Saturday: Jets vs. Bengals
I would definitely say the Jets are the worst of the playoff bunch. They have been in dysfunctional since a 3-0 start, they have a rookie QB in Mark Sanchez who had a less than stellar season. It looked like they were on the verge of giving up sometime in November. But with last sunday's game the deciding factor between whether the Bengals would face the Texans or Jets, the Bengals got "dominated" and are rewarded with facing an inferior team.
The Bengals, they are the surprise team of the season. Nothing was expected of them, they went through way more adversity than any other team in the league and they have come out the stronger team for it. I'm indifferent towards both teams but i'll probably be pulling for the Bengals in this one. I'd like to see what Carson Palmer can do in a playoff game. His last opportunity was cut to one play due to a gruesome injury. For a couple years it didn't look like he'd get a second chance. The motivation between this second chance and an inferior opponent will lead to a Bengals rout.
Bengals 31 Jets 10
Eagles vs. Cowboys
Personally don't care for either of these teams. The Eagles have played as well as one could for the last decade without actually winning a Super Bowl. Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid have taken a lot of heat for this but outside of the T.O. fiasco this team has been a year-in, year-out playoff contender.
The Cowboys played better down the stretch than they have in the last few years. While McNabb has usually led the Eagles to a playoff win or two before bowing out, he's practically Joe Montana compared to Tony Romo. Unless Romo actually goes through a playoff game without laying an egg and/or losing, I can't in good conscience pick the Cowboys to win a playoff game.
Eagles 28 Cowboys 24
Ravens vs. Patriots
Not to high on either team's Super Bowl hopes. The Ravens are more talented than their 9-7 record (but not that much more talented). I thought the Ravens were going to break out with Flacco having another year of experience under his wing.
The Patriots return to the post-season after a brief absence. They had a good season but seem to be missing that killer instinct that they had during their Super Bowl run plus losing Wes Welker to injury doesn't help things. However, i'm applying the reverse Tony Romo principle for this game. Hard to pick against Brady in a playoff game.
Patriots 21 Ravens 10
Packers vs. Cardinals
Obviously, this is the game out of the four that I am anticipating the most. This is going to be Aaron Rodgers' debut on the big stage. He's proven to be more than worthy in his two years as a starting QB and I can't wait to see him light up the Cardinals D.
The Cardinals are coming off a crushing Super Bowl loss to the Steelers last year. The Cardinals (well their second string) are coming off a blow out loss to the Packers.
Obviously, the degree of difficulty this Sunday is going to be a lot higher. With Rodgers on one side and Warner on the other, look for lots of yards and points to be accumulated on both sides. This will come down to who can make A stop (not necessarily a lot) of stops on defense and considering the Packers have Charles Woodson and the Cardinals don't that is being reflected in my pick.
Packers 45 Cardinals 35