NFL Picks & Pans: Wild Card Edition

The post season starts for real this afternoon and there are a couple of great games today followed by two more Sunday, including the Baltimore Ravens at the New England Patriots game tomorrow afternoon. I'll "Pick & Pan" the Ravens-Patriots game tomorrow morning, but here are my picks on the other three games this Wild Card weekend:

Bengals over Jets: I know, everyone said that Cincinnati laid down for New York and got their brains beaten in so bad that will give enough confidence for it to happen again and besides, the Bengals have not looked very good in losing three of their last four on their way to the AFC North division title. Not me, as I see Cincinnati having a huge home field advantage this time around and with their full complement of starters out there all game it will have a much different result. New York was practically given a gift ride to the post season in that their last two opponents laid down for them in games there was no way in my mind they would have swept had they played their starters. The Jets' rookie QB will not have a post season like ours did last year and the Bengals will try to shut down a tough Jets running game and force Mark Sanchez to beat them. Cincinnati's CB's are as good a pair as any in the league and it amazed me that neither made the Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, I see the Bengals establishing the running game enough to open up the passing lanes ofr Carson Palmer to exploit enough to keep Cincy ahead at the final whistle.

Cowboys over Eagles: It's very simple to me in this game. Frankly, Dallas is a better team than Philadelphia and they've already proven it twice this season. People say it's tough to beat a team three times in a season but to me it's a lot hard to lose twice then beat them. Dallas is playing as well as any team lately and two shutouts in a row over division opponents is a testament that their annual December swoon is a thing of the past. Dallas should continue to dominate Phiily on both sides of the ball and put up points while shutting down the Eagles run game and forcing Donovan McNabb into mistakes that opens the floodgates. Dallas' three headed running attack (sound familiar, Baltimore?) makes the passing game that much better and Romo hasn't faded like he normally does this time of year. Expect this game to be the most lopsided of the weekend.

Cardinals over Packers: While I think that Green Bay is playing as well as anyone the past couple of months and I even said I wouldn't be shocked to see a Packers-Chargers Super Bowl, I now am starting to see a different Arizona  team like we saw last year after they limped into the playoffs and then ran the table up until the Super Bowl loss. The Cards will make sure to protect Kurt Warner and his post season experience should make a huge difference. Of course, we'll see Charles Woodson marking Larry Fitzgerald but don't expect anyone to shut Fitz down. Boldin should play regardless of his injury and this team is loaded anyway with receivers for Warner to target. In addition, the Cardinals run game is under rated and they should be able to run just enough to keep the defense honest. Aaron Rodgers is having a Pro Bowl type of year and also has a great complement of receivers to target. His running game is solid and the defense makes them as complete of a team in the league right now. This should be the best game of the weekend as both teams can score and have playmakers on defense to change the game.

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