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2009 NFL Divisional Round Playoffs: a quest for the best

The NFL playoffs are not only about playing hot football; they’re about playing the best football at the right time of the season. The playoffs are a time when Hall of Fame players make a name for themselves. It’s the time when the John Elways, Joe Montanas and Troy Aikmans come alive. It’s when the quarterbacks have to be ON — meaning ready to go — playing the best 60 minutes of their lives. The way I see it in AFC and NFC playoff football this week, the teams whose quarterback plays the best will win the games this weekend.

Here are the NFL playoffs games this weekend and how I see them going down:

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

I love the inspiration of Ray Lewis. I love the passion he brings to the game. I love the Baltimore Ravens defense. But your season is going to end this weekend. Congrats on getting this far! You played the Pats last week, and Tom Brady played the worst game of his life. Hats off to you guys, especially the way Ray Rice was running the football. Never have I seen a quarterback go 4-for-10 for 34 yards in the playoffs and win.

Joe Flacco, you have to step up your game. Your team is going to need you. The Indianapolis Colts will be hot, on fire and playing the best game of their lives. Peyton Manning is the best in times like this. And on top of this, Indianapolis has one of the best defensive coordinators in Larry Coyer. Get ready, Baltimore, because you’re going to have to put it up in the air on some big-time plays to your receivers in order to win.

My prediction: Indianapolis wins by two touchdowns.

San Diego Chargers vs. New York Jets

New York, just because you beat the Cincinnati Bengals doesn’t mean you can get too cocky when playing the best team in the NFL with the on-fire ability of quarterback Phillip Rivers. Darrelle Revis is going to cover Vincent Jackson, so watch for Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates to have a hay day. Coach Norv Turner knows how to protect the passers as well as anybody. San Diego will eat your blitzes alive, and they will be making big plays down the field.

My prediction: San Diego by one touchdown.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings

Brett Favre, I have drunk your Kool-Aid all year long. I love what you have done and I love your career. But watch out because Demarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff are going to be coming at you in a relentless fury. Tony Romo is playing great football because he’s not making mistakes, he’s not turning over the football and he is utilizing his weapons. Dallas has a great running attack with Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and Marion Barber — and that’s only the running backs. How about the receiving corps with Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton and Roy Williams?

I’m sorry, Minnesota, but Dallas has way too many weapons on offense for you to stop. Adrian Peterson, get ready because you are going to get pounded every time you get a hand on that football. This one is in the hands of Brett Favre. It’s going to be a hard-hitting game of smash-mouth football for all 60 minutes. It’s probably the best game of the weekend.

My prediction: Dallas wins with a field goal.

Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints

Kurt Warner played one of the best games I have seen a quarterback play in a long time when he beat the Packers last week, 51-45. Yes, it was an outstanding team effort. Yet neither team was able to stop the opposing offense. The two turnovers by the Green Bay Packers early in the game ended up being the deciding factor in Arizona’s win. Warner, you were incredible, and I saw that your goal was to put points on the board every time you touched that football.

New Orleans, try and stop the Cardinals. Good luck, Drew Brees! You’ve had a great season, but at the end of the year, when you have to be playing the best football, you just aren’t.

My prediction: Arizona by 10 points.

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