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NFL Playoff Preview: Saturday games

New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
4:30 pm ET
TV—NBC

Last Sunday night, the Jets closed out the actual regular season history of “old” Giants Stadium the way the Giants wanted to the week before, turning a win-and-in situation into a rout against the Bengals, 37-0. The Jets and their # 1 pass defense held the Bengals to zero passing yards for the game. That’s right, ZERO passing yards. That’s not likely to happen again today, when the Jets visit the Bengals for a rematch that will determine who goes home and who moves on to the divisional round of the playoffs. Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis held RB Cedric Benson out of the Week 17 game, and only let QB Carson Palmer play a few series before letting some bearded guy named J.T. O’Sullivan take over. Lewis didn’t want to show too much, but what he may have shown in the process was that his team is fading fast and may have won games early in the season with smoke and mirrors. The Bengals’ defense is also solid, ranked #7 against the rush and #6 against the pass, but if they allow Thomas Jones and the Jets’ running game to control the clock again, this could very well be another dominant performance by the Jets. And don’t forget the way Jets’ all-world CB Darrelle Revis shut down WR Chad Ochocinco on the field and then on Twitter. The hotter Jets should prevail again, but either way, this is a game featuring two of the NFL’s best defenses, so it’s likely to be ultimately determined by who makes the least mistakes.
THE PICK: JETS 17, BENGALS 13

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
8:00 pm ET
TV—NBC

For as surprising as the Jets’ thrashing of the Bengals was last weekend, the fact that the Cowboys shut out the Eagles may have been the biggest surprise of Week 17. Sure, the Cowboys have been on a roll since handing the Saints their first loss of the season a few weeks back, and haven’t given up a point since then. But the Eagles had won six in a row and were (insert cheesy line here like “flying high” or “soaring”). Despite having Brian Westbrook back, the Eagles have fallen to 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense and have been living by the big pass play most of the season, with second year WR DeSean Jackson changing games by himself on offense and special teams. The Cowboys, however, have beaten the Eagles twice this season, and their only losses came to the Giants twice (in games that could have gone either way), Denver, Green Bay and San Diego. They can run the ball (7th overall), pass with Tony Romo, Miles Austin and Jason Witten (6th overall) and they can stop the run (4th overall). The only blemish for the Cowboys is they are prone to big pass plays, but they seem to have remedied that recently, and with DeMarcus Ware coming off the edge, Donovan McNabb has to have eyes on the side and back of his head at all times. This game will certainly be close, and maybe come down to a field goal. And in that case, would you rather have David Akers or (gulp) Shaun Suisham as your kicker? That’s what I thought.
THE PICK: EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 24

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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