TIME: US | UK
WEATHER: US | UK
THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE ONLINE
Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
Wildcard Weekend Preview
Until last night's Sugar Bowl, I must admit that a lot of Bowl Season has been clicked on 'x2' in our house. Even the ones that haven't been fast forwarded have turned into something of a New Year blur without the need for a single drop of alcohol. The NFL, on the other hand, has come beautifully into focus over the holiday period, tying up the Brett Favre/Chad Pennington plot arc and the Ed Hochuli gaff with circular satisfaction.
Now for the second season's plot lines. Welcome to the playoffs.
ATLANTA FALCONS @ ARIZONA CARDINALS
21.30, Saturday 3
The plot: A Falcons team that has rebuilt itself in a single year visits a Cardinals team that hibernated through December after wrapping up a terrible division too early. Will Atlanta catch Arizona still groggy from their slumber? Were Arizona really any good in the first place?
The subplot: Matt Ryan, rookie savior, against Kurt Warner, a 37–year old having a season for the ages. Does Warner's playoff experience prove the difference now?
The twist: Inexperienced as Ryan is, he doesn't show it, while Kurt Warner's rhythm can be affected by a pass rusher of John Abraham's quality. In the end, it's not about the QBs, it's about the runners. The Cardinals have the most anemic rushing attack in the league, while the Falcons have the second–best. Atlanta RB Michael Turner had almost 1700 yards in the regular season, and Arizona might not be able to contain him.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERSv
01.00, Sunday 4
The plot: A meeting of two teams on hot streaks, both of whom fought back after starts so bad that the playoffs once seemed unlikely. The Colts have won nine straight, earning Peyton Manning the league MVP, while the Chargers righted a wrong with their defeat of Denver.
The subplot: San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the heart of the Chargers offense, is hurt again. And the Colts have got away with the second–worst rush offense in the NFL. This one could be on the QBs, top–rated Philip Rivers and the resurgent Manning.
The twist: Chargers tight end Antonio Gates might also be gimpy, taking Rivers down a peg. Meanwhile, the Tony Dungy–coached Colts traditionally play better defense and produce a better rushing attack come playoff time. After the elation of stealing the AFC West from under the noses of the Broncos, the Chargers could be headed for a let down just six days later.
BALTIMORE RAVENS @ MIAMI DOLPHINS
18.00, Sunday 4
The plot: A super–tough Ravens defense and rookie phenom Joe Flacco visit the upstart Dolphins, AFC East winners only a year after winning just one game. Can Miami gain revenge for a 13–27 loss to the Ravens earlier in the season?
The subplot: Cam Cameron may have been a celebrated bust as head coach of Miami, being booed before he ever coached a game there, but as offensive coordinator of the Ravens, he's helped Flacco step straight in and contribute not with dinks and dunks, but as a legitimate threat to send the ball deep.
The twist: The only 'twist' may be Chad Pennington being corkscrewed into the ground by defensive pressure. The Ravens are a top–three team against the pass and the run, and fullback Lorenzo Neal's arrival has turned Le'Ron McClain, Willis McGahee and Ray Rice into a triple–headed running threat. The Ravens are simply too physical for the Dolphins. It could be ugly.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS
21.30, Sunday 4
The plot: Since his brief benching in November, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has returned to playing at his best, and the Eagles come off a dominating destruction of Dallas. By comparison, the Vikings kicked a fieldgoal to squeak in, and the fans are split over who should be the Vikings' starting QB, the fleet–footed Tarvaris Jackson or ol' reliable Gus Frerotte.
The subplot: Here's two of the league's best defenses, especially against the run. Adrian Peterson is getting a reputation for fumbling too often, and the Eagles linebackers could take advantage. The Vikings rush defense has been keyed by their impenetrable defensive wall. Could this turn into a battle between kickers Ryan Longwell and David Akers?
The twist: That impenetrable wall included Ray Edwards (missing), Pat Williams (questionable, shoulder), Kevin Williams (8.5 sacks, but none over the past month), and Jared Allen. That puts a lot on the shoulders of Allen. If Eagles RB Brian Westbrook starts going 'all–purpose' on the Vikings, the twist could be all four home teams losing in the first round of the playoffs.