Even after last week’s first-round playoff win against Philadelphia, I still heard people asking whether or not Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips had done enough to avoid getting fired this offseason.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress doesn’t have those same concerns, as he received a lucrative contract extension in the middle of the regular season.
But both coaches have one thing in common: They both need a win Sunday.
Phillips has coached 10 years in the NFL. He has a career winning percentage of .600. The Cowboys win last week pushed his career playoff record to 1-4. Yes, that was his first playoff win.
Childress has coached 4 years in the NFL, all of them in charge of the Purple. He’s 36-28 in as a head coach, yet just 0-1 in the playoffs.
Both coaches need a victory, at the very least just to validate their standing with their respective organizations.
Now, for some predictions, though I was just 1-3 last week:
- Sorry Vikings fans, but I’m taking the Cowboys 34-24. Sometimes, teams peak too soon, and I wonder if the Vikings didn’t do that. Meanwhile, Dallas has been red-hot of late. Of course, they played last week, so that’s one reason why some say the Cowboys are the hotter team. I think Cowboys QB Tony Romo has a big game, tossing three TDs as Jason Witten and Miles Austin shine.
- In the other NFC game, I’m picking the big upset. I’m taking Arizona to knock off No. 1 seed New Orleans. The Saints have gone too long without a victory, and I think the Cardinals are just the kind of team that can make them pay for it. The Saints haven’t given up fewer than 20 points in their last five weeks, and they haven’t won a game in over a month, scoring 44 points in that three-game span. Cardinals 31, Saints 28.
- In the AFC, we got Indianapolis against Baltimore. The Colts are much like the Saints, having gone a little too long without a win. But I like Peyton Manning and Indy to bounce back. Really, they haven’t lost a game all year that they’ve actually tried to win. I think they’ll find their groove offensively against the stout Ravens defense, and they’ll make enough plays on the other side of the ball. Colts 34, Ravens nevermore … I mean 20.
- Also, there’s San Diego vs. the New York Jets. I don’t think I respect the Jets enough. They may have just squeezed into the playoffs, but they do have the top defense in the NFL. Cornerback Darrelle Revis is a freak, and Calvin Pace and Shaun Ellis have been pretty tough up front. But I’m taking the Chargers, despite beleaguered coach Norv Turner, who rarely gets it done in the playoffs. Chargers 20, Jets 14.