After Day 1 of the NFL Wildcard Weekend, we have seen the MVP and the Rookie of the Year eliminated, while the division winners of the worst divisions in the NFL have advanced. Day 2 of Wildcard Weekend gives us another two games on the slate that will be sure to be a lot more physical. LETS GET TO THE PICKS.
BALTIMORE RAVENS –3 AT MIAMI DOLPHINS
BALTIMORE NEEDS TO: Do what they have done all year. Stop the run, play physical and bang Miami right in the mouth. They need to stop the wildcat offense and be aware of the trick plays. The offense needs to control the line and give Miami a healthy dose of McGahee and McClain. Flacco needs to control himself in his first postseason start and not make any crucial mistakes.
MIAMI NEEDS TO: Be very smart on the offensive side of the ball and Chad Pennington is just the guy to fit that role. Miami needs to prevent the Baltimore defense from making the game changing plays they are known for. The line needs to protect Chad and prevent big blind side hits. Miami needs to connect on a big play early and catch the Baltimore defense off guard and take advantage of their over aggression. On the defensive side of the ball Miami needs to match Baltimore’s defense. If they can pressure the rookie QB Flacco and if they can stuff the run all game, this game will go down to the wire.
PREDICTION: Despite the fact I feel that Baltimore will be much too much for Miami today, my gut is telling me Sparano and Chad are going to do all it takes to fight for what no one believed could happen. This will be a field goal game throughout, but the 4th quarter will continue to be key for Baltimore as McClain will pound the clock away and the defense will show its absolute dominance. BALTIMORE 23-13.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES –3 AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS
PHILADELPHIA NEEDS TO: Confuse the inexperienced Tavaris Jackson. Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is a lock to make this happen. The multiple looks he will send Tavaris’ way is absolutely necessary. Blitzes and different coverages need to be too much for Tjax. Phily needs to put Tjax in these passing situations though, and that starts by stopping Adrian Peterson on early downs. On offense, Phily needs to stop its Jekyll and Hyde ways and show up to play today. They need to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers, Westbrook and Desean Jackson. Phily needs to want to win, as lame as that sounds, but it doesn’t always seem like their heads our in the game.
MINNESOTA NEEDS TO: Pound Adrian Peterson and pound him some more. If Peterson is able to get yards on first down and keep Tavaris in as simple as situations as possible, then Minnesota can win this game. Working or not working though they must stick to the run. Early on in the game it will be necessary to achieve a big offensive lay to keep the defense honest and spread them out a little bit. Minnesota can achieve this on a Peterson toss on a short yardage play, a Berrian deep ball after picking up the blitz, or with a simple Chester Taylor screen pass to combat the blitz. On the defensive side of the ball Minnesota needs to control the line and be physical with the Philadelphia wide outs. They also need to keep an athlete on Westbrook when he comes out of the backfield to receive a pass.
PREDICTION: If Gus Frerotte was QBing it I would probably be on Minnesota here to upset the Eagles, but with Tavarris leading Minnesota, Jim Johnson and the Phily defense should be the factor in this game. I look for AP to have a nice game and keep it tight throughout, but Tavarris isn’t going to be able to make that play with the game on the line. PHILADELPHIA 20-17