Here is what we learned from Wild Card Weekend:
1) FADE THE CARDINALS. We are a lot less bullish on the prospects of whoever wins a shootout, so the fact that Arizona gave up 45 points in a win means they are not going anywhere. Use the same reasoning for the Cardinals as the Giants… defense wins championships. The fact that they are in the divisional round and are seemingly a few heartbeats away from the prize should not confuse the matter. The Cards ‘could’ beat the Saints (who are hurt with significant injuries to their defense). But they will get derailed at some point because the winner of the Super Bowl will have to be able to play (at least some consistent) defense.
2) BUY THE COWBOYS. If it were not for Wade Phillips, the Dallas Cowboys would be a lock. Dallas is a 2 point dog this weekend vs the Vikes. But down the stretch the Vikes struggled. The Cowboys have a ton of confidence and the talent to back it up. If their defense can shut down the Eagles two weeks in a row (not to mention keeping the Saints and Chargers offense in check), they are a team to be reckoned with. I will NOT be rooting for the Cowboys, but I will go on record here and pick them to win this game.
3) RESPECT THE JETS AND RAVENS. They play defense. Neither is favored to win their games this coming weekend, and I won’t predict either of them to make an upset, but I would not be surprised if either team won. Why? Because their defenses can keep them in games, and if they do not turn over the ball they will be able to remain competitive.
4) IRRESISTABLE FORCE VS. IMMOVABLE OBJECT. What happened in the 2004 postseason when the Chargers played the Jets? Answer- someone had to win! Marty Schottenheimer and Herman Edwards played the footsie bowl where each coach tried to lose the game in grander and more incompetent fashion than the other. Not surprisingly, it went to OT. Someone had to blink. Fast forward 5 years. The Jets and Chargers, two hapless franchises. One team will win. Can Norv Turner bury his ghosts? Can the Jets bury theirs? One of these two WILL BE IN THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP. That is a fact. Someone is going to have to have some good kharma. Normally I would think it would easily be the Chargers, but that was before Sanchez played turnover-free the past 3 games. It is no layup. Harris gets 8 days to heal. Anything can happen.
Saints -7 Cardinals
Colts -6.5 Ravens
Chargers -9 Jets
Vikes -2.5 Dallas