The only thing that can counter the excitement of NFL playoff football is the fact that there are so few games left and so few on at any given time. But that is a trifle of numerics when you consider that playoff football is as exciting as any other sporting event unless the games are blowouts, then it's rather dull watching some other team crush the other's dreams unless your team is the one doing the crushing. Last week I finished the regular season strong, only missing on two games (shakes fist at Jets) which is how you want to be playing when you reach the post-season. On to the wild-card picks after the break...
Last week: 14-2
ATL at ARI: Cardinals- Yes I know they are underdogs at home and cannot stop the run and that they have been playing horribly toward the end of the year, but I am picking one team that goes against every fiber in my brain because I'm sure one of them will lose this weekend. Together Edge and Tim Hightower do not even have 1,000 yards rushing, Michael Turner was one shy of 1,700. Matt Ryan has answered every challenge this year, but everyone keeps waiting for the fall to come. It should be quite a scene in the Pink Taco tomorrow, well, probably not.
IND at SD: Colts- It is interesting how things worked out for Indy to have to travel to San Diego for this game to face arguably the hottest offense in the league. Philip Rivers can sling, no one can deny that now, but will the Chargers have the discipline to beat the Colts at crunchtime? My short answer is no and it is not just because of Norv Turner who is an easy scapegoat for any of your team's problems while he is the head coach. When the Colts beat the Chargers this season in a last minute drive I talked of how these two teams are bizarro images of each other. I still believe that point, but I also said San Diego was not going to the playoffs. When these two teams meet, it comes down to execution and the Chargers provided that last year in the playoffs in Indianapolis, but a healthy Dallas Clark is so crucial to what the Colts do. Also, Indy will get Bob Sanders back for at least a quarter and half before he gets injured again.
BAL at MIA: Ravens- The Dolphins do not turn the ball over, that is why they are in and the Jets and Patriots will be watching them on Sunday. Miami's other reasons for success has been Chad Penningston's steady, if not fluid arm and the wildcat formation. I think Baltimore's defense neutralizes all of these factors. The 27-13 win by Baltimore in week 7 was no random early season match-up. The Ravens defense is going to hound and harass the Dolphins offense all day. Ed Reed patrols the secondary while Suggs, Ray-Lew and company provide the pop up front. Joe Flacco has improved every step of the way (minus Pittsburgh) and the Ravens have a multi-dimensional ground attack of their own with McGahee, McClain and Rice.
PHI at MIN: Eagles- The Vikings have the leading rusher in the NFL, a home playoff game to start their run, a stout run defense, and have been playing well lately. All those factors mean nothing because the Eagles are the hottest team in the NFC and you will be hard pressed to find someone picking Minnesota. The game is not a sell-out yet which tells me the Viking faithful are not too confident either and would rather watch with trepidation from home or a bar than shell out the coin to possibly watch their team get trounced. They key for Philly is to stick with what works, which for Andy Reid and McNabb is sometimes easier said than done.