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One other thing: After they beat the Jets to win the AFC East on Sunday, the Dolphins seemed very much like a "just happy to be here" team. After 1-15, who could blame them?
Atlanta (11-5) at Arizona (9-7)
(4:30 p.m. EST Saturday)
The Falcons belong in the playoffs, the Cardinals don't. They are there only by virtue of a weak division and possibly because the 49ers started the season with Mike Nolan as their coach and J.T. O'Sullivan as their quarterback instead of Mike Singletary and Shaun Hill. The latter combination went 5-4 and might have won the division if they'd been there all season.
Yes, it's a matchup of a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, against a two-time MVP, Kurt Warner. But when Warner and his Arizona teammates went on the road to places like Philadelphia and New England, they came back beaten by scores like 48-20 and 47-7. To put it another way, the Cardinals were 6-0 against their division, 3-7 against everyone else.
Sure they can win because they are home, where they were 6-2. And Ryan might get rookie playoff jitters. But the visitor is definitely the better team.
Philadelphia (9-6-1) at Minnesota (10-6)
(4:30 p.m. EST Sunday)
The Eagles are certainly the most enigmatic team in the playoffs. Their rout of Dallas came a week after a 10-3 loss in Washington in which they played terribly and seemingly knocked themselves out of the playoffs. They beat the Giants on the road (dominated them, actually), but tied the Bengals in the game in which McNabb acknowledged he didn't know there could be ties.
At their best, the Eagles are certainly better than the Vikings, who needed a last-play 50-yard field goal to beat the Giants' JV -- New York, already assured of the No. 1 seed, played much of the game with guys it had picked up off the street.
But that game could help Minnesota against the Eagles. Tarvaris Jackson was beleaguered by the Giants' blitzing schemes, which are very similar to the ones Philadelphia runs. Steve Spagnuolo, New York's defensive coordinator, came from Philly, where he worked for Jim Johnson, the Eagles' coordinator. And, of course, Vikings coach Brad Childress used to be the Eagles' offensive coordinator, so he knows a lot of things about Philly.
So this one will depend on whether the Eagles choose this week to throw in a clinker.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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