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Boom or Bust: Battered Pats will still beat Ravens
It's the postseason.
As Jim Fassel once said, "Anyone who wants in, get in."
Let's play boom or bust, SCHEIN 9 style...
1. The Ravens are the best bet for an upset special this weekend.
The last time the Ravens faced the Patriots in New England, I picked Baltimore to win the game. And if Mark Clayton had even decent hands and caught a "4th and the game" pass from Joe Flacco, we might be talking about the Ravens already scoring a win in New England.
And Patriots' star receiver Wes Welker tore his ACL and he will miss the contest.
Plus, Baltimore is back to its roots, running the ball first, using Joe Flacco on demand. Ray Rice had an outstanding season. Willis McGahee dusted off the moth balls and dominated the Raiders last week. The Baltimore offensive line is nasty. The Patriots defense is hardly the same and can be pushed around.
With all that said, this is a huge bust.
Look, I am not going to be utterly stunned if Baltimore wins for all of the aforementioned reasons.
But New England doesn't lose at home. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick own January, and Brady played great down the stretch. Belichick is using the turf in Houston and Charlie Casserly as verbal targets to fire up his team. Did you hear the audio of Belichick destroying Casserly on the radio? It was hysterical and absolutely classic.
Jerod Mayo is healthy and Brandon Meriweather is a playmaker.
And did I mention it's Brady and Belichick in January.
Hide the women, children and Charlie Casserly. Call it 26-23 New England.
2. Trust Kurt Warner more than Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.
I firmly believe Warner is a Hall of Famer. I have written several times that you must account for the battle-tested Cards when talking Super Bowl. But Warner really hasn't looked the part in the final month of the season. Charles Woodson is a play-making machine at cornerback, with a whopping nine picks this year. Warner's been a tad sloppy and look for Dom Capers to blitz the aging quarterback often. Plus, the Anquan Boldin injury could be a huge factor in this game.
Rodgers, meanwhile, has enjoyed a banner season, once again throwing for 4,000 yards. Sure, it's his first career playoff start, but don't you think that Rodgers, who had to deal with all the Brett Favre nonsense, knows a thing or two about dealing with adversity?
I'm calling this a bust.
3. The Week 17 game between Arizona and Green Bay matters Sunday.
Now this is a bust as well.
I think the two teams treated that game very differently. Matt Leinart is not Kurt Warner. I think Green Bay can win in Arizona (watch this weeks VIDEO STYLE picks here on FOXSports.com for the actual winner) but you can't take anything away from what happened last week.
4. The Week 17 game between Cincy and the Jets matters Saturday.
Now this is a big-time boom.
While I didn't see this listed on the injury report, I think Chad Ochocinco suffered a bruised ego and the "Revis flu" in the same game. Cincy was punched in the face in every possible way. I think the beatdown was too severe for the Bengals to bounce back six short days later. I think the Jets’ physical strength is in the Bengals' head.
5. Mark Sanchez will throw more picks than Carson Palmer.
On my Sirius NFL Radio show, I get accused of having a Carson Palmer bias. My brother Evan sends me irate text messages every time he hears or sees me give Palmer love, saying he is going to change his last name if I keep singing the QB’s praises. I still think of the guy as the human jugs machine at the position.
And Sanchez threw 20 picks in his rookie year and will be making his first playoff start of the road.
This, however, is a bust.
Surprised? Don't be. Sanchez hasn't thrown a pick in the last two weeks. The main reason why? Because Rex Ryan won't let him. Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer are smart enough to know that Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph are an elite and very underrated cornerback combination.
Palmer, on the other hand, has the weakest wide receiver corps he has ever played with, including the overrated Ochocinco, who dropped three easy passes Sunday night against the Jets. And Palmer has to deal with Ryan's nasty defense and star cornerback Darrelle Revis.
6. Philly will run more this week against Dallas.
Have you been watching Andy Reid through the years? This is an absolute bust.
As John Madden told us on Sirius NFL Radio this week, "You are kidding yourself if you think a coach as successful as Andy Reid is going to change his ways. And he shouldn't".
Brian Westbrook is still getting his flow back.
And let's be honest -- it's all about Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek and company. I don't think the Philly passing attack will lay another egg, even against a Dallas defense that is suddenly dominant on every level.
7. The Cowboys will choke in the playoffs.
I don't see it. I think Dallas gained a ton of confidence with the win in New Orleans, followed up by clinching a spot in the tournament against Washington, followed up by the even more impressive pounding of Philly to win the NFC East and actually get a home game in the playoffs.
I know how hot Philly was in the second half. Dallas is currently the hotter team.
8. Of the teams playing this weekend, the Eagles have the best chance to play in the Super Bowl.
What a difference a few weeks makes! It's a bust.
Now I am not ruling Philly out. But the injury at center comes at a bad time.
I think New England, Dallas and Green Bay are all very capable of winning their next three games.
9. Major coaching changes are coming for some teams playing this weekend.
This is a boom, though I don't think it is of the head coaching variety. And yes, that means I believe Wade Phillips is safe, no matter what happens.
A lot of insiders close to the situation in D.C. believe that profootballtalk.com's report stating Mike Zimmer could be Mike Shanahan's defensive coordinator is very much accurate. And it would be a coup for Shanahan and a huge blow to Cincy.
I think Brian Schottenheimer is going to be in the mix for something in Buffalo.
Don't rule out Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott following Philly general manager Tom Heckert if he gets a GM job elsewhere.
For a daily Boom or Bust on New York Sports, watch Schein and Chris Carlin weeknights at 6est on SNY (DIRECT-TV 639).
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