Editor’s note – This is the second part to Jay-Mo’s look at the this weekend’s 2010 playoff games. If you haven’t read the first part yet, you can find it here.
Cowboys at Vikings – Sunday, 1 p.m.
Dallas got off to a great playoff push by stashing its December jinx back in the closet and putting together a solid performance last week. Although the Cowboys matched up very well against the Eagles, the ‘Boys displayed two keys factors that tell us this Sunday should have the same result — Tony Romo made great decisions and Dallas ran the ball with a purpose. That leads us to Felix Jones, who is kind of like Marion Barber was a few years ago priming to replace Julius Jones. While you enjoy Felix’s explosive bursts and receiving ability, jot down some insights on Tashard Choice, who was once a big time Heisman candidate at Georgia Tech. Choice could be one of those late round fantasy picks you snag just in case Felix or Marion go down or lose favor in Dallas’ offense.
Minnesota could be the most talented team in the playoffs — well, on paper. We’ve heard that for years about San Diego, yet the Chargers haven’t played in the Super Bowl since the real Beverly Hills 90210 was on television. This game will probably make a lot of Adrian Peterson owners furious, as I suspect the Vikings have been saving him just for this time of year. We know what he can do, but are we convinced Sidney Rice is a reliable WR1? It will also be important to see how Minnesota schemes Percy Harvin, because they may have been saving some gem plays for the playoffs, which could shed some new light on how he could be used next season. Also, check out how quick Brett Favre (and count how often) he looks to Visanthe Shiancoe on third down and in the red zone. This breakout TE got first dibs on most of the TD opportunities during the season.
My foolish prediction: Dallas 20, Minnesota 10 … I still don’t know how Flozell Adams is going to block Jared Allen or avoid having five to eight false starts, but I figure Dallas is aware of the matchup problem and is prepared (dump offs to Felix Jones and bubble screens to Miles Austin. Favre is Favre, and there is something fishy going on in Minnesota, so I tend to run away from weird smells.
Jets at Chargers – Sunday, 4:40 p.m.
New York has been getting a lot of love from NFL pundits this week. Their coach has boasted the talk and the team has walked the walk, so far. Let’s see how they fare against a team playing 100 percent and not overachieving. The one thing the Jets do really, really well is the one thing the Chargers don’t do on defense — run (defend) the ball. As a result, Shonn Greene will again be the featured attraction. This time, we need to be ready with our pen and paper. Is he fumble prone? Can he be a factor in the passing game? If we make (no/yes) check marks there, then I don’t see why this Hawkeye won’t be a top five pick next season. Also, if Mark (refuse to call him Sanchise) Sanchez has a solid game, then we can be confident he will continue his development in the off-season to be a good starter next year. But remember, the game is being played in sunny, calm San Diego … not cold, windy New Jersey where Sanchez will be playing eight games next year.
San Diego must be seeing a clear path to the promised land with their nemesis New England knocked out. The Chargers feel they own Indianapolis and shouldn’t be scared of Baltimore, but are they overlooking the Jets? I doubt it. Unless Darrelle Revis can cover more than one guy, I’m not sure who will stop Antonio Gates or any combination of Redwood trees San Diego throws out there as receivers? My hunch is Malcolm Floyd has an Early Doucet (Hey, how ya’ll doing) game to get on our fantasy radar. At 6-5, 225 Floyd should be an attractive red zone target, and Philip Rivers likes to throw deep too. Also, keep an eye on Legedu Naanee. Not only is his name fun to say, he could be the WR who benefits the most from the “We’re not going to let Revis pick us off” approach. Of course, Darren Sproles coming out of the backfield on screens and dump-offs could be a real effective tool against the Jets frantic blitz. But we already knew that.
As for the game itself: San Diego 31, New York 13 … I believe the Chargers have been chomping at the bit and remember they even played well in Week 17 with nothing on the line. The Jets have done very well with their generous path into the playoffs and Wildcard match-up (did anybody outside of Cincy feel the Bengals were as good as they looked at the beginning of the season?). Too much credence is being put on the Jets’ running game and Darrelle Revis. There are several other factors that go into winning an NFL game (i.e. special teams and passing), which the Jets do poorly and the Chargers excel at.