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NFL Week 19 2010: Divisional Weekend

By: Nick Popyack

[Have a comment? Click the title of this article and go crazy!]

       The playoffs are underway, but you might not have known that if you weren’t a football fan; with all the lopsided victories this past weekend, you might have thought it was the last week of the season, and half the teams pulled their starters. At least the Packers-Cardinals shootout was exciting, but even that came with a few controversial calls, as did the others games. A few pass interference calls against the Eagles here, a no-call on a facemask against the Cardinals there… But the majority of the teams last week proved they were legitimately better than the other teams. However, will they advance this week? Here’s week 19.

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints
[Saturday 4:30]

       The Cardinals were part of one of the most exciting wild card games in NFL history last week against the Packers. Their offense was on full display, and that was without the help of their Pro Bowl receiver, Anquan Boldin. However, their defense failed to stop the Packers for the majority of the game, though they got three touchdowns courtesy of their defense [Two set up by an interception and fumble recovery, and the obvious fumble return touchdown to win the game].
       The Saints played like garbage for their final three games, only averaging 14.7 points per game, most of them with their starters playing. However, I have the feeling that Sean Payton will be bringing out all the stops against a team that gave up 493 yards [most of them through the air] and 45 points. Both teams are stacked on offense, but the difference maker late in many games has been New Orleans’ Darren Sharper, who has picked off nine passes this year and returned three for touchdowns. The defense for the Cardinals didn’t stop the Packers from scoring six touchdowns last week, but you can bet the Saints will with a week of rest.
New Orleans Saints

Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts
[Saturday 8:15]

       The Ravens beat up on the Patriots last week and embarrassed the comeback player of the year, Tom Brady, by intercepting him three times and limiting his offense to 14 points. They finished the game by successfully running the ball 52 times for 234 yards. If there’s one thing the Colts are going to focus on, it’s stopping the run.
       Joe Flacco only passed the ball ten times, and only completed four of those passes. However, you can bet that he’ll need to complete more of those to compete with Peyton Manning. The four time MVP was in the midst of an undefeated season when his coach decided to bench his starters. The only reason the Colts didn’t go undefeated, though I think the decision to pull the starters was a good idea, is because Peyton Manning wasn’t playing the whole game. Manning has owned the Ravens in the past, and there’s nothing that indicates he won’t do the same in this game.
Indianapolis Colts

Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings
[Sunday 1:00]

       The Cowboys defense has been suffocating as of late, only allowing 31 points in their last four games, two of them being shutouts. Their secondary, the weak point of their defense last year, has stepped it up considerably. The biggest change, however, is Dallas’s decision to run more with Felix Jones and less with Marion Barber. However, the Vikings were second in the league in stopping the run. With the Dallas defense also stuffing runners, it’ll come down to the passing game.
       Neither team’s quarterback threw for a lot of interceptions this year; there are only 16 interceptions between Tony Romo and Brett Favre, and 62 touchdowns this year. The Dallas defense has given up less touchdowns this year, but they didn’t face Favre in the regular season. Favre has thrown for 15 touchdowns in seven games against a 3-4 defense, and only four interceptions. He’s playing the best football of his career, and Dallas won’t be able to slow him down.
Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets @ San Diego Chargers
[Sunday 4:40]

       New York’s Darrelle Revis shut down Chad Ochocinco for the majority of the game against the Bengals. He is no doubt the best defender on the Jets’ sideline, and plays lights-out defense against whomever he covers. However, Ochocinco was the definite number one target for the Bengals. For the Chargers, there are more targets to cover. Both Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates logged over 1,100 yards receiving this year. I’m predicting that whichever isn’t being covered by Revis will get the ball, just like the entire regular season.
       The Chargers like to pass the ball, and the Jets like to run the ball. The Jets ran the ball more times than anyone this year, and ran 41 times against the Bengals last week. However, with the quick strike and high octane offense of the Chargers, I think the Jets are going to feel the need to pass the ball. However, in the six games this year that Mark Sanchez passed fewer than 20 times [Including last week’s victory], the Jets are 6-0. The rest of the games… Well, the Jets have won a total of 10 games this year. Yeah.
San Diego Chargers

New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts
Minnesota Vikings
San Diego Chargers

Last week’s winner: Kavik [3]

2009 Regular Season totals:

Nick: 164
Kavik: 163
Pat: 151 [15 weeks]

2009 Postseason totals:
Kavik: 3
Nick: 1
Pat: 0

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