NFL Weekend

From SportsLeft -- A big weekend of NFL playoff football kicks off tomorrow. Are the Cowboys as good as they look? Can the Jets run over the Bolts? Can the Ravens stop Peyton Manning? Will the Saints make some noise in these playoffs after tanking at the end of the regular season? All intriguing questions.

Let’s start with the Saturday afternoon match up between the Cardinals and the Saints. The Saints are 7 point favorites playing at home. The Cardinals come off of a wild win over the Packers last week. One thing we should expect is a lot of points and the over/under reflects this expectation – it is 57. The Saints led the league in scoring and point differential. The question here is a simple one – which Saints’ team do you expect to show up? The one that was the best team in the league or the one that limped home with 3 straight losses, including 2 at home? I expect the good Saints. The Cardinals are not good, especially on the road. I like the Saints big – take the Saints (-7). I also like the Over (57). More . . .

The Saturday night game is a fascinating one – Baltimore at Indianapolis. Personally I think the Ravens are the better team. But the best QB in football is Peyton Manning. The Colts also limped home at the end of the regular season after losing a game to the Jets when they were undefeated. The Colts’ coach, Jim Caldwell, decided to sit his starters in the second half despite having an undefeated season on the line. Given the age of his team, I think Caldwell’s decision was defensible.

In terms of match ups, you would think that the Ravens would match up well with the Colts — a physical running game and a tough experience defense that throttled Tom Brady last week. Yet, Manning has had great success against the Ravens over the years, winning his last 7 games against them while playing extremely well. Blitzing Manning is asking for trouble and yet giving him time is also trouble. Pick your poison. The Ravens chances lay in controlling the ball AND finishing drives. That means touchdowns. Therein lies the problem. I do not think Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense will be finishing drives. I like the Colts (-6.5). No strong opinion on the over/under, which is 44. Gun to my head, I will take the Over.

Sunday’s 1:00 p.m. game is clearly the most anticipated of the weekend – Dallas at Minnesota. Brett Favre never beat the Cowboys in the playoffs while a Packer. Of course, those Cowboy teams featured Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith and Michael Irvin. That is irrelevant history. Cowboys QB Tony Romo is playing very well, perhaps the best he ever has. The Cowboys, always loaded with talent, are finally playing to their talent level.

That said, the Vikings, who suffered late season road losses at Carolina, Arizona and Chicago, has been tremendous in the Metrodome – winning all 8 games. Their defense is loaded with talent (the Cowboys will not be running the ball like they did against the Eagles last week) and the offense has many weapons. While the Cowboys defense has played very well of late, they have not faced a team that plays as well and as balanced as the Vikings do at home. With Favre having Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin, TE Shiancoe and Bernard Berrian, shutting down the Vikings is a tall order for the Jerry Joneses.

The Cowboys are the better team. But the game is in Minnesota. I like the Vikings (-3). I also like the Under (45.5).

The Sunday night game is in most ways, the least compelling. Unless you are a Jets fan, they are a pretty boring team to watch. But you don’t score points with style. The Chargers can be run on. And the Jets can run the ball. Rookie Shonn Greene has emerged as a premier RB. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez can still lose the game for you. And Braylon Edwards will drop a lot of passes.

The Chargers’ Philip Rivers is a big time QB with a lot of weapons. LT is past his prime but can be productive. The game is in San Diego. and the Chargers have won a lot of close tough ones this year. All that said, I think the Jets come in loose, play great and win outright. I like the Jets (+7) (the line opened with the Chargers as a 9.5 point favorite.) I also like the Under (42).

I went 3-1 last week.

Speaking for me only

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  • Display: Sort:
    Disagree on Cowboys and Jets (none / 0) (#1)
    by magster on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:29:59 AM EST
    Cowboys are peaking while MN looks vulnerable and the Chargers are hungrier after all their past playoff failures (in fact SD is going to the Super Bowl).

    BTW: My existing wordpress (none / 0) (#2)
    by magster on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:33:34 AM EST
    username and password does not work or I'd have commented on your new blog.

    You have to register. Can use your (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:37:52 AM EST
    TL user name, but will be e mailed a password, which you may change once you have logged in.

    you need to register (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:39:36 AM EST
    at SportsLeft. Register with your user name and password from TL instead of trying to log in using an existing wp account.

    Hmmmm. Didn't work that way for me. (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:40:21 AM EST
    I keep having to... (none / 0) (#7)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:48:01 AM EST
    ...log in everytime I want to comment over there.  

    Also, I tried to post a link like I do here and all I got was a big ball of fail.  What am I doing wrong?  

    A preview feature would be nice.

    /not complaining


    Ha. Friend who signed on for a trip (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 11:38:58 AM EST
    just realized he will be out of the country on Superbowl Sunday.  As he sd., what if the Chargers are in the Super Bowl?

    Are you serious? (none / 0) (#8)
    by AlkalineDave on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 01:25:52 PM EST
    The cardinals lost ONE game on the road with Warner as QB this season.  They dominated on the road before losing their first in the last seconds to Tennessee with Leinart as QB due to Warner's concussion.  Don't get how you say the Cardinals are especially not good on the road.

    Historically (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 01:47:54 PM EST
    Historically (none / 0) (#10)
    by AlkalineDave on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 01:57:50 PM EST
    the Cardinals don't play in divisional playoffs.  This is a Cardinals team with no ties to past teams.  The Cardinals are stastically better on the road this season.  Couple that with the fact that Warner, Fitzgerald, and crew take it to a totally different level in the postseason and I think you have a better team than you think.  But the Cardinals thrive on doubters.  Starting to become very reminiscent of last posteason...

    meant (none / 0) (#11)
    by AlkalineDave on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 01:59:07 PM EST
    To reply to your comment btd.  Kind of a learning curve on posting from an android :D

    Huh? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 04:32:20 PM EST
    What Warner and Co. have not been in Arizona for the past few years? Silly.

    Anyway, Over is looking right now.