Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts on this Sunday

The NFC Championship game might be the biggest surprise to me from the entire season. Yes - before the season began, I predicted that the Eagles would outlast any of their NFC East rivals, but I figure that to be a regular season thing, not post. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised by just about anything - I could just as easily see a Cardinals-Ravens Super Bowl as a Steelers-Eagles bowl. That said, if I had to make a prediction - and I don't think, given the last couple of weeks, anything can be said decisively - this is my breakdown on what to expect this weekend...

The Eagles are playing great defense right now, but the Cardinals have more weapons on offense than the Giants, and the Cardinals are playing as well on offense as the Eagles are on defense. Additionally, like the Colts during their championship run a couple of years ago, the Cardinals are actually playing sterling defense right now.

Of all the teams left, the Cardinals might be playing the best across the board. I don't know that this will translate into a Lombardi being raised in the desert, but, at this point, it wouldn't surprise me....but I'm getting ahead of myself.

If I had to call it, I would say that the Cardinals are going to walk out of this one as the winner. Donovan McNabb had an okay game last weekend, but not great, completing only 55 percent of his passes with one touchdown and one turnover. If the Cardinals make McNabb have to beat them in the same way the Giants did (taking away Brian Westbrook), then I have a hard time believing that the Eagles will keep up.

I think that Arizona has too many weapons on offense, and if the Cardinals line keeps Kurt Warner upright (the Patriots showed back in the 2001 Super Bowl that the best way to rattle Warner is to pressure the receivers and knock them off their routes, not to blitz Warner - and the Eagles D lives by the blitz), I don't think the Eagles have the cover guys to match up with the Arizona receivers.

My guess is that the Cards walk out with a ten point win, but, as I said, after the two rounds we have already witnessed, nothing will surprise me.

Over in the AFC, I see, in essence, two large cavemen smacking the crap out of each other with their clubs.

This is in no way, shape, or form, an offensive struggle of any kind. We're looking at the Monster Mash with the two best defenses hammering on grind-it-out style offenses. It will be the sort of game where it won't even come down to the last team with the ball. It will be whatever team's defense comes up with the game-changing play.

I could easily see this as a one point game, decided on field goals, safeties, or an interception return for a touchdown.

If I went based on who I think is more banged up, I would guess that the Steelers were going to win. If I were going on odds, I would go with the Ravens, based on the idea that it is really difficult to beat the same team three times in the same season even when the loser of the first two contests is mediocre - and the Ravens aren't mediocre. They're really good.

If one of these two teams definitively had a quarterback as good as either Donovan McNabb, or Kurt Warner, I would feel that there was a definite advantage for one of the two teams, as such, I just tossed a coin and am going with the Ravens.

There you have it - if my wishy-washy predictions are accurate, we might well have the fowl-est Super Bowl ever. Sorry for the pun, and enjoy the playoffs this weekend. If I think of something between now and Friday, I will be sure to post it, along with a story about this past Saturday night and its relation to my latest column for the Brewing News.


David Sullivan said...

Cards, Ravens in ther big game. I went to the game when the Pats blew out the Cards 47-7, so it would be nice to see them win it.

Kevin Smith said...

I could easily see it be Eagles-Steelers, Cards-Steelers, Cards-Ravens - but I think the match-up is going to be Ravens-Cards for no real strong reason other than my gut. I could argue for why any of the other combinations are likely.

It's gonna be an interesting Sunday.

Chris Stone said...

i learned something on Reiss' Pieces:
"[McGahee] had completed the catch and was a runner. Helmet-to-helmet contact is legal in that situation as it is for any ball carrier (running back, quarterback, or receiver). Helmet-to-helmet contact is prohibited against defenseless players (defined as a receiver in the process of making a catch or a quarterback in the act of passing)."

i can't believe helmet to helmet is allowed at all. clark was the guy that knocked welker out.

stopped by to see what you thought of the ravens steelers game. i'm not that careful a watcher, but it seemed like flacco didn't have many options on offense. if the raven's offense could have done anything...