Here's my picks for the wild card games this weekend:
Jets v. Bengals: Bengals
My dream predicted it, enough said.
Actually I don't trust my dream that much, but my rational mind agrees. The Jets do have the ingredients for playoff success: a great running game and a great defense. And they did destroy the Bengals last week in the last game of the regular season, but the Bengals had nothing to play for as they had already won their division. The Jets barely squeaked into the playoffs. They lost to the Bills for God's sake. As a devoted Bills fan, I can honestly say that it took a lot to lose to them this year. Mark Sanchez could be a great quarterback someday, but right now he isn't making big plays and turns over the ball alot. The Bengals on the other hand won a lot of tough games this season and showed a lot of grit in a tough division with the Ravens and defending champion Steelers. If they can put points on the board early, the Jets are toast.
Eagles v. Cowboys: Cowboys
My dad and I have rooted for the Eagles since Donovan McNabb left Syracuse University to play for them. But I can't see them getting past the Cowboys, who beat the Eagles in both of their intra-division matchups this season. I just saw on ESPN that, in playoff games where the opponents faced off twice in the regular season and one team won both, the team that won both is 12-7 historically. The Cowboys beat up the Eagles pretty bad in the last game of the season, in which the Eagles were playing for homefield advantage and a first-round bye in the playoffs. McNabb and his favorite receiver DeSean Jackson had a great season, but the Eagles' running game is weak and their defense looks suspect. The Cowboys on the other hand built up a lot of momentum with a great December run, and they seem to be peaking on both sides of the ball.
Ravens v. Patriots: Ravens
I'm going to buck the odds and take the Ravens here, and not just because, as a Bills fan, I detest the Patriots with a vengeance. Tom Brady's favorite target, Wes Welker, is out with a knee injury sustained in the final game of the season, which will makes things difficult for him in 3rd and 5-7 yard situations where Welker was so key. The Patriots' defense has been vulnerable all year with the loss of key veterans from the Super Bowl teams. I think the dual Ray Rice/Willis McGahee Ravens ground attack will run roughshod all over them.
Green Bay v. Arizona: Green Bay
This one is a toughie, a matchup between two great teams with 2 out of the 3 NFC Pro Bowl quarterbacks between them. Kurt Warner is clutch in the playoffs, plain and simple. But the Packers' Pro Bowl QB Aaron Rodgers was really impressive this season. I caught both of their battles with the Vikings and former Packers' QB Brett Favre, and Rodgers played with such poise even though they lost both. The Packers' defense led by long-haired rookie LB Clay Matthews and veteran CB Charles Woodson is tough as hell. In the end, I have to side with the longhairs.