One of the more intriguing storylines this week has to be the fact that each team is led into this game by former teammates at running back.
They won't ever be on the field at the same time, but I'm sure NBC will do some kind of feature or soundbite on it - Cedric Benson of the Bengals versus the man he essentially forced out of Chicago, Jets running back Thomas Jones.
All of the talk leading up to the Week 17 matchup was the Mark Sanchez-Carson Palmer connection...Sanchez played in California idolizing Palmer, and then followed in his footsteps at USC. I'm sure that'll be talked about to a playoff audience this week as well.
But those two guys like each other...Jones and Benson, well, they keep their distance. (And in fairness, Benson didn't play Sunday night, so there wasn't a story there.)
It's hard to say they don't like each other, because Jones has taken the high road whenever he's talked about Benson...but reading between the lines they don't like each other.
In this game, pride and more is on the line between those two.
And Thomas Jones would seem more suited to the task. He has played in four post-season games, to three for Benson...all with the Bears, all starting ahead of Benson. In his first playoff game, an upset loss to Carolina, Jones rushed 20 times for 80 yards.
When the Bears went to the Super Bowl, Jones was 21 rushes for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns against Seattle, 19 for 123 and 2 TDs against New Orleans in the NFC Championship game, and then 15 for 112 in the Super Bowl. Benson only played in the Super Bowl year, going for 12 for 45, 24 for 60 and a TD, and in the Super Bowl had 2 rushes for -1 yard and a fumble.
Benson has turned himself around from his immature Chicago days, we read in many places, so he has a lot to prove on Saturday to a lot of people.
I'll just say this...as down as I usually am on Jones, Saturday is one of the instances where I prefer him to the other team's guy.
*While we're on the subject of Jones, and since I bashed him again yesterday, I'll bring this up - I uncovered this from the end of the 2007 season - I've felt the same way about Thomas Jones for 3 years! (Not to brag or anything, but three separate readers commented that the link was the best blog they ever read. I, too, quite enjoyed re-reading it.)