Now the NFL playoffs can really begin. The first divisional round game features the Arizona Cardinals at the New Orleans Saints. Had we discussed this matchup 2 months ago we would have crowned the Saints the winner without hesitation. Fast forward to today and we have ourselves a ballgame folks. The Cardinals are coming off an impressive offensive performance against a stout Green Bay Packers defense and the defense is playing…….well, like the Cardinal defense. Opportunistic, but unpredictable. Which defense will show up? The one that gets after the quarterback with the defensive line allowing the corners to jump routes? Or the lazy defense that can’t get pressure and gets picked apart in the secondary? That is the deciding factor in this game. We all know what the New Orleans Saints offense is capable of doing. But, if you can get to Drew Brees and make him uncomfortable in the pocket he can force throws. (See Dallas Cowboys week 15) The New Orleans defense on the other hand has been riddled with injury. Looks like both starting corners are probable for the game, but how rusty will they be?
Spread: -7 moving to -6.5 New Orleans
I think that is a pretty big spread for an NFL playoff game. If I were a betting man…….I take the Cardinals
Outlook: I think the Arizona Cardinals will come out with fire in their step. They want to jump on the Saints quickly in order to plant the seed of doubt and take the crowd out of the ballgame. I think they pass to set up the run for the second half. However, the Saints have the desire to prove their critics wrong. The have the hard nosed coaching that will keep them focused. If the Saints get out early on the Cardinals this game WILL be over. So it’s imperative the Cardinals stay in this game.
Prediction: The Cardinals get out early, but the Saints get it together and nip the Cardinals in the 4th.
Final score: Cardinals 31 Saints 34
One side note…..when critics and fans predict a shootout, the defenses usually step up. The score could be lower, but the Saints will march on.