Fans attending and watching next weekend’s Divisional Round playoff game at Mall of America Field between the Vikings and Cowboys will see a quintet of talented RBs going to work.
That’s assuming injury concerns don’t get in the way.
Injuries shouldn’t be an issue for the Vikings, as both Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor were able to take several days off during the team’s bye week.
But the Cowboys, coming off back-to-back games against division rival Philadelphia, have a couple of issues they’ll be monitoring this week.
Dallas has a trio of effective RBs at their disposal – Marion Barber III is the team’s workhorse but both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice have been productive and effective for the Cowboys this season. Barber is dealing with a knee injury that forced him to miss the final 3 quarters of last week’s Wild Card win over the Eagles and Choice was knocked out of the game as well when he took a big hit from an Eagles defender in the 4th quarter.
According to this blog entry from ESPN.com’s Matt Mosley, however, it sounds as if both Barber and Choice will play on Sunday.
We’ll know more about the health of all the RBs mentioned above on Wednesday, when both the Vikings and Cowboys are required to submit the week’s first injury report.
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We often hear from coaches, players and commentators about the importance of establishing the run and stopping the run in football games. The running game, whether from an offensive perspective or a defensive perspective, is about imposing your will over the opponent’s will.
The running game is an important factor in every game, no one should deny that.
But let’s also not forget that the NFL is a passing league and there aren’t many winning teams without winning QBs. Just look at the teams remaining and who is under center for them – Colts (Manning), Chargers (Rivers), Saints (Brees), Vikings (Favre), Cowboys (Romo) and Cardinals (Warner). Sure, there are a couple of greener QBs – Mark Sanchez of the Jets and Joe Flacco of the Ravens – but by and large, experienced and productive QBs dominate the playoff landscape.
As further proof that QBs hold the key to winning and losing, consider these stats from this past weekend of playoff action in the NFL…
Winning QBs (Sanchez, Romo, Flacco, Warner): 96 pass attempts, 3.0 sacks, 1 INT
Losing QBs (Palmer, McNabb, Brady, Rodgers): 172 pass attempts, 15.0 sacks, 6 INTs
There’s an old adage that says figures lie and liars figure. And there’s also the sentiment that one can make statistics say whatever they want. So there’s probably plenty of room for interpretation with the stats listed above.
The point is not that fewer pass attempts equal more wins. And it’s not a shock to NFL coaches that once a team attempts too many passes, their chances of winning decrease. But the stat above does illustrate the importance of solid play at the QB position. QBs touch the ball on every play and the offense’s ability to protect those QBs along with the QBs’ decision-making skills are paramount to the difference between winning and losing.
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In ironic fashion, the Arizona Cardinals have closed out Wild Card weekend with a victory over the Green Bay Packers to set next weekend’s NFC Divisional Round matchups.
For 4 quarters and a a few plays of overtime the game was an offensive clinic and a defensive embarrassment. Cardinals QB Kurt Warner and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers combined for 801 passing yards and 9 TD passes, while both offenses combined for 1,024 yards and 90 points.
The ironic part comes in because this offensive shootout at University of Phoenix Stadium was ended by a defensive play on the 3rd play of overtime. Rodgers was strip-sacked and Cardinals LB Karlos Dansby recovered the fumbled and returned it 17 yards for the game-winning TD. The final tally was 51-46, Arizona, in the highest-scoring postseason game in NFL history.
Adding to the irony is that the player who caused the fumble that ended the game – Cardinals DB Mike Adams – was torched all game long by Rodgers. But Adams got the last laugh, rushing the pocket from the middle of the field and getting to Rodgers to tally the sack and forced fumble before Rodgers could get out of the way.
It was by most accounts the most entertaining game of Wild Card Weekend and one that won’t soon be forgotten. The Packers, who were perhaps the NFL’s hottest team in the 2nd half of the season (7-1 in their last 8 games), are one-and-done in the playoffs and the Cardinals survive and advance to the Divisional Round for a matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
The Cardinals-Saints game will be played on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by FOX. The Vikings will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at noon CT and that game will also be televised by FOX.
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