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Old 01-06-2009, 03:23 AM    (permalink
BlindSite
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Default Wildcard Week Breakdown

Wild Card Breakdown

Atlanta Falcons vs Arizona Cardinals
It was a little sad to see the Falcons story book season come to a close in Arizona but one has to respect the style in which they went down. Turner, White and Ryan weren’t prefect but they fought hard, and for a young team with so many real weaknesses to push Arizona as far as they did is truly an achievement.

The Cardinals played well using their run game to good effect with the old War Horse Edgerrin James leading the charge. Fitzgerald was again dominant but one has to wonder how much the injury to Anquan Boldin will affect the team’s chances next week against the Carolina Panthers.

The Cardinals realistically didn’t show themselves to be that different of a team as they were in the regular season, now that the postseason has arrived. Their offense still runs through Warner and Fitzgerald and despite a great performance by James, the running game isn’t that huge of a factor in their game plan. Realistically speaking the Cardinals are a very beatable lineup that is far to dependant on one man’s right arm for my liking. I could be wrong, its happened before that primarily passing teams have made some noise in the playoffs, and it’s hard to count out such a well groomed and experienced quarterback, but I just can’t see the Cardinals as being good enough to reach the big one.

On the other hand, in the NFL and in the playoffs travelling to the coast where they’re currently 0-6 and facing a team that has never lost to an opponent who registered 250+ yards passing in their second meeting, who also leads the current series with 6 consecutive wins is a recipe for breaking tradition. The match up seems pretty stacked in Carolina’s favor and the Cardinals should be stinking of just enough desperation to pull it out.

Indianapolis Colts vs San Diego Chargers
At the beginning of the post season this game looked like an almost sure win for the Colts. NFL MVP Peyton Manning shouldn’t have much trouble backed by his 11th ranked defense taking on a lowly 8-8 team who played in one of the NFL’s easiest divisions. I guess that’s why the games are played. The Colts killed themselves with Penalties in the second half and failed to provide an answer for San Diego’s Darren Sproles.

Sproles has made himself a lot of money in the coming offseason by coming out from Tomlinson’s shadow to show he really can be an effective runner in the NFL. San Diego will head to Pittsburgh for the Divisional round of the playoffs, in what looks to be yet another game that will come down to discipline and the running game as the Chargers host an opportunistic defense, top flight quarterback and solid special teams units and the Steelers one of the NFL’s best defenses.

Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins were simply outclassed in this battle and Harbaugh deserves much of the credit for having his team fired up and ready to play. The Ravens defense is extremely impressive and while it doesn’t exactly have a standout amazing one position that gets the job done like Tennessee’s defensive line or the Steelers’ linebackers, the whole unit just seems to work. Furthermore, they found ways to stop the wild cat offense and shut down some very explosive playmakers in Brown, Cobbs and Ginn.

LeRon McClain has been a revelation at tailback and Willis McGahee is a perfect complement to his thunderous style. Between the two backs it doesn’t seem like Flacco is going to have to do much to win games. The Titans defense he’ll face next week however is very different to the Miami Dolphins, young unit. The Titans will be much more adept rushing the passer and their secondary is far superior.

I like the Ravens as a complete unit and although there are some areas that need improvement I think they’ll be a competitive, if a little lacking foe for the Titans. With Flacco’s inexperience and a lack of exterior weaponry I think Tennessee will just be too tough for the Ravens to defeat.

That being said, it won’t be easy for either team and I expect a defensive battle to turn on a popped play or blown assignment.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Minnesota Vikings
Neither team was really impressive, both teams made stupid mistakes at times and committed ill-advised penalties and it was really the special team’s units that made the difference. Adrian Peterson turned in a solid performance and Tavaris Jackson wasn’t detrimental to the Vikings chances, but the special teams units allowed far too much yardage when punting and it put pressure on their weakened defense time and time again.

The Vikings D turned in a solid show holding the Philly offense to a lot of three and outs and field goals when playing on a short field, but they eventually died a death of a thousand cuts.

Facing the NFC leaders, New York next week won’t be an easy task for the Eagles, the pass rushing abilities of the Giants far outstrip the Vikings. The Giants running game, which with all do respect to Adrian Peterson is the best in the NFL features at least two backs capable of putting up big yardage. After Taylor chipped in with 84 yards and Peterson was damaging with his carries, it hard to see the Eagles slowing down the Giants offense too much even without Plaxico.

Realistically this one comes down to Buckhalter and Westbrook, the two running backs have to set a foundation from which McNabb can explore the Giants secondary. I like the Eagles if Buckhalter gets clicking and Westbrook gets effective touches early. In any event I like this match up to be the most competitive of the divisional round.

Tidbits

Not enough is being said about the efforts of new Head Coaches making the playoffs. Mike Smith, Harbaugh, and Sparano have done impressive jobs turning teams around this ought to be recognised.

The cardinals essentially won on two plays over 40 yards and a FF recovery.

McNabb is still reportedly unhappy with his coaching staff and has unresolved contractual issues.

The Cardinals are 05 on the road against teams not in the NFC West, of those teams only two made it to the postseason (Jets, Carolina, New England, Philly, Redskins)

Questions were raised during the coverage of the Falcons / Cardinals over the arizona defense consistently being offside on defense.

In the second half of the game Adrian Peterson had 17 yards rushing.

The last wildcard NFC East team to play another NFC East team in the playoffs won the superbowl.

The Ravens forced 5 turnovers from a team that had 13 all season.

The Dolphins had 52 yards rushing

The Colts defense took 3 penalties on the Chargers final drive. Racka Disaprine

All six of Sciefres punts pinned the Colts in their own 20.






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Last edited by BlindSite : 01-06-2009 at 02:41 PM.
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