Ten things that intrigue me about wild-card weekend
Drew Brees in the colts, Aaron Rodgers vs. the 49ers' secondary are among the things that intrigue me this weekend in the NFL.
Drew Brees and the Saints offense in the cold: The Saints have never won a playoff game on the road and they are a different offense at home. But the Eagles are last in the NFL in pass defense, which could give Drew Brees and his receivers a lot of chances down the field. Even in frigid temperatures.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in his first playoff start: Yes, Nick Foles has been really good since taking over as the starter. But this is his first playoff start? How does he handle it? Is he as calm as he's been this season? Pressure can get the best of young quarterbacks.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers vs. 49ers' secondary: The 49ers gave up almost 800 passing yards the past two games. That's dangerous getting ready to face Aaron Rodgers and his receivers. The 49ers will also be without corner Carlos Rogers. Look for Rodgers to attack nickel corner Eric Wright.
Packers run defense vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore: The Packers were 25th against the run this season. That's not good readying to face a pound-it offense like San Francisco. Gore had a big season and is one his way to the Pro Bowl. If the weather is really bad, look for the 49ers to pound Gore.
Chargers offensive tackles vs. Bengals defensive ends: In King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker, the Chargers have had some solid tackle play this season. They will need it this week against Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. They can get after it with their pass rush, even if Johnson's sack numbers aren't great.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in his third playoff game, but first at home: Andy Dalton is 0-2 in the playoffs, but this game is at home, his first in the postseason. He enters the playoffs with a lot of pressure on him since so many have questioned whether he's good enough. It's his time to show he is that -- and maybe more.
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles on the fast turf in Indianapolis: Jamaal Charles is a handful on any surface, but he will be even faster and quicker on the turf in Indianapolis. He can run it, but he's also great in the passing game.
Colts OLB Robert Mathis vs. Chiefs tackles: Robert Mathis is the key to the Colts defense. He had 19 sacks in the regular season. And the Chiefs tackles are hurting. Who plays? Who can handle him?
Eagles OLB Trent Cole vs. Saints LT Terron Armstead: Terron Armstead made his first NFL start two weeks ago and had a tough go of it. But he bounced back last week against Tampa and did a nice job. Cole is having a bounce-back season and will be a key to the Eagles' pass rush.
49ers DE Justin Smith and OLB Aldon Smith vs. David Bakhtiari: Bakhtiari made his NFL debut as a rookie against the two Smiths. Aldon Smith had 1 1/2 sacks that day, beating Bakhtiari for his solo sack when the rookie tried to cut him. I expect Bakhtiari, who has improved, to play much better.
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