I think this is the first time in NFL history that the first weekend of the playoffs will feature 3 repeat matchups from the last weekend of the regular season. I'm not sure what that means, but there you have it.
Eagles/Cowboys - Well, there's been the usual Philly sports media tempest in a teapot about McNabb's recent comments. What did he say that was so horrible? Quoting Philly.com:
"On Sunday, McNabb was asked whether the Eagles showed their youth. He answered in part that he felt they did, "in situations where everyone began to look around to see who was going to make the play, rather than stepping up and making that play. That's something that comes with the territory, when you have a young group . . . all throughout the year, we've had guys step up and make big plays for us when their name's called, and today it just didn't happen."
The way I see it, the Eagles *did* look like a bunch of young guys who were playing in their first really big game last Sunday. Sure, Don needs to make a play, but somebody has to catch the damn ball, and the coaches need to call plays that put us in a position to be successful.
And, once again quoting Philly.com:
"It all starts with me," McNabb said yesterday.
"I have to raise my level of play," he said yesterday, but then he kept going with this:
"And everyone else has to, as well."
Followed by the editorial comment: "Ugh."
Really? Big5 saying that everyone needs to step it up Saturday if we hope to walk away with a win merits an "Ugh" from Sam Donnellon? I guess he thinks everyone else played great Sunday and Don was the only one doing anything wrong. I also guess he must've watched a different game than I watched.
Moral of the story? Don't read the Philly sports media.
I did promise blog fan Chris that I'd give some hope.
Here's hope point 1: it's damn near impossible to beat any team 3 times in the same season. Particularly a division opponent. Particularly two weeks in a row.
Here's hope point 2: Andy Reid has never lost his first game in the playoffs. Nor has Donovan McNabb.
Here's hope point 3: the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since before I lived in DC. Wade Phillips and Tony Romo have never won a playoff game together.
Here's hope point 4: we don't have to worry that they've totally scoped our game plan because we didn't show them anything on Sunday.
Here's hope point 5: the entire NFL Total Access team called us to win. As I believe Marshall Faulk said, "The Eagles play best when their backs are against the wall. Which is why I picked them to lose last week, and why I'm picking them to win this week."
Here's hope point 6: after sneaking by us earlier and spanking us on Sunday, the Cowboys HAVE to be overconfident. Right?
OK, in all seriousness, I am very worried about this game. We were so flat last week it was scary. We can't play that badly two weeks in a row, right? Not with so much on the line, right? We can't be the team to end the Cowboys playoff drought, right?
I'm cautiously hopeful right now. And I think we'll know which way this is going to go within the first 10 minutes of the game. If it's not going our way, you might have to talk me down off the 14th Street bridge.
Packers/Cardinals: You know how it's hard to beat a team two weeks in a row? Not for the Packers. I don't think the Cards have the firepower on D to take down the Packers. Of course, I didn't buy the Cardinals hype last year, and look how that turned out. But I'm still calling the Packers.
Ravens/Patriots: The Pats are not looking so untouchable now that their defense is weak-ass and Tom Brady gets knocked down. At this time of the year, it tends to come down to guts, balls, and who's clutch. The Ravens win on two of those, and, I think, win this game.
Bengals/Jets: Have I mentioned how annoyed I am that the Jets got a gimme against the Colts in week 16, which is the only reason they were even in the running for the playoffs? Because I'm still really, really annoyed. I would love to see Ocho Cinco and the Bengals win a playoff game. They've only even *been* to the playoffs three times in the past 20 years. And they lost their first game one of those times. And it was the most recent visit (2005 season). I'm calling Bengals, but it's more hope than confidence. Also, picking all 4 wildcard teams seems nuts.