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Dissecting Week Two of the NFL Playoffs

Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings  Tony Romo finally dismissed all of his critics after he won his first playoff game against the Cowboys’ division rival Philadelphia Eagles. But can Romo continue his recent success against his childhood idol Brett Favre?The Cowboys are actually the only team remaining in the playoffs that has no players on injury reserve. Wade Phillips’ squad has never played so well under his tenure and his defense has been hitting on all cylinders. The Vikings didn’t persuade Brett Favre to get off his tractor to simply guide the team to the playoffs. The front office believed that with their elite defense and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, Favre was the missing piece to their hopes of a Super Bowl title.But the question revolving around Favre is, which quarterback will show up on Saturday? The gunslinging, reckless quarterback that haunted the Packers in his recent playoff games and in his stint with the New York Jets, or the game manager that he has been in most of his Viking games? Even though the Cowboys are riding into this contest with an overwhelming amount of confidence and momentum, the Vikings’ dominant defensive line should be able to hold Romo in check as Favre directs his new team into the NFC Championship game. Pick: Minnesota Vikings Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints New Orleans will host a meeting this weekend that has the potential to break playoff offensive records. Arizona’s offense looked nearly unstoppable in its overtime victory against the Green Bay Packers. The 38-year-old rejuvenated quarterback Kurt Warner looks poised to possibly make another playoff run to the Super Bowl as his team is playing its best football at the end of the season, just like last year. The Saints averaged 31.9 points and more than 400 yards of total offense per game this season, led by their All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees. New Orleans’ offense is so lethal because of the its array of wide receivers and three solid running backs. Playing in the Superdome in front of the Saints’ faithful should be a vital factor in Sunday’s contest. The Cardinals might be coming off of a record offensive showing in Arizona last weekend, but the Saints will counter-balance with a rested and superior offense of their own. Pick: New Orleans Saints Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore RavensThe Indianapolis Colts could have finished the regular season undefeated, but coach Jim Caldwell wanted to rest his starters for the playoffs. Now after finishing the season at 14-2, the Colts feel that most critics have jumped off their bandwagon as Super Bowl favorites. Coming off of his NFL-record fourth MVP season, Peyton Manning will look to guide the Colts to their second championship in four years. Manning possesses an ample amount of offensive weapons, including his No. 1 receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark.      The Ravens ran the ball effectively in wild card weekend to decisively dismantle the New England Patriots at Foxboro. Their defense that tormented Tom Brady last Sunday will look to try to confuse the Colts’ signal-caller. Even though the Ravens held an early, overbearing lead against the Patriots last week, quarterback Joe Flacco looked completely flat on the field. Indianapolis is under a great amount of pressure to win this playoff game after the decision to rest its marquee players and halt their near record-breaking momentum. While rust tends to tie in with extensive rest, the Colts should able to overcome this detriment and capitalize on their experience to win in Indianapolis.  Pick: Indianapolis Colts New York Jets vs. San Diego ChargersThe Chargers are riding an 11-game winning streak and look to potentially have a strong run in the playoffs. Quarterback Phillip Rivers, known as one of the toughest and most competitive players in the NFL, has blossomed into one of the marquee quarterbacks in the league. San Diego’s roster is stockpiled with playoff veterans such as LaDainian Tomlinson, who might have his last opportunity to reach a Super Bowl with the Chargers this year. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez played a nearly perfect game at Cincinnati last weekend and hasn’t turned the ball over in his past three contests. Cornerback Darrelle Revis blanketed star wide receiver Chad Ochocinco at Cincinnati; so don’t expect Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson to do anything special this Sunday. The Jets have had an impressive roller coaster-ride of a season as they weathered the slumps of their rookie quarterback. But the Chargers simply have too much talent and veteran experience to slip in their first playoff contest. Pick: San Diego Chargers

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