2002-01-12 / Sports

Ode To the A: NFL Wild Card Weekend

By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! The Jets have made it to the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Those tenants of Giants Stadium actually won a big game and it really counted. They won in Oakland, where the fans dress in Darth Vader outfits and curse out visiting teams with filthy and vulgar language that should hold a NC-17 movie rating. John Hall’s clutch 53-yard kick in the Jets 24-22 victory proved to all of us that the Jets are not a team to be counted out.

What were most fans and the media saying before they even got onto the Oakland Coliseum field last Sunday? They were predicting imminent doom and landlubbers beware going into the Bermuda Triangle of Raiderdom. Herman Edwards couldn’t coach a peewee team and the team resigned itself to going home and making vacation plans.

Of course the Jets didn’t play perfectly. Vinny Testaverde threw two interceptions that were just plain awful. The Jets defense was suspect again. But hold on, Wayne Chrebet pulled his Superman act to make key grabs. Rookie Lamont Jordan lived it up with a brilliant 50-yard touchdown. Along with John Hall, Tom Tupa should be co-MVP of the game with his game saving hold on the low snap to give Hall the game-winning try.

What will the Jets do again in Oakland on Saturday night? They got to get Curtis Martin a lot of touches to start the game. Vinny better make good decisions and the Jets must contain the Raider offensive attack. The Jets cannot let Jerry Rice and Tim Brown pull off their veteran magic. It is possible that the Jets can win and don’t put it past this team to get out of Oakland alive again.

It’s NFL playoff time and what a great part of the year this is. The best teams face off and there are a lot of interesting matchups in this wild-card weekend. Here are my predictions and all of them will not be correct. I’m not that TV psychic, "Cleo."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles: Tampa struggled into the playoffs but they have a fearsome defense and Keyshawn Johnson actually caught the damn ball this year. They do travel to Philly and the temps are less than 40 degrees, which means the sunny Bucs are dead since they don’t win in cold weather. Philly wins 24-14.

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers: Frisco is back in the playoffs and QB Jeff Garcia and WR Terrell Owens make a frightening combination on offense. Garcia may be good but Favre is still the better quarterback. This may be a shootout between two good offensive teams. At hollowed Lambeau Field, where Lombardi roamed, The Pack wins it. GB wins 34-24.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins: The Super Bowl champion Ravens barely made the playoffs but their defense seemed to get into high gear just like last year. QB Elvis Grbac is not good and I give the Ravens credit for not choking out their QB for his boneheaded plays. Still the Dolphins will not upset this team because though they have a decent defense, their offense is anemic. The Ravens always seem to pull off one or two turnovers that get them points. This will be a low scoring game and more likely, I will be zzzzzzz during the game. Baltimore 17-10.

I devote my life to this weekend because I can catch all the games and its football all day and night. And at least the Jets are a local flavor that’s added this year. I will forget that the Knicks are horrible; the Rangers are going through Broadway drama issues with their players and the never-ending debate of the Michael Strahan record-breaking sack on Brett Favre.

This is the only thing I want to say on Strahan’s controversial sack. Though Favre may have mysteriously fallen down, Strahan broke the record. It happened in a legal game and that’s it. For anyone to harp on an individual achievement and whether it is compromised or not might forget what the real bottom line is. Favre and the Packers are going to the playoffs. Strahan and the Giants are watching the playoffs on TV. It’s a team game and the better team will win. See you next week. Peace!


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