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Taking a closer look at the wild card round: NFC

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Now it’s time to look at the better conference this round. No offense to the AFC but there’s a reason both of the NFC games were scheduled at the second game, they’re the match ups that are going to attract more viewers because they both hold potential to be classic games. Quick tangent: do fans realize that there’s a chance that the Packers and Seahawks can meet in the conference championship game? That’s pretty crazy considering what happened earlier in the season between those two teams. I’m getting a little ahead of myself but I just wanted to point that out. Let’s take a look at this side of the tournament.

Key match ups: In the Packers-Vikings game, the key to each team is pretty simple: how much can you stop the other team’s best player? Adrian Peterson is clearly the best RB in the league and Aaron Rodgers is arguably (definitely on Brady/Manning level) the best QB in the league so the defenses for each team will have their work cut out for them. This was the last game of the regular season and the Vikings won the game but this time it will be at Lambeau. It’ll be cold so who does that benefit more? Peterson breaking the record of rushing yards in a single playoff game (248) is definitely in play.

The final game this weekend will feature two rookie QBs that have been incredible for their own teams throughout the season. Redskins-Seahawks in the nation’s capital will surely have fireworks and i’m very excited for this game. These teams play a very similar style on offense. Both have an excellent running game, they take care of the football AND both RG3 and Russell Wilson are dual threat style QBs. How much will RG3’s injury hold him back? It was evident against my Cowboys that he’s not 100% but still remained somewhat effect on the ground. Can Seattle play at elite level when they’re on the road? They’re weren’t good outside of Seattle for most of the season but they did have a signature road win against the Bears in early December.

Prediction: This is a quarterback driven league and as much damage as Peterson can do, I don’t think it will be enough to overcome how good the Packers are at home. The Packers are going to throw everything at Peterson and dare Christian Ponder to carry more of the Vikings’ offense throughout the game. Would you bet on Ponder? I’m putting my money on Rodgers. Now the other game was harder for me to pick. Essentially the Redskins and Seahawks are the same team on offense with the exception of RG3 not being 100% healthy. The biggest difference is that Seattle has been playing MUCH better on defense than the Redskins have and I think that will be the determining factor in this game. I’m taking the Seahawks on the road but I think it will be a very close game filled with excitement.

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Wild finishes and OT games highlight week 3 of the NFL season

This Sunday the NFL featured 8 games that were decided by a TD or less (3 going into OT) and I believe it’s the first time that’s happened since the 2010 but that wasn’t the surprising part. It wasn’t that they got to overtime but more about the manner in which the games arrived to that point. Week 3 was filled with amazing plays and some key upsets but it’s hard to ignore that replacement officials after three weeks of action continue to affect games in a negative fashion, getting worse as the season ages. First we’ll stick to the positives because anyone trying to keep up with all the early games would’ve had their brain explode. The games that stick out the most are the three overtime games but i’ll focus on the encounter in New Orleans, where the KC Chiefs took the win in OT 27-24. Performance of the week goes to Jamal Charles (33 car, 233 yds, 1TD) that was highlighted by a very nice 91 yard touchdown run. Anyone start him on their fantasy team? I think it’s safe to say now that coaching does matter, the ultimate example being the Saints who are only a couple years removed from their Super Bowl victory and are now at 0-3, one of the worst teams in the league. Even more shocking: teams that have beaten the Saints have that win as their only win of the season.

There some key upsets yesterday (Cardinals over Eagles, Raiders over Steelers) but the one that was easily the most surprising was the Vikings taking the victory at home over the 49ers, the team that most saw as the class of the NFL. Led by QB Christian Ponder (21-35, 198 yds, 2 TD, 1 rush TD) the Vikings shocked the Niners, beating them in every part of the game to take the victory 24-13. Ponder looked like a season veteran out there, never being phased by the swarming 49ers defense that caused much better QBs to commit turnovers. Ponder did not commit any turnovers and with the help of a strong finish by the Vikings defense (forcing 3 turnovers in the 4th) they were on their way to their second victory of the season. Who would’ve thought the Vikings would be sitting at 2-1, sharing the lead of the NFC North? Have I mentioned my Cowboys yet? Well, i’m not too enthusiastic about their performance yesterday. It was a sloppy win filled with offensive struggles and penalties but in the end, a win is a win so i’ll definitely take it.

What else to say about these replacement officials? Anyone that watched last night’s game between the Ravens and Patriots (would’ve been a classic) knows that it’s way past terrible. Once again Roger Goodell, get something done before the season is ruined.

Tonight’s game: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (8:30 ET on ESPN)

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