Well wildcard weekend was a disaster for me. 0 for 4? Didn’t see that coming… Hopefully I can improve this week.
CARDINALS/Saints – Last week was a wake-up call for me, as I’m sure it was for countless other football fans across the nation. Kurt Warner is still a great quarterback (I would argue the greatest playoff quarterback in history). Larry Fitzgerald (as well as the entire Arizona offense) can function without Anquan Boldin, who is expected to play anyway. I simply cannot pick against this team right now, even away against a Saints team that was once the greatest in the NFL. The Saints’ offense is still a force to be reckoned with, but I need Drew Brees to prove to me that he can get the gears turning consistently for this team. The Saints have lost three straight, and not when they were necessarily trying to lose. I like Arizona in another high-scoring affair, 35-31.
Cowboys/VIKINGS – This game is pretty much impossible to call with confidence. The Cowboys are the hottest team in the NFL right now, coming off their second convincing win against the Eagles in a row. Tony Romo has looked fantastic both when pressured and when given time to throw, and the offensive line has been dominating the trenches. Not to mention the three-headed rushing attack Dallas boasts. But if there’s any defense in the league that will slow them down, it’s that of the Vikings. Jared Allen should be able to pressure Romo, and if the secondary can keep up with Miles Austin and Jason Witten, they should be able to force mistakes. On the other side of the ball, the Vikings’ O-line needs to protect Brett Favre. He has a lot of confidence after their systematic destruction of the Giants and a lot of rest after the bye. The Cowboys cannot let Favre get comfortable, but they also cannot ignore one of the league’s premiere rushers in Adrian Peterson. It’s a coin flip, really, but I’ll take Minnesota, 17-16.
Ravens/COLTS – I love the Ravens. I love the aggressive, physical play of the defense. I love Ray Rice and his ability to pick up yards after first contact. I love Joe Flacco and the way he maintains composure in tough situations. But the Colts are just too good. Until Peyton Manning gives me a reason to doubt him, I won’t. The Ravens got away with running the ball all the time last week because the Patriots couldn’t stop it. Gary Brackett will not let the defense be that weak against the run. Put simply, the Colts will dominate both sides of the ball and put an end to the Ravens’ Cinderella story. Colts win, 34- 14.
Jets/CHARGERS – I must admit that I was very surprised by the Jets’ play last weekend. Mark Sanchez was effective when asked to perform, and Shonne Green filled in nicely for Thomas Jones’s fatigued legs. But I believe the Chargers’ defense will be good enough to disrupt the Jets offense. However, where the Jets do stand a chance is on defense, where Derelle Revis has shut down every wide receiver teams have thrown at him all season. He handled Chad Ochocinco last weekend; he’ll have no problems with Vincent Jackson. Antonio Gates should have a good game, and I think LaDanian Tomlinson will be eager to dispel the criticism he has received this year regarding his underwhelming performance. I give it to the Chargers, 27-20.