January 11th, 2010 08:22 EST
The NFL's "Wild" Wild Card Weekend
By the time I woke up, 5AM in Tokyo on Monday, January 11th, it was already too late for the Patriots. They needed three touchdowns and lacked the time or inclination to get them. Before lunch, the Cardinals had allowed a laugher to turn into a barn-burner extraordinaire, but managed to beat the Packers in OT.
It was a weekend of revenge and replays, upsets and the "best surprise is no surprise" games. The Cowboys, who already had beaten the Eagles twice and soundly, did again for the second week in a row. All those "December doomsayers" for the Cowboys must be regretting that they made it to January.
The Cardinals overturned last week`s loss to the Packers, although not for lack of trying. Despite a massive lead, 31-10 in the 3rd quarter, the "House of Cards" defense turned Aaron Rodgers into Dan Marino, at least, for one game. Alas, similar to Marino`s comeback against the Chargers in the playoffs that set the standard for all comebacks to follow, Rodgers similarly came up short.
Joe Flacco of the Ravens proved once again that if you have Ray Lewis on defense and Ray Rice (among other running backs) on offense, you could probably win with Faye Wray at quarterback (OK, obscure, not funny...Sue me!)
The Jets showed up the Bengals in the first playoff game of the Year of the Tiger (Chinese zodiac) with a strong defense that turned Ocho Cinco into Hasta La Vista (OK, not funny, and in Spanish, too!)
So, how goes the next round? As if I should know...
Cowboys at Vikings- Which Favre shows up? The late season, all over the place, Favre? The early season, MVP caliber Favre? The last game of the regular season, workmanlike Favre? We should know early on and that will determine which team wins.
Cardinals at Saints- Can a team with no defense stop the Saints, the NFL`s most complete offense? Will the Cards be on a high coming off the dramatic win? Or worn out?
Jets at Chargers- Will it be the 6-7 Jets who their own coach declared to be finished and then beat some already qualified playoff teams` reserves to get in? Or the bunch that did a number on the Bengals in Cincy?
Ravens at Colts- This could be the match-up of the divisional playoffs. Manning`s firepower versus the Ravens` fire extinguisher defense. The Ravens` run game against the weak against the run Colts. The Colts` power rush against the no-name quarterback, Joe Flacco, who somehow quietly wins a whole lot of playoff games and often on the road.
You may have noticed that while focusing on the showdowns, I made no predictions. It`s not so much that I am too chicken to step out on a limb (Flag-illegal use of metaphor, 15 yards and automatic loss of train of thought). I AM chicken but more than that, I am clueless. I thought the Year of the Tiger meant the Bengals would go all the way and that the Packers would set up a rematch with the Vikings at some point. I thought the Eagles couldn`t lose to the Cowboys three times in the same year and that no one could go into Foxboro in January and beat the Patriots. In other words, the wildest thing about the wild card weekend was the accuracy of my predicitions.
I will not make the same mistake twice so I refrain from any prognosticating. (So I won`t say that I imagine the following; AFC Championship- Colts vs. Jets; NFC Championship- Saints vs. Vikings)