• NFL Divisional Championships: Hot Hands and Cold Shoulders

    by  • January 17, 2009 • Start or Sit • 1 Comment

    Once again, this weekend, we get a game that could very literally end with a final score of 3-0 and a game that could have a combined score of more than 70 points. Welcome the AFC and NFC championship games.

    When I logged into the site to get geared up for this weekend, I got an extra treat. You want to know what the top search term of late leading people to Fantasy Football Fools is?

    Booty. That’s right. I have a sneaking suspicion why that is, but it still doesn’t make it any less funny.

    So with booty said, let’s get down to booty, er, business.

    If you’re setting your salary cap playoff rosters this week, you’re probably locked in with them until the Super Bowl. There’s two ways to go here. You can either pick a collection of players from both teams that you expect to do well enough in this round and in the Super Bowl or you can suck it up and only pick players from the two teams you see making it all the way.

    I’ll admit, I have the fear in me about being bold and only choosing players from my Super Bowl pick teams, but I’m so going there.

    NFC Championship

    Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

    I don’t know what to think of the Arizona Cardinals. Many analysts predicted they would match the Falcons in the Wild Card round after their strong final game of the season, but I doubted them when they went into Carolina. I thought their possession of a running game was just an oversight by the Falcons defense and that the defensive plays made the Wild Card round were fluky.

    In Carolina, Arizona showed us that they have a defense that will make plays on the ball. Their secondary was outstanding. They complimented it with a little bit of a running game again, thanks to Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower, despite being able to get the ball into Larry Fitzgerald’s hands even if he was covered by a flock of Canadian geese — the kind that brings down planes.

    Despite their success, it’s hard not to keep betting on their demise…they are the Buzzsaw after all.

    Of course, there’s no overwhelming favorite on the other side of the field. The Eagles are practically the same team, only in the NFC East. The Eagles started off looking like one of the best in the division before they sank to the bottom of the barrel after a ferociously embarrassing tie with the Cincinnati Bengals when Donovan McNabb didn’t even know that ties were possible.

    Thanks to the failings of many a team standing in their way, the Eagles got hot at the right moment and went on a streak to get into the playoffs. Donovan McNabb has looked great, and Brian Westbrook has been required to do only light lifting. The formula has been working to perfection.

    On Thanksgiving, the Eagles began their winning streak against the Cardinals. Arizona was clobbered by the combined scoring power of Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb, but since that game, Brian Westbrook has virtually and literally disappeared from the field.

    If the Eagles are going to win this one, the offense is going to need a big game from Brian Westbrook. Otherwise, it’s very possible that McNabb gets Delhomme-d and leaves his team fighting on the wrong side of a turnover battle if Arizona’s suddenly-dominant secondary shows up again.

    I’m going with the Cardinals here. They’re at home with a newfound spirit in the playoffs. Maybe that’s crazy. Maybe I just don’t really want to see an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl, or maybe I hate part of myself. Maybe I just want an offensive team to get in the Super Bowl. Whatever the reason, I’m on the Buzzsaw bandwagon.

    At least we know their going to put up some fantasy points this week.

    Hot Hands: Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook (Q), David Akers

    Bubble Boys: Tim Hightower, Anquan Boldin (Q), Neil Rackers, Arizona D/ST, Eagles D/ST, Brent Celek

    Cold Shoulders: DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, L.J. Smith, Edgerrin James

    AFC Championship

    Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

    Personally, I am not a fan of this matchup.

    Watching these two teams slam into each other repeatedly for four hours with minimal points on the board just leaves me feeling unsatisfied — especially as a fantasy football fan. The team that makes the most mistakes is going to lose this one, and since I called it twice before, I have to continue my trend of calling on Joe Flacco’s rookie shortcomings to suddenly rise to the forefront.

    If the Steelers can successfully take Derrick Mason out of this game, Flacco will become pretty ineffective. Without Flacco, the Ravens have LeRon McClain, who is already a little banged up, and some guy we used to know the name of named Willis McGahee. Sure, they could put something together with that running back committee. They even have Ray Rice, too, but not against the Steelers defense.

    Ben Roethlisberger may be concussed, but maybe he plays better when he sees two or three of every receiver. His long ball and a healthy Willie Parker helped the Steelers run right over the Chargers last week, and it’ll help them put up enough of a fight against the Ravens.

    If you’re looking for a kicker, I like Jeff Reed in this game. I know that the Cardinals and the Eagles are playing in a more offensively friendly matchup, but Jeff Reed is probably going to be one of the only players scoring points this Sunday night. You might as well get a piece of the action.

    Hot Hands: Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Jeff Reed, Matt Stover, Steelers D/ST, Ravens D/ST

    Bubble Boys: Willie Parker, Hines Ward, LeRon McClain, Joe Flacco, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason

    Cold Shoulders: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Heath Miller, Mark Clayton

    Lineup Calls

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to go all-in with the Cardinals and Steelers on my roster this weekend. At least if Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner end up sitting out the Super Bowl, I will know that I tried and failed brilliantly.

    Sure, I could throw Brian Westbrook on my roster as a safety valve and capitalize if the Eagles were to make it into the Super Bowl, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, no matter what running back gets to the Super Bowl from the NFC, they’re not going to do much against the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    So this weekend, I’m a Buzzsaw-lovin’ Arizona Cardinals fan. Maybe they’ll make it to their first Super Bowl, and that’s a story that might even spare us the press on T.O. and Brett Favre for a few days.

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    Jacob started Fantasy Football Fools in 2007 as a outlet for all the fantasy football conversations he couldn't have in-person. Since then, well...it's only gotten worse.

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