Wild Card Weekend – The “Weekend of Rematches”
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday (1/9/10) 4:30
The Jets and Bengals meet again for the second time in two weeks but this time in Cincinnati. There are a few keys to this game. Right now, the Jets have a recipe for success. They run the ball very well and play good, aggressive defense. In my opinion they have the best corner in the NFL, that being Darrelle Revis. Last week he held Chad Ochocinco to ZERO catches. It was the first time since 2003 that Ochocinco failed to catch a pass in a game. Revis has been solid all season shutting down the best WR’s in the league. Better news for the Jets is that David Harris, there leading tackler, returned to practice Thursday after missing a few days with an ankle injury. The Jets also have the best offensive line in football. With Nick Mangold and Alan Faneca leading the way (both heading to the Pro Bowl) Thomas Jones should have a big day. They are number 1 in the league allowing only 172.2 yards per game. One big question is how will rookie signal caller Mark Sanchez play? At times this year it looked like he was playing for the other team throwing 20 interceptions. I think if you’re the Jets’ coaching staff you don’t let Sanchez throw more than 18-20 times. I liked the mix they had last week with former Mizzou QB turned Mr. Everything Brad Smith taking some snaps under center. He is very good with the ball in his hands and can help the Jets offense. A steady dose of Thomas Jones and rookie backup Shonn Greene behind that great offensive line should take the Jets to victory. The Bengals had a great year but many times I felt like they played to the level of their competition. They lacked consistency and that is never a good sign for a NFL team. The Bengals will have Cedric Benson back this week as he sat out last Sunday’s matchup. The weather is supposed to be lousy with snow in the forecast and that sets up perfectly for the Jets. If Sanchez can hold onto the ball and limit himself to MAX one turnover, I think they Jets will ride that offensive line to the winner’s circle. J-E-T-S. Jets Jets Jets, 20-16.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots, Sunday (1/10/10) 1:00 pm
This is the only game of Wild Card weekend that isn’t a rematch from last week however these two teams did meet earlier in the year at Foxboro with the Pats holding on for the win, 27-21. The big story coming in, probably the biggest story in the NFL right now, is that Wes Welker will not play for the rest of the season with a torn MCL and ACL. A lot of people are saying that they should have rested their starters like the Colts did but Welker’s knee injury was a non-contact injury. It is very unfortunate but it could have happened in practice. I like that the Pats always play to win. Enter Julian Edelman, a former college QB at Kent State. Now don’t get me wrong, Wes Welker is one of the best WR in the NFL but Edelman will fit in just fine. Lets remember 2 things. 1. They still have Tom Brady. 2. In the 3 games that Edelman played and Welker didn’t (the two at the start of the season and last weeks game) Edelman had 21 catches for 221 yards receiving (last week he had 10 catches for 103 yards). Once again, I want to reiterate, Julian Edelman does NOT equal Wes Welker but with Tom Brady behind center, the Pats should still be very successful on the offensive side of the ball. For the Ravens, Ed Reed, their star safety, will be playing for the second time in 6 weeks and still won’t be 100%. He played a little last week, splitting time with Tom Zbikowski. I think the Ravens are hurt more without Ed Reed than the Pats are without Welker. The Ravens will need to rely heavily on Ray Rice. He does it all for the Baltimore offense but there is just something about Bill Belichick and the Pats at home. In a close game I like Brady and the hoody to come away with the win. They have won their last 8 and haven’t lost a home playoff game since 1996. I’m going with the Pats at home, 21-20.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday (1/10/10) 4:40 pm
Another rematch from a game last week. I like the Packers to win again. Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as any QB in the league right now. His last three games he has had a QB rating over 100 and has thrown 5 TD passes and 0 interceptions. On the season Rodgers has thrown for close to 4,500 yards. He is an absolute star in the making and I think the Packers are one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs. Also, their defense has been solid all year ranking 2nd in total defense with 284.4 yards per game and 1st in rushing defense with only 83.3 yards per game. Arizona has a dynamic offense but at times have been stagnant. The big question will be if Anquan Boldin can play. He hurt his knee/ankle in last Sunday’s game and without him the already talented Green Bay Secondary can pay more attention to All-World Receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Cards also saw DE Calais Campbell break his thumb and talented CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie go down with a bruised left knee. I also like the Packers ability to run the ball better than Arizona. Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower have had a tough time holding onto the ball this year fumbling a combined 9 times. On the other hand Packers RB Ryan Grant has not fumbled all year (sorry Ryan, I know I just jinxed you). So with having a better defense and a better running game I am going to pick Green Bay. I like the Pack 31-27.