Stan Hey: 6-5 Against
Saturday 09 January 2010
British sport is losing its battle with the weather but in America nothing stops an NFL game. Older fans go misty-eyed recalling the "Ice Bowl" of 1967 when the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL Championship in minus 25C temperatures.
Mercifully, the Packers go to balmy Arizona while Dallas should be mild for the visit of Philadelphia. But Cincinnati, where the Bengals host the New York Jets, and Boston, where New England meet Baltimore, could be bone-chilling.
Freakishly, three of these wild-card games are repeats from last week, all emphatic wins, for Green Bay (33-7); Cowboys (24-0); and the Jets (37-0). But can any be reversed? In previous play-offs involving such re-matches the regular season winners lost five of nine.
Cincinnati rested running back Cedric Benson but he returns to batter at the NFL's best defence. Add the eccentric skills of wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and home advantage and the Bengals (5-6, Bet 365) can win.
Dallas (1-2 Stan James), without a play-off win since 1996, may feel jittery but have greater momentum than the Eagles. The Cardinals-Packers game looks a "points fest" – preference is for Arizona (10-11, Ladbrokes), who rested last week and boast ace receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
The Patriots, without receiver Wes Welker due to injury and with QB Tom Brady said to have damaged ribs, may yield to the Ravens (13-8 Skybet). £10 win each.
*Both Arsenal and Fulham won through to the FA Cup fourth round.
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