, but they’ve slid back a bit. Like the Colts, the Vikes are very tough at home. However, I can’t pick against Dallas right now, and I think they’ll win, 27-23, and praying that someone on the Cowboys’ D puts Minnesota QB Brett Favre into retirement for good.
New York Jets at San Diego Chargers. As a Bills fan, I am required by law to officially hate the J-E-T-S, but as a football fan, I absolutely love the way they play defense and the way they run the ball. San Diego is the hottest team in the AFC as they are on an 11-game win streak. The Chargers are also on a mission, having been considered to be Super Bowl contenders for the past few years, and they know their window is closing. The Jets will prove to be a very tough opponent for San Diego, but I think the Chargers will prevail, 23-16.
Last week: 3-1; Overall: 3-1