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NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW
PETER KING
January 09, 2012
The field has never been more wide open, as nine—count 'em, nine—teams have a realistic shot at winning the Lombardi Trophy. But in this most pass-happy of seasons, the teams with elite (and determined) quarterbacks who have experience playing in (and winning) Super Bowls will be the ones to beat
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January 09, 2012

Nfl Playoff Preview

The field has never been more wide open, as nine—count 'em, nine—teams have a realistic shot at winning the Lombardi Trophy. But in this most pass-happy of seasons, the teams with elite (and determined) quarterbacks who have experience playing in (and winning) Super Bowls will be the ones to beat

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It's not so much what I don't like about New England (that porous secondary) or Pittsburgh (just 16 points in the two games Roethlisberger played since his ankle injury) or Baltimore or San Francisco (questionable passing attacks). It's what I like about Green Bay and New Orleans. Well-protected quarterbacks playing great. Weapons all over the field. The ability to score 40. Good secondaries masking so-so front sevens.

Remember on the first night of the season, when the Saints visited Lambeau Field? It came down to the rarest of finishes: New Orleans getting an untimed down from the Green Bay one-yard line following an end zone pass-interference call, trailing by eight. Do or die—and how strange, in retrospect. The Saints, who'd go on to break the NFL record for yardage in a season, needed only a yard against a godawful run defense. Rookie running back Mark Ingram tried to smash in over right guard. A wall of Packers defenders met him. No gain. Ball game. Green Bay 42, New Orleans 34.

Lambeau again on Jan. 22. Do or die again. This time the New Orleans running game will limit Rodgers to just eight or nine possessions. The Saints eke out the win and go on to play a home-sweet-dome Super Bowl in Indianapolis against the Patriots.

Brees and Brady, walk-in Hall of Famers, in a ratings feast. Who can pick one quarterback over the other in that matchup? Give me Saints scatback Darren Sproles to make a couple of big plays in space. Give me cornerback Jabari Greer and the New Orleans secondary over New England's. Give me the Saints, 34—24.

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