If you think a team’s play in the regular season is indicative of how it will perform in the playoffs, allow me to reintroduce you to the 2008 Arizona Cardinals. Last season, they got into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. I know what you’re thinking, “How”? Well, the rest of the NFC West was futile and Arizona took advantage of an opportunity, despite its woes, especially on defense. Such a record suggested Arizona lucked up on a playoff spot and spectators even questioned their validity. Well the Cards got the word and when they did, they kicked it up another notch and buzz sawed their way through the postseason. Their momentum was brought to a screeching halt in Super Bowl XLIII (43), but the memorable run put the NFL community on notice saying no matter what the regular season record is, if a team gets in and plays with a true sense of urgency, that team can pull off a lengthy playoff run. Will this year’s playoffs have another dark horse that does the unthinkable? Let’s find out:
Bengals over Jets– I am still trying to figure out why Cincinnati turned down the intensity in the last matchup against Gang Green, which resulted in a 37-0 shutout. Why not aim for the highest seed possible? Home field won’t really be an advantage for the striped cats since the Jets play in similar weather. Look for the Bengals to redeem themselves in the rematch.
Eagles over Cowboys– Dallas has exorcised its December demons. Now the month that matters most is upon us. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game in 13 years. While Tony Romo is playing better and new faces such as Miles Austin and Jay Ratliff are stars in the making, I’ll have to side with history on this one and say that Dallas’ playoff losing streak continues, for at least another year.
Patriots over Ravens– A season after going 11-5 and missing the playoffs, New England wants to get back into familiar territory. The Patriots is one of the few teams that gelled at the right point of the season and the momentum is likely to carry over into the postseason. Not to mention, the Ravens are the most penalized team in the league, an attribute a team doesn’t want in postseason play.
Packers over Cardinals– Could Arizona repeat its run of a season ago? The uncertainty of Anquain Boldin’s health could make that challenging. Green Bay on the other hand, has polished its rusty spots at the right moment of the season. Now that he’s getting the protection he needs, you’d be hard pressed to find another quarterback that is playing as well as Aaron Rodgers right now.
I finished the regular season at 166-90. As mentioned earlier, the playoffs is totally different season. How will I do against the craziness that comes with this postseason? Stay tuned!
By Antoine Hoffman