NFL: Playoffs…Playoffs?

Finally, the playoffs. I won nothing in fantasy this year but have been doing pretty well with the big money, so let’s keep that trend going into the first round. A couple rematches are on the plate right away in Dallas/Philadelphia and Jets/Cincinnati – two Saturday games I’m thoroughly looking forward to.

First the NFC match-up. Suddenly smoking hot Dallas hosts the broken-down, afterthought Eagles. Did anybody outside of Philly even remember that these guys were good enough to make the playoffs this year? How much do you think we’ll see Mike Vick in this one?

Right away, I’m going to recommend betting the under. Dallas’ games have gone under eight of the last nine times. They might be winning, but it’s not by putting 45 points up on the board each week.

Anyway, contrary to what skeptical Dallas fans might want to believe, this one is going to live or die in Tony Romo’s hands. The guy put up a ton of yards this year, and a respectable 26TD’s. He’s totally in synch with Miles Austin, and finally found a way to get Witten the yards he needs the last few games of the year, as well. But most importantly, Dallas has been finishing. They’ve always been able to get to the red zone, but now they’re making those possessions count, while minimizing the penalties that an inexperienced playoff team is prone to.

Philly got creamed by Dallas 24-0, and they currently have no running game to speak of. McCoy is a backup and Westbrook is one more concussion away from being a hockey player. And Vick doesn’t count. McNabb is a superstar and a pro, and I’d want him on my team, too, even leading it, but he can only do so much when the secondary isn’t concerned with half your offensive attack. Let’s see if Maclin has a few tricks up his sleeve to counter the pressure he’s expected to receive. In any event, I think it’s a safe bet to jump on the bandwagon on this one and take Dallas to cover.

Out in the AFC, the defensively-charged Jets visit the surprising but yet-to-make-a-believer-out-of-me Bengals. However, if Cincinnati can overcome the Jets’ tough, tough defense, I’ll believe they have a shot to upset one of the big boys (Chargers or Colts). We know Cincy has the passing power in Palmer, but this will also shine a light on the sturdiness and clutch potential from Cedric Benson. Let’s see if he’s really the steal he showed flashes of during the year.

And it’ll be Cincinnati’s defense pressuring the rookie QB Sanchez that’ll be another key matchup. How will the guy respond to the pressure of the postseason? It won’t be counted in TDs and picks as much as the small decisions make in-between those plays.

I’m going with the Jets to win. Not because of last week’s score, but because of how strong their defense has been over the last month or more. The Bengals are a 2.5-point favorite, which I’d say is small enough to feel safe betting on the Jets to upset if you’re taking them to win anyway.

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