Friday, January 15, 2010

NFL Weekend Preview: Divisional Weekend

The Cowboys and Vikings hook up in Minnesota for what is anticipated to be the game of the weekend.

Arizona at New Orleans – ( Line: Saints by 7) When you think of the Saints, you think of scoreboards that spin like they are part of a pinball machine, high powered offense running teams off of the field, and that is what they were, but what will be interesting to see is whether or not they can get the Ferrari revved up again after playing like the past month didn’t even matter. (To be fair, it didn’t.) There is bound to be a little rust on the Saints, and they are going up against an team that dropped 51 on a solid Packers team last weekend. Yes, Kurt Warner qualifies for the Senior discount at McDonalds, but while he may be old, he is certainly not rusty. He played one of the more outstanding games I can remember any quarterback having against Green Bay, and if any team has the firepower to match the Saints…it’s Arizona. This game seems much closer to me than the point spread of a touchdown in favor of the Saints would indicate. I’m going to give a slight nod to the Saints, but I will not be surprised in the least if Arizona finds a way to win this game. I’m going to predict that the Cards keep it close, but fall just short of the home team in a game that is lower scoring than most expect. Saints 27 Cardinals 24

Baltimore at Indianapolis – ( Line: Colts by 6.5) On March 29th, 1984 the Colts abandoned Baltimore in the middle of the night bound for Indianapolis because they feared that the State of Maryland would pass a bill allowing the state to seize control of the team from owner Robert Irsay declaring eminent domain. The city of Baltimore was left without an NFL franchise for 11 years, and to this day if Baltimore residents learn that your last name is Irsay there is a slight chance that you’ll take a beating. Now, of course, that story is ancient history, and many of the players who will play in the game on Sunday weren’t even alive yet; but you know the fans who had the Colts ripped from them would take an extra measure of pleasure in eliminating the Colts in their first postseason game.

The Ravens are a strange team, early in the season their defense looked suspect, but Joe Flacco was running an offense that was firing, and they were winning. The aging defense has since put it together pretty well, and against the Patriots on Sunday, they looked like world beaters. However, Joe Flacco completed only four passes on the day. The Patriots couldn’t stop Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, so the Ravens decided that they wouldn’t even bother throwing the ball. Baltimore was staked to a large early lead, and pretty much coasted to the finish in Foxborough. The Ravens are good, but they will probably need Flacco to look like a legitimate NFL QB this weekend, and I don’t know if he can do that right now, which is going to make it tough on Baltimore.

The Colts lost their last two regular season games, which were entirely meaningless to them and to be fair they barely put forth any effort at all. Much like the Saints, we will see whether or not that rest is going to be a problem for the Colts or not. I think they may struggle a little bit early, but I just keep looking at the quarterback matchup and I can’t see Flacco outdueling Manning. That huge disadvantage for the Ravens is enough to make me think that the Ravens just aren’t going to be able to win. Colts 27 Ravens 14

Dallas at Minnesota – ( Line: Vikings by 2.5) The Cowboys are rolling, Minnesota limped into the playoffs, Brett Favre has a recent history of falling apart in the late season and playoffs. The Vikings offensive line has been dreadful over the past month and a half, Adrian Peterson is a stud, but even he has had some struggles recently. The Vikings strike me as the stereotypical bye team that flops out of the playoffs in their first game. Tony Romo has been great lately, the Cowboys defense is playing at a ridiculously high level and despite the fact that Wade Phillips and his elastic neck skin will be coaching the Cowboys, I think Dallas advances on to the Conference Championship.

By the way, I have a huge grudge against Brett Favre, so all of my Vikings predictions need to be looked at through that prism. I let my disgust with Favre color my predictions, so if the Vikings slaughter Dallas…I’m blaming Brett Favre for clouding my vision. I’m blatantly and loudly cheering for the Dallas Cowboys…especially since they helped me win a bet last weekend. (The bet was for pride and avatar power, not for money, but I was still very pleased that they won.) Cowboys 33 Vikings 30

New York Jets at San Diego - ( Line: Chargers by 7) - I do think the Chargers win at home against the Jets, but there are a few red flags for their playoff opener. The Chargers were 20th in the league against the run, and they are going up against the top ranked rushing offense in the league this season. Plus, the Jets had the top rated pass defense in the whole league, and all the Chargers do is pass. San Diego’s running game was ranked 31st in the league this year. The Jets strengths matchup pretty well against the Chargers, which makes the Jets far from the ideal matchup for San Diego, but I think their overall talent level is high enough to carry San Diego to a win. Plus, Mark Sanchez is going to need to complete more than the 12 passes he completed against the Bengals to carry the Jets past the Chargers. I just don’t know if he has it in him. Chargers 38 Jets 19

My Picks Scorecard:

Last Week: 2-2
Regular Season: 161-95
Playoffs: 2-2
Playoffs Against the Spread: 2-2
Year to Date: 163-97

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