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January 8, 2010 7:55 AM

Jets talk, but Bengals walk on wild side

images.jpgWith apologies to all those passive-aggressive family gatherings and office parties...the hangovers, the heartburn, the credit-card bills and the ho-ho-hos...the blasted reindeer song you can never get out of your head...and the four pounds that won't come off despite that halfhearted resolution.
With apologies to all that good stuff...the following four weeks are the most wonderful time of the year.

The National Football League playoffs start tomorrow. Ho-ho-ho...

In honor of the most wonderful time of the year, we've rearranged things a little around the Grill Room on this Football Friday. No worries, the service will still be second to none, even if the information we give you isn't. And just to show you that we are hardly the only establishment serving up rotten info out there, we'll still direct you to all those nitwits disguised as experts, who claim to have a grasp on what will happen this weekend.
Count on them being every bit as wrong as we are, but having only half the fun doing it. 

Finally, because it is Wild-Card Weekend, we will treat you to the single keys -- or wild cards -- to each team's success, followed by our predictions.
So, is your appetite properly whetted? OK, forget we asked...
Bon Appetit!

First, let's get the 'experts' picks out of the way...

ESPN
CBS Sports
CNN/SI
NBC
SportingNews
AP

Now, onto the good stuff..

SATURDAY'S TILTS:

N.Y. Jets at Cincinnati (-2.5)
The Jets' key to success: It is impossible to offer any advice to this bunch of big-mouths. After lucking into the playoffs, Buddy boy's already fixated on the Super Bowl like it was some six-foot sub. Does this dude ever close his mouth? Anyway...
If rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is forced to throw the ball more than 15 times, the Jets lose. Sanchez is good for one interception every 10 throws, so the Jets must run the ball like their coach runs his mouth to win.
The Bengals' key to success: With Buddy boy's mouth all over everything, even Chad Ochocinco can't get a word in, so motivation will not be a factor for these cats. It's simple for the Bengals: Score two TDs. Even when this team was rolling earlier in the year, it showed a propensity to settle for too many FGs.
Prediction: The Bengals force Sanchez into mistakes, and Carson Palmer makes just enough plays down the field. Buddy's family will remain starved for a playoff win.
Bengals 24, Jets 10.    

Philadelphia at Dallas (-3.5)
The Eagles' key to success: A fast start. The Cowboys have flat owned them this year. Get off to a lead and put doubt in the mind of an opponent that hasn't won a playoff game since about the time Bill Clinton was charting Tiger Woods' inevitable bimbo-paved path to humiliation.
The Cowboys' key to success: Keep a spy on Donovan McNabb. For all his prowess with his arm, McNabb's greatest asset has always been his legs. If McNabb is able to convert anything more than two first downs scrambling, Dallas will be in trouble. Keep the dude in the pocket, and he will make just enough bad throws to see you through.
Prediction: There's a time for everything, and a Cowboy team that matches up perfectly with Philly finally wins a playoff game. Sorry, America.
Cowboys 31, Eagles 27.

SUNDAY'S TILTS:
 

Baltimore at New England (-3.5)
The Ravens' key to success: Quit playing like a bunch of stupid idiots. Play to the whistle, not 15 seconds through it. If this team stays under 50 yards of penalties it wins.
The Patriots' key to success: Get the WR with the punk-rock-sounding name, Julian Edelman, going early. With WR Wes Welker gone, the Ravens will triple team Randy Moss if necessary to take him out of the game. Baltimore must pay for this. If Edleman goes to the tune of about 100 yards, the Patriots win.
Prediction: This is a great spot for the Ravens with Welker out of the way, but their propensity to play like goons will cost them late.
Patriots 19, Ravens 18.     

Green Bay at Arizona (2.5) 
The Packers' key to success: Put Kurt Warner on his back -- a lot. If Warner gets time to stand in the pocket, he is capable of carving up the excellent Packers' secondary like a Christmas ham. Hit him early and often, and you can turn him into a tasty entree of Chuck-and-Duck. If Green Bay can get double-digit hits on Warner, it wins.
The Cardinals' key to success: Make Green Bay honor the run, or it will kill your QB. If Arizona goes for more than 100 yards on the ground, it wins.
Prediction: This one makes us nervous because Green Bay is looking a lot like the hot team in the playoffs right now. We'll believe what we've seen lately, though, and say they whip a Cards' team that has been too erratic this year.
Packers 30, Cardinals 21

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