If the Jets don’t lose in the first game and ruin your taste for the rest of them – and make sure you see all our Jets playoff coverage, from our video game preview to the 10 key moments of the year to how Mark Sanchez could lose this – the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, for our money, make up the best weekend in sports. It’s a four-day extravaganza of not once leaving your couch.
The second best weekend is the divisional NFL playoff weekend, during which the eight best teams in football bash heads over 30 glorious hours. The third best weekend is this one.
Considering what the weather’s looking like, it’s an ideal time to chain yourself to your coffee table. (Make sure you cuff yourself in the seated, or “prone,” position.) Here’s a look at the other wild-card games.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Saturday, 8 p.m., NBC
A compelling case can be made — and has been made — that this could be the last season for Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia. If so (and even a Giants fan has to be a little wistful about that), this could be his last game. Because of their loss in this very building last week, the Eagles dropped from the No. 2 seed in the NFC to the No. 6, which is not ideal. As well as the Cowboys have been playing, though, it’s difficult to imagine the Eagles going out like that, with the Andy Reid/McNabb/Westbrook consortium dropping out the first weekend and being done with it. Besides, we enjoy that it’s been more than a decade since the Cowboys won a playoff game and hope it stays that way.
Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 27.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
We agree with Christmas Ape over at Kissing Suzy Kolber: This is the beginning of the end for the Patriots. This is how dynasties end; this is how empires crumble. They start the downward slope, still serviceable, still somewhat successful, just not at their prior level. Everyone expects them to be what they were before, and then, in one shocking moment, they fall off the cliff, and they’re never the same again. Wes Welker or no Wes Welker, the Patriots are one step away from their “FINISH him!” moment. We think it happens in this game. Ray Rice might run for 150 yards.
Pick: Ravens 28, Patriots 10.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Fox
We will actually be attending this game, because we are the only person you know who likes the Arizona Cardinals. Like the Bengals-Jets game, this is between two teams who just played, one of which wasn’t playing very hard at all. Like the Bengals, the Cardinals will look dramatically different. All signs are pointing to the Packers in this one: Anquan Boldin’s injury, Green Bay’s massive hot streak, the fact that the Cardinals still haven’t sold the game out (don’t worry: Packers fans will happily buy up the remaining tickets). But this is a better Cardinals team than last year’s, more balanced, with a better pass rush and secondary. If the Cardinals bust out to a lead early, they can feed the ball to Beanie Wells the rest of the day and grunt out the win. We are helplessly biased but still pretty sure we’re right.
Pick: Cardinals 27, Packers 17.