The Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers played a magical playoff game Sunday afternoon at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Red Birds 51-45 overtime victory over the Cheeseheads did not fit the mold with the rest of a rather non-descript Wild Card Weekend.
Trend Break #1 – In the Wild Card games the Arizona Cardinals were the only team that won not going into the playoffs on a hot streak. The Cards lost two out of their last four games and in the two victories they played poorly against the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions. This Arizona team has an ability to switch it on like I have never seen before. Whenever they have a big game they find a way to step up to the plate.
The other three Wild Card winners all were cruising into the playoffs; Dallas Cowboys won three in a row, Baltimore Ravens won three of their last four, and the New York Jets won five out of their last six.
Trend Break #2 – The Arizona Cardinals were the only team that didn’t go all out in the final week of the regular season and won. The beginning of the Cards-Pack was the opposite of what I expected. Conventional wisdom told me Arizona would start slow and the Packers would be clicking on all cylinders. Kurt Warner and the rest of the Cardinals offense looked like they had been running smoothly the final month of the regular season, which was not the case. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense looked like they rested for the second half of the regular season finale.
The Cincinnati Bengals rested their starters and did not show their full playbook in their Week 17 game against the New York Jets. It didn’t help them in their playoff game as the Jets took it to them at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Philadelphia Eagles dropped their Week 17 match up to the Dallas Cowboys. In that game the Eagles didn’t blitz in the first half, Michael Vick didn’t run an offensive play, and the feel of the game was that Andy Reid conceded before it even started. The Cowboys ran the Eagles through a wall for a second straight week.
The New England Patriots in their Week 17 game with the Houston Texans played back up quarterback Brian Hoyer for a significant amount of time, rested five starters, and blew a huge second half lead. The Pats weren’t able to turn it back on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens as they got embarrassed on their home field.
Trend Break #3 – The Arizona Cardinals were the only team that lost the “run it back game” (Jon Bloom special right there) and won the rematch. The New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys both swept their two game mini-series with the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles.