Tag Archives: Falcons

Still riding the high – The Pundit gives his final thoughts from Sunday, and looks ahead to the Cardinals…

You know, I really hate Mondays. Hate ’em. I never get enough sleep because my body has adjusted to my weekend schedule – you know, go to bed in the morning, and wake around noon. So right off the bat, I’m walking into work groggy. Today was no exception, of course – I couldn’t fall asleep at a reasonable hour, mustered only four hours of sleep, and had to skip my normal breakfast and coffee to get to work on time. Any other Monday, I’d be starting the week off miserable.

But damn it all if I didn’t feel like a million friggin’ bucks today. I mean, I was feeling absolutely wonderful.

And you know why? Oh, right: E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!! Sometimes, I wonder about my love of sports, and how temperamental it makes my behavior. Had the Eagles lost yesterday, today would have been crappy based on its Mondayness, compounded ten-fold by an Eagles loss. (Editor’s note: Sad, but true).

But today was just a beautiful day. Lovely, really. Some more thoughts about yesterday: Continue reading

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The Pundit previews Eagles vs. Vikings

Eagles Defense vs. Vikings offense

It’s no secret what the Vikings want to do offensively – run, run, and run it some more. They do it a lot (519 times, third in the NFL), they do it well (4.5 yards per carry, sixth in the NFL), and they’ve got the best running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson, to do it. Surely, Tarvaris Jackson has played well as the starter the past four weeks, going 57-89 with eight touchdowns and only one interception, totaling 740 yards. Peyton Manning he is not, Continue reading

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Inside the numbers: The Pundit seeks insight into this Eagles’ season

Combined Record of teams in Eagles’ Wins: 57-63

Combined Record of Teams in Eagles’ Losses: 55-34

Combined Record of Teams in Eagles’ Ties: 3-11-1

Analysis: Well, for the most part, the Eagles win the games they are supposed to. With the exception, of course, of the horrid tie against the Bengals. Because that was sickening. Continue reading

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Fear the flex schedule: Determining when the Eagles will play the Cowboys next week, and why The Pundit is agonizing over it…

Before I get assaulted for assuming an Eagles victory this weekend against the Redskins, let me preface this post: the Redskins may be in turmoil, but this is an NFC East rivalry game. These teams don’t have much love for one another. The Redskins are still a pretty good team, and they want to salvage some respect. By no means is this game a given.

But, assuming the Eagles do win, the damn flex schedule for the following week has only added to the drama at the close of the regular season. And it’s killing me.

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NFL quick hits

It’s funny, really – since the Eagles didn’t play on Sunday, I felt like I had the day off. I’m not entirely certain why, since normally all I do on a Sunday is watch the Eagles. I guess our beloved Birds provide the same amount of stress as a difficult day at the office. (Editor’s note: Try reading this crap all day…) Anyway, it freed me up to check in on the rest of the NFL – here’s what I observed.

– Tampa Bay has a very good defense. Tampa Bay’s offense, minus Jeff Garcia and Earnest Graham, might cost them a playoff birth. The Falcons gave up three turnovers and never really got top receiver Roddy White going, and still squeaked out a win, mostly because Tampa Bay’s offense was putrid. Atlanta did get a huge game from Michael Turner, who rushed for 152 yards, and a stellar performance from John Abraham, whose three sacks brought him to a very quiet 15 1/2 for the season. Give Atlanta credit – they ran the ball well, kept the Tampa Bay’s offense out of the endzone, and pulled out an ugly win. They had the look of a playoff team, and now Eagles fans have to hope that either Minnesota beats them next week, or that disappointing San Diego can beat a suddenly struggling Tampa Bay team next week.

– The Giants are reeling. They did not look good against the Cowboys, giving up eight sacks and never really getting anything going offensively. Not having Jacobs hurt the running game to a point, but I doubt he would have been able to bash his way through the Cowboys defense. Anbody still think this team will be as productive without Plaxico? (Editor’s note: He was always a shot in the leg for their offense). Steve Smith did his job, but Terrence Newman completely shut out Domenik Hixon. The Giants are left to battle for the top seed in the NFC against Carolina next week, and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

Did the loss of this guy handcuff the Giants Super Bowl chances?

Did the loss of this guy handcuff the Giants Super Bowl chances?

– All Pittsburgh does is win. It’s ugly, sloppy, unappealing and nerve-wracking (Editor’s note: Sounds like a date with The Pundit), but they manage to squeak out W’s week in and week out. Their battle against Baltimore was a smashmouth, lunch pail grind from the get-go, and despite the low score, was entertaining throughout. The Ravens will be a very tough team to face if they make the playoffs, and I expect them to come out humming against Dallas next week. Meanwhile, the Steelers will be preparing for a huge showdown against the Titans…

– …who somehow gave up 207 receiving yards to Andre Johnson and lost to the Texans on Sunday. Should Fisher have sent out Bironas for a 51-yard attempt late in the fourth? Maybe, but if Bironas misses it, I guarantee you everyone is talking about how poor that decision was. Fact is, Kerry Collins wasn’t making his throws, and it killed him right until the end of the game. An huuuuuge game against Pittsburgh next week, with the number one seed in the AFC on the line. Oh, and where has this Texans team been all season? A better start to their season, and they’re in the playoff mix right now.

-Way to go, Tavaris Jackson. Now damnit, I want to see that type of performance in a win against Atlanta next week. (Editor’s note: Don’t think of yourself, Tavaris – think of Philadelphia).

– Hey, Buffalo Bills: what in God’s green earth were you thinking dropping back to pass? Run the ball, damnit! Your defense was playing well, and you had run the ball successfully all game long! How many ways can you find to lose football games? You make losing an art. (Editor’s note: Nobody circles the loss column like the Buffalo Bills. And that’s my rumbling, stumbling impression of an archaic routine).

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen / Nobody knows my sorrow...

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen / Nobody knows my sorrow...

– Fantasy Note: I would just like to thank the core of my successful fantasy team this season for absolutely tanking this week, which happens to be my league’s semifinal. A big, warm thank-you to Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis, Chris Johnson, and Tony Gonzalez for combining to score 51.5 points this week. Now, all I need to defeat my opponent is a meager 56 points from Donovan McNabb tomorrow. That shouldn’t be too tough – all he needs to do is throw for 450 yards and five touchdowns, while running for another 50 yards and two TD’s. (Editor’s note: Eh, just another night at the office, right?)

– What we have to look forward to, after the Eagles tomorrow night: Cowboys vs. Ravens. Two defenses playing at a very high level right now, two teams with everything to play for. Falcons vs. Vikings. Atlanta is still fighting to make the playoffs, and if the Vikings win out, and the Giants lose their next two, the Vikings can actually sneak into the bye (they play each other on the last week of the season). That, and they’ve won their last four, and are red-hot right now. Giants vs. Panthers. Top seed in the NFC goes to the victor. This one should a brawl. Titans vs. Steelers. Top seed in the AFC likely goes to the victor (Titans win seals it, Steelers win puts them atop the AFC, would still have to beat the Browns in their season finale). This one should be a war. Eagles vs. Redskins. Eagles playing for their playoff lives, Redskins fighting to salvage some respect from a season teetering dangerously on the edge of disaster. Two NFC East teams that don’t like each other always makes for a good game. Patriots vs. Cardinals. The Patriots are fighting to make the playoffs, and the Cardinals are fighting for a bit of momentum heading into the playoffs. Bucs vs. Chargers. Believe or not, the Chargers can still win their division (by winning their last two, and having the Broncos lose their last two. They play the Broncos the last week of the season). Meanwhile, the Bucs will clinch a playoff spot if they win their last two games. It’s gonna be fun, baby.

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Coming down the stretch: NFL predictions for the final quarter of the season and the Playoffs

Rant (with a few blurbs from The Pundit)

At one of the Packers’ recent press conferences, head coach Mike McCarthy made a statement about the Packers dropping games, noting, “It’s November, we need to be winning football games.”  I thought, damn straight man, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. Here’s some insight on how Rant thinks it will all go down. And going down the last quarter stretch of the season, we get to separate the men from the boys, which is always fun, if you ask me. (Editor’s note: Are the men or the boys more fun for you, Rant?)

NFC Playoff Picture

New York Giants  (11-1)

The Giants have hunger and character. They were not, nor will they ever be, satisfied with their Super Bowl win. Eli Manning took a huge step during the 2007 postseason, and has now joined his brother in top-tier QB status. This is the best overall team in the NFL at this juncture, and it just so happens that they play in the toughest division in the league, as well.

Eli Manning is chucking the ball to whomever he wants, and has developed a good rapport with second year man Steve Smith, journeyman Domenik Hixon and the ageless Amani Toomer. (Editor’s note: And now, without Plaxico around, it’s safe once again to use the shotgun. Ahhhh, making fun of Plax really is a blast). Then there’s the powerful running game led by “Earth, Wind, and Fire” as they say in New York, and their ridiculous defense. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnola has the perfect blend of youth and experience on his defense right now. The Giants will continue to execute, and in turn, will win games. They won’t wow anybody with finesse, but they’ll smash people in the jaw during the playoffs.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Philadelphia (W), at Dallas (W), vs. Carolina (W), at Minnesota (L)

The Giants will further assert themselves over the next three games, then Coughlin will rest his starters and allow the Vikings to get into the playoffs by dropping a loss in Minnesota.

Final Record:  14-2

Playoff Spot:  No. 1 Seed; NFC East Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I agree with Rant – the Giants are playing too well right now to doubt them. But are they peaking too soon?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (9-3)

Any winning team led by the always consistent Jeff Garcia is dangerous, especially with that tenacious Tampa D. Look for the Bucs to take their division in the next couple of weeks and head into the playoffs with confidence. Their 4th ranked defense is going to scare some teams, compounded by the fact that Jeff Garcia does not turn the ball over. (Editor’s note: He’s only thrown 3 picks this year, and only 9 in his last 30 games. Impressive. Hey, if it smells like a game-manager, and looks like a game-manager…)

They have a great 1-2 punch in running backs Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn, and Antonio Bryant is probably the best wide receiver nobody knows. (Editor’s note: May be better for him that way – when people know about him, it’s normally for the wrong reasons). But Tampa’s defense will have to step up if their offense starts to struggle in the playoffs, and I think they’ll do it. This is a solid team that will continue to play consistent football into the playoffs.

Remaining Schedule:  at Carolina (W), at Atlanta (W), vs. San Diego (W), vs. Oakland (W)

The Bucs will assert their control on the NFC South with a good win over Carolina on Monday, and win out the rest of this season if Jon Gruden decides he doesn’t need to rest his starters the last game of the season.

Final Record:  13-3

Playoff Spot:  No. 2 Seed; NFC South Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I agree, though I think they lose the last week of the season, resting their starters, as the Giants will already have top seed in the playoffs locked up. They settle for the two-seed at 12-4.

Arizona Cardinals  (7-5)

This team is all about Kurt Warner right now, who is statistically up there with Drew Brees this year. (Editor’s note: And a possible MVP candidate). Ken Wisenhunt decided to go with Warner over Matt Leinart, and it’s paying dividends. By the way, I don’t know what is wrong with Leinart; when he got drafted, I thought he was the most NFL-ready QB I’d ever seen. (Editor’s note: Hmmmm…statue in the pocket, not a very strong arm, came in thinking he was a playboy instead of being a player). Anyway, Warner is having success in large part because of stud receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. That being said, I don’t think the offensive line isn’t getting enough credit, led by second-year tackle Levi Brown out of Penn State (YEAH BOY!).

Despite their pass-blocking abilities, the O-line hasn’t helped the one-dimensional Cardinals support much of a run game.  This and their lack of consistenty on defense will bite this team in the playoffs after they finally win their division after years of people predicting them to do so.  It would be cheap to say that anybody could win the NFC West, because the Cardinals are playing good football, at least offensively. We’ll just ignore their horrible game here in Philly.

Remaining Schedule:  vs. St. Louis (W), vs. Minnesota (W), at New England (L), vs. Seattle (W)

Winning 3 of their last 4 will amp up the Cardinals for the playoffs, allowing this team to bounce back from their reality check this past Thursday in Philly.

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 3 Seed; NFC West Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: I agree again. It’s as though we’ve been discussing football a lot lately, or something. St. Louis and Seattle are gimme’s, the Patriots will have too much at stake for the Cardinals to beat them, and they will feast on Minnesota’s 21st ranked pass defense.

Minnesota Vikings  (7-5)

Looking back now, we all know that Tavaris Jackson was a letdown, but what else has kept this team mediocre? They boast arguably the best run-blocking O-line in the NFL and arguably the best runner in Adrian Peterson.  But QB and receiver is a problem for Minnesota’s offense. Gus Frerotte has filled in adequately, but certainly cannot be asked to do much more than manage a game. Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian are decent wideouts, but nothing that will scare defenses. The Vikings will suffer in playoff contention, as defenses will be keying on the run, making it difficult for this team to survive.

Minnesota’s defense is the team’s stronger side, but was just weakened with the loss of DT tandem Pat and brotha-from-anotha-motha Kevin Williams. Unfortunately for Minnesota, that suspension is for the rest of the regular season, all for using a diuretic that masks steroids in urine testing. These two guys are behemoths in the middle of Minnesota’s stifling D-Line, averaging 6’4″ and 314 pounds between them – that’s a lot of man to move (Editor’s note: Two things here: first of all, that’s what she said. Second, I gotta think they were using the diuretics for weight loss, and not to get stronger – each are already gargantuan).  The D’s strongest point has just been broken, but it won’t be enough to stop this team from winning their division.

Vikings Remaining Schedule:  at Detroit (W), at Arizona (L), Atlanta (L), New York (W)

What will help this team is their piss-poor division.  Like the Cardinals in the pathetic NFC West, the Vikings will almost win their division by default, though Chicago will be nipping at their heals.  This will take Brad Childress off the hot seat temporarily. (Editor’s note: Is he on already?)  I see the Vikings beating Detroit (duh) and a resting New York team the last game of the season, but losing at Arizona and against Atlanta because of their losses on the defensive line.

Final Record:  9-7

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 4 Seed; NFC North Division Champion

The Pundit’s Take: In agreement once more. Arizona will go pass-happy on them, beating them in a shoot-out, and Atlanta will pound the ball right up the gut, where the Williams Wall used to be.

Carolina Panthers  (9-3)

Next in line, the fake Carolina Panthers.  Fake, you say?  Yeah, because they are faking fans and Vegas betters alike that they’re a semi-legit team, which they really aren’t (Editor’s note: For reference, check their cake schedule: their best wins this year are against Arizona, Atlanta and Chicago. They don’t have one big, signature win).  Jake Delhomme is too inconsistent to lead this team to playoff glory, and though he has put up solid numbers this year, you don’t know what kind of performance he’s gonna give you from one game to the next.

The Panthers have retained a solid defensive unit the past couple of years, led by beast Julius Peppers.  And fortunately for the Panthers, they’ve picked up a great ground game this year, though I seriously doubt it will be enough for this team to make a big playoff run. Still, this season has probably moved John Fox off the hot seat for another year. Don’t get too comfortable though, John – you still need a more consistent QB if you wanna stay in Raleigh.

Remaining Schedule:  Tampa Bay (L), vs. Denver (W), at NY Giants (L), at New Orleans (W)

The Panthers will show their inferiority against Tampa and New York, but will earn a playoff spot with their win at New Orleans the last game of the season.  Some people might think Carolina will lose this game, but I think the Panthers will run the ball effectively against a porous Saints D, keeping the ball out of the hands of the ever-dangerous Drew Brees.

Final Record:  11-5

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 5 Seed; Wild Card Seed No. 1

The Pundit’s take: Agree, though I can’t stop focusing on the Denver game. If they get a hot Denver team, they may be in trouble. A cold Denver team is an easy win for them. I think they make the playoffs at 11-5.

Washington Redskins  (7-5)

The always interesting Redskins; they show dominance, then they come out flat. The only thing I can tell about this team is that they’re good, but don’t have the identity or mentality to win a championship. New head coach Jim Zorn has done well in his first year with Washington, but his team can’t seem to quite put it all together at once. Jason Campbell is playing well, but he still hasn’t gotten to the level where he can lead the team to victory on his own. Clinton Portis has been running all over people, but his multiple injuries are coming to the surface at the wrong time.

The defense is looking good, especially after acquiring castoff CB DeAngelo Hall, adding great depth in the defensive secondary.  I’m still not sure why they went after 34 year-old Jason Taylor, but I’m not calling the shots in Washington, owner Dan Snyder is.  Snyder is still convinced that overspending on free agent players and coaches, along with drafting overrated college receivers, is the quick and easy way to win a championship.  Sorry Dan, but there is no easy button for Super Bowl winners.

Remaining Schedule: at Baltimore (L), at Cincinnati (W), vs. Philadelphia (W), at San Francisco (W)

The Skins will lose this Sunday at Baltimore with or without a banged-up Clinton Portis, but will rattle off 3 straight victories and get into the playoffs.  The Redskins get the nod over Dallas in the Wild Card tiebreaker because they will finish with a better division record:  Washington 3-3, Dallas 2-4. The Redskins then get the spot over Atlanta in the Wild Card tie breaker because they will finish with more wins in conference, 8 to 6.  What a mess of shit my predictions brought along with them!

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  No. 6 Seed; Wild Card Seed No. #2

The Pundit’s Take: This is where I begin to differ with Rant. I don’t see the Redskins beating Baltimore, but the game that will haunt them is their match-up with the Eagles, who I think will exact revenge against the ‘Skins. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t see the Eagles running the table to finish the season. However, they probably should have beat them the first time around, and who knows if Portis will be healthy for round two. That, and the Eagles defense has cranked it up a few notches since their last meeting. I see the ‘Skins finishing at 9-7 and missing the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys  (8-4)

Maybe Terrell Owens is right when he says he needs to get the ball in order for the Cowboys to win.  Regardless, the soon to be 35 year-old shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, a benefit from keeping his body in peak physical condition year round. Oh yeah, and his quarterback isn’t going to be slowing down either. Romo is back to his loose and mobile self once more after returning from a broken finger on his throwing hand. I don’t know if Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones gathered their team together the past couple of weeks to try and rid themselves of the off field crap, but this team is getting some momentum going at the right time.

We all know what the Cowboys are capable of and look for them to make a statement down the stretch.  I don’t think it will be enough to take the division from the Giants, but I do see this team grabbing an NFC Wildcard spot if they can beat the Eagles in Philly the last game of the season; unfortunately for this team, it won’t be able to do that.  Andy Reid will want to give his city something to celebrate and give McNabb a nice sendoff gift before he is kicked out of town.  The Eagles will play fired-up football and knock Dallas out of playoff contention, ending Philly’s season on a high note.

Remaining Schedule:  at Pittsburgh (W), vs. NY Giants (L), vs. Baltimore (W), at Philadelphia (L)

Dallas will beat Pittsburgh convincingly, lose a squeaker to the Giants, then crush Baltimore.  But losing in Philadelphia will drive a steak into their playoff hearts, adding yet another saga to the Cowboys-Eagles rivalry.

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: Again, I can’t agree with Rant. The Cowboys have a BRUTAL finish to their season, but I think they’re about to catch fire. I think they win every game except a battle against the Giants. As much as I despise myself for even thinking it, I think they beat the Eagles with their own playoff spot hanging in the balance, finishing 11-5. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find some rope, a step-ladder and a high ceiling.

Atlanta Falcons  (8-4)

Who would’ve thought we’d be talking about the Atlanta Falcons as a potential playoff team this year?  Billionaire Arthur Blank found a good one in rookie head coach Mike Smith, who captured the trust of his team in a matter of months.  Part of this must be due to players believing in a sound system that Smith has installed in Atlanta.  The other part is probably due to Smith drafting rookie sensation Matt Ryan, who has gotten his team behind him faster than my friend the Pundit likes to get behind good-looking men at the bar. Oh, SNAP! (Editor’s note: Ahahahahahahaha.)

The Pundit’s Take: Alright Rant, I see what you did there. I’m not even going to retaliate. No sir, not my style. I won’t mention that Rant has Barbara Streisand’s entire library of music, or that he tried to mix me an appletini the other night. Nope…not going to stoop to his level.

The Falcons, led by phenom Matt Ryan, road-grader Michael Turner, and rising star receiver Roddy White, are truly this year’s Cinderella team. I’ve been saying even before the draft that Matt Ryan has whatever “it” is to be an NFL quarterback while many of my colleagues dissed me. Now I’m laughing in their faces about it because the kid seems to have his team in position for a playoff run. Oh yeah, and the rook has his team ranked 6th in total offense (9th in scoring). ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS GOOD AT SLINGING THE BALL!!!

But the Falcons fall short on the other side of the ball, with a 24th ranked defense; this will come back to haunt them. Doesn’t matter though, as the football starved fans in Atlanta are glad to move their franchise into a new chapter in Falcons history.

Remaining Schedule:  at New Orleans (L), vs. Tampa Bay (L), at Minnesota (W), vs. St. Louis (W)

The Falcons will drop two straight division losses, with a tight loss to the Saints and a huge defeat against the Bucs. Atlanta will then win its last two games, but it won’t be enough to beat out Washington for the remaining playoff spot.

Final Record:  10-6

NFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: Yup, I see it the same way. New Orleans is tough at home, 5-1 below sea level this year. And Tampa Bay is more experienced and boasts a tough D. Hell of a season, though, especially for a team that is probably about two years ahead of schedule after the Mike Vick debacle and DeAngelo Hall’s unfriendly departure.

Chicago Bears  (6-6)

Oh, da Bears. Another team I could care less about, and you should too.  This team could win the struggling NFC North but are not a playoff team. The Bears still can’t field a consistent offense for 16 games, and it will stay that way until they get a real quarterback and some more playmakers. Matt Forte was a step in the right direction for the Bears’ offense, but quarterback and receiver remain an issue. (Editor’s note: Forte is the truth). Some people are sold on Kyle Orton, but I’m not; he’s not their answer at QB and he showed that against Minnesota this past Sunday.

The Bears will have to ride a heroic defensive effort if they want to make the playoffs, though it’s not as stingy as it has been the past couple of years, ranking 16th in total defense and points allowed. Unfortunately for Chicago, they’ll lose when they can’t score points for their slumping offense. This team seems to have some identity issues after making the Super Bowl two years ago.

Remaining Schedule:  Jacksonville (W), New Orleans (L), Green Bay (W), at Houston (L)

I see the Bears dropping losses to New Orleans and Houston, moving to 8-8 on the season and losing their division and playoff hopes all in one.  The momentum in the NFC North swung in the direction of Minnesota after Chicago’s forgettable performance this past Sunday at the hands of their division rival.

Final Record:  8-8

NFC Playoff Spot:  OUT

The Pundit’s Take: I agree with the 8-8 record, though I would swap the Green Bay and Houston results.

Teams not mentioned:

Philadelphia and New Orleans: Each would need to run the table to make the playoffs, and I don’t see it happening.

The Pundit’s Take: Agreed.

Rant’s NFC Playoff Seeds

1. New York Giants

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Arizona Cardinals

4. Minnesota Vikings

5. Carolina Panthers

6. Washington Redskins

The Pundit’s NFC Playoff Seeds

1. Giants

2. Bucs

3. Cardinals

4. Vikings

5. Cowboys

6. Panthers (How did the Cowboys edge the Panthers, each team possessing an identical record? Well, they didn’t play head-to-head, so that got tossed out. And they each finished 7-5 in my prediction. On to like foes: against GB, NYG, and TB, the Cowboys were 2-2, while the Panthers were 1-3).

Rant’s NFC Playoff Predictions

Wildcard Round: Panthers over Vikings, Cardinals over Redskins

Divisional Round: Giants over Panthers, Bucs over Cardinals

NFC Championship: New York over Tampa Bay

The Pundit’s Playoff Predictions

Wildcard Round: Cowboys over Vikings, Panthers over Cardinals

Divisional Round: Cowboys over Tampa Bay, Giants over Panthers

NFC Championship: Cowboys over Giants (The Cowboys will come into this game having won eight of their last nine games, and I don’t think the Giants can beat them three times in the same season. I don’t know, I just have a feeling this team is about to come to life. I really, really want to be wrong, and I’m hoping I’m jixing the living hell out of them).

Look for AFC predictions this evening.

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No Eagles? No problem…The Pundit previews a few games worth watching

With no Eagles to watch on Sunday, I’ve been trying to decide what I will do with my day tomorrow. It would be a spectacular day to catch up on some laundry, do some cleaning around the house, take a trek to the Free Library, and cook a few meals for the upcoming week.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

While that is what I probably should do, what I likely will do is watch football all day, flipping over to the Sixers at five. The one nice thing about not having the Eagles game on tomorrow is that I can frantically follow my fantasy players – a win tomorrow, and I clinch a playoff spot, baby! (Editor’s note: The Pundit enjoys long walks on the beach, fine dining, and fantasy football – which one doesn’t fit?)

There are some great storylines around the NFL tomorrow. I’m not going to bother with predictions, because that’s a truly fruitless endeavor this year, but I will highlight a few of the games worth paying attention to.

1:00 Kickoffs

Giants at Redskins – Hey, any NFC East clash is worth tuning in for. This one is probably more meaningful for the Redskins than it is for the Giants, as every week becomes vital for a Redskins team fighting for a playoff spot. Look for a grind-it-out, defense-oriented, old-school football game. Should be a good watch.

Saints at Bucs– The Saints are fighting for their playoff lives. I don’t think they’ll make it, but this would not only be a big win against a division foe, but would be a confidence victory against another playoff contender. Are the Bucs legit? Their defense seems to be, allowing only 16.4 points and 274.7 yards per game, good for for third and fourth in the NFL, respectively. Will their second ranked pass defense be able to slow down the Saints top ranked passing attack, or will Drew Brees light them up like he did the Packers? A game with big playoff implications.

Panthers at Packers– Is Carolina for real? Can Green Bay do enough down the stretch to win the division? Will Brett Favre prepare the huge crow dinner he’s been cooking this year for the Packers’ organization Cajun style? (Editor’s note: Oh c’mon, Aaron Rodgers has been pretty damn good this year). Really, this boils down to Green Bay’s defense: If they don’t pick up their game, Green Bay is shot. For Carolina to be considered a legitimate threat in the NFC, they need to win games like these. This one could go either way, though its always tough to go into Lambeau.

4:00 Kickoffs

Falcons at Chargers – Who cares if they’re only 4-7 – the Chargers can still win the AFC West! God, what a disappointment the Chargers have been this year. At the beginning of the year, if I told you the Falcons might make the playoffs and the Chargers likely wouldn’t even make .500, you would have told me to get off the crack. (Editor’s note: The first step is admitting you have a problem, Pundit). Matty Ice and the Falcons are a great story – no one is dogging them anymore, huh? (Editor’s note: Groan. You’re all bark and no bite, Pundit).

Broncos at Jets – The Broncos probably won’t win this game, but a victory here would all but seal up the division for them. Despite the fact that they would only be 7-5. The AFC West is a joke. The Jets aren’t. And it’s not just because of that guy playing quarterback – they stuff the running game, and do a good job of churning out yards on the ground themselves. But if they have a weakness, it’s against the pass, and if the Broncos have a strength, it’s throwing the ball. The Broncos could use a good win, and the Jets still have the Pats nipping at their ankles – should make for a pretty good contest.

Steelers at Patriots– Brady who? Alright, so maybe we’re not there yet, but Matt Cassel has been nice. That guy Belichick can coach a bit, can’t he? I don’t really know what to think about the Steelers – they play good defense, they have a pretty balanced offensive attack, and I think Ben Roethlisberger is the real deal. Yet, if I was playing them, they wouldn’t scare me. I might be totally off here, but I just don’t see them as an elite team this year. I think they’re very good, but not elite yet – the Patriots need this more, and I’d put my money on them taking care of business against the Steelers at home.

Sunday Night

Bears at Vikings – Let’s play “Who wants to win the NFC North?” Contestant number one: You play tough run defense, run the ball well, and try desperately to keep your quarterback from having to make plays in the passing game. Contestant number two: you play tough run defense, run the ball well, and try desperately to keep your quarterback from having to make plays in the passing game. Can we just call this Matt Forte vs. Adrian Peterson and move on? And yet, the last time these two teams played, the score was 48-41. How the hell did that happen? A Vikings win gives them a big advantage over the Bears, who they already beat. (Actual Editor’s note: No, that’s incorrect. The Bears actually won the last game between these two, 48-41, and thus, a Bears win gives them a major advantage.) Still, it’s a divisional rivalry, and the Sixers will be over by the time it starts, so its worth a view, if for nothing else than to marvel at Adrian Peterson.

So there you have it. Some intriguing match-ups, and a lot of playoff shuffling will go on by the end of the day. So go ahead – see if you can do some lawn work. Try to rearrange the garage. See how much cleaning you get done. We both know that Sunday autopilot will kick in, and your ass will be on the couch, watching football.

Fight the urge if you must – you know it’s a fight you want to lose.

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