The Wild Card Round involved three of the four local teams, with only the Giants watching the playoffs from home. The Eagles and Patriots bowed to the Cowboys and Ravens, respectively. The Jets remain in the fight for the promised land, as they advanced against the Bengals. The Jets are also as big an underdog as any other team, tied with the Cardinals as seven-point underdogs.
Before we get to our predictions and Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em for the Divisional Championship Round, let’s recap the Wild Card Round:
Wild Card Round Top Fantasy Performers
1. Kurt Warner ARZ – 47 points (29-for-33, 379 yards, 5 TD (15,15,33,11,17), 0 INT)
2. Aaron Rodgers GBY – 44 points (28-for-42, 422 yards, 4 TD (6,10,30,11), 1 INT, 3 rushes for 13 yards, 1 rushing TD (1), 1 fumble lost)
T3. Tony Romo DAL – 17 points (23-for-35, 244 yards, 2 TD (1,6), 0 INT, 2 rushes for 4 yards)
T3. Mark Sanchez NYJ – 17 points (12-for-15, 182 yards, 1 TD (45), 0 INT, 3 rushes for -2 yards)
1. Ray Rice BAL – 29 points (22 rushes for 159 yards, 2 TD (83,1))
T2. Cedric Benson CIN – 27 points (21 rushes for 169 yards, TD (47), 3 catches for 12 yards)
T2. Felix Jones DAL – 27 points (16 rushes for 148 yards, TD (73), 1 catch for 30 yards)
1. Jeremy Maclin PHL – 24 points (7 catches for 146 yards, TD (76))
2. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ – 21 points (6 catches for 82 yards, 2 TD (33,11), 1 fumble lost)
3. Steve Breaston ARZ – 20 points (7 catches for 125 yards, TD (17), 1 rush for 28 yards)
1. Dustin Keller NYJ – 22 points (3 catches for 99 yards, TD (45))
2. Jermichael Finley GBY – 21 points (6 catches for 159 yards)
3. Spencer Havner GBY – 9 points (2 catches for 16 yards, TD (11))
1. Scott Suisham DAL – 12 points (2-for-2 in field goals (25,48), 4-for-4 in extra points)
T2. Mason Crosby GBY – 9 points (1-for-2 in field goals (20), 6-for-6 in extra points)
T2. Billy Cundiff BAL – 9 points (2-for-2 in field goals (27), 3-for-3 in extra points)
T2. Neil Rackers ARZ – 9 points (1-for-2 in field goals (23), 6-for-6 in extra points)
T1. Cardinals ARZ – 13 points (1 INT, 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 FRTD (17), 45 points allowed)
T1. Cowboys DAL – 13 points (1 INT, 4 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 14 points allowed)
3. Ravens BAL – 12 points (3 INT, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 14 points allowed)
DIVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Saturday 4:30pm - Arizona at New Orleans (-7)
Saturday 8:15pm - Baltimore at Indianapolis (-6)
Sunday 1:00pm - Dallas at Minnesota (-3)
Sunday 4:30pm - N.Y. Jets at San Diego (-7)
Divisional Championship Picks:
ARZ-NO: Saints win, but Cardinals (+7) cover
The Cardinals just came off a big offensive showdown against the Packers and this looks like a similar matchup. The Saints are also a passing offense and their defense has a tendency to be overrated just like the Packers. The Saints started the season with a great defense, but they have been pedestrian over their last six games. Look for a punch-and-counterpunch type of game and a rested Saints team winning by a field goal.
BAL-IND: Colts win and cover (-6)
The Ravens are at their best when they run the ball, and the Colts are at their worst when they defend the run, especially without Bob Sanders, who is out for the season. But, the Colts have shown they do not need much time to execute their offensive plan and the Ravens may only be able to score on the Colts by grinding out long drives and running the ball. If the Colts pass well, quick scores will be needed and the Ravens will have a tough time doing that.
DAL-MIN: Vikings win and cover (-3)
The Cowboys are a tough team to figure. They win when you expect them to lose and they have lost when you expect them to win, that is, until last week. The Cowboys beat the Eagles and looked good doing it. So, naturally, a struggling Vikings team should fall prey to a hot Cowboys team, right? Wrong. The Cowboys will prove why they are such an enigmatic team against Favre and his weapons.
NYJ-SDG: Chargers win, but Jets cover (+7)
The Chargers come in to this game healthy (1 player on the injury report) and with the two best receivers on either team (Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates). But, the Jets won on rushing and defense. Their defense will have to be at their best, and for the Jets to win, Darrelle Revis needs to have a big day shutting down Jackson and the rest of the defense has to find a way to shut down Gates. The maturation of Mark Sanchez will continue, but he will not be able to pull this one out.
Start 'Em/Sit 'Em
QB: Tony Romo DAL (start) vs. Kurt Warner ARZ (sit)
How can you sit a quarterback after a 29-for-33 performance? Easy. When the Saints defense blitzes, Warner will have to find the open man very quickly and Anquan Boldin will miss another game. The best defense against Warner is a blitzing defense that gets to Warner. Romo may find his receivers deep against a mediocre Vikings secondary.
RB: Willis McGahee BAL (start) vs. LaDainian Tomlinson SDG (sit)
The Ravens will be able to run on the Colts and though McGahee is the backup to Ray Rice in the Ravens backfield, McGahee will still get enough touches, possibly matching the 20 carries he had last week. The Chargers are no longer Tomlinson’s team. This is Philip Rivers’s team and the Chargers run a passing offense. Other than goal-line touches, Tomlinson should not be a featured part of the offense.
WR: Robert Meachem NO (start) vs. Vincent Jackson SDG (sit)
When the Saints last won games, Meachem was the go-to guy. The Saints are going to have to pass their way past the Cardinals with all of the injuries to their running backs. Jackson will go up against Darrelle Revis, who brings with him an impressive resume of shutting down top wideouts.
Last Week’s Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em Results (2-1)
QB: Joe Flacco BAL (start) vs. Carson Palmer CIN (sit) – (L, Palmer 9, Flacco minus-1)
RB: Chris Wells ARZ (start) vs. Marion Barber DAL (sit) – (W, Wells 9, Barber 0)
WR: Julian Edelman NE (start) vs. Anquan Boldin ARZ (sit) – (W, Edelman 12, Boldin DNP)
Playoff Team Rankings
1. Manning IND, 2. Brees NO, 3. Favre MIN, 4. Warner ARZ, 5. Rivers SDG, 6. Romo DAL, 7. Flacco BAL, 8. Sanchez NYJ
1. Jones/Greene NYJ, 2. Rice/McGahee/McClain BAL, 3. Peterson/Taylor MIN, 4. Barber/Jones/Choice DAL, 5. Tomlinson/Sproles SDG, 6. Addai/Brown IND, 7. Bell/Thomas/Bush NO, 8. Wells/Hightower ARZ
1. Wayne/Garcon/Clark IND, 2. Fitzgerald/Breaston/Doucet ARZ, 3. Colston/Meachem/Shockey NO, 4. Rice/Harvin/Shiancoe MIN, 5. Austin/Williams/Witten DAL, 6. Jackson/Floyd/Gates SDG, 7. Cotchery/Edwards/Keller NYJ, 8. Mason/Clayton/Heap BAL
1. Kaeding SDG, 2. Longwell MIN, 3. Feely NYJ, 4. Suisham DAL, 5. Rackers ARZ, 6. Stover IND, 7. Cundiff BAL, 8. Hartley NO
1. Whisenhunt ARZ, 2. Harbaugh BAL, 3. Payton NO, 4. Turner SDG, 5. Ryan NYJ, 6. Childress MIN, 7. Phillips DAL, 8. Caldwell IND
1. NYJ, 2. BAL, 3. MIN, 4. NO, 5. DAL, 6. SDG, 7. IND, 8. ARZ
1. MIN (21), 2. NYJ (25), T3. NO (27), T3. SDG (27), T5. ARZ (28), T5. BAL (28), 7. IND (29), 8. DAL (31)
Playoff Pick Standings
Straight Up: 2-2, NYJ (W), DAL (L), BAL (L), ARZ (W)
Against The Spread: 2-2, NYJ (W), DAL (L), BAL (L), ARZ (W)
Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em: 2-1 (Starts: 20 points, Sits: 9 points)
We will break down each of the four Divisional Championship matchups on Sports With The StatMan (#42) this Sunday night, January 17th. Join us at our new time, 8-9pm Eastern. We will be among the first to analyze the upcoming Conference Championship games. Besides football, we'll talk about the Carlos Beltran situation. We will also have some NHL talk, as the Devils beat the Rangers in a classic at the Garden and the Islanders are surprising even themselves.
Here are the ways to follow along and get in touch with the show:
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