Posted on: July 1, 2010 12:02 am
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World Cup Quarterfinals Predictions

It's all about the NBA Free Agency now, but don't miss out on the World Cup!

Predictions
:

Netherlands over Brazil (in Extra Time)
Uruguay over Ghana, 2-0
Argentina over Germany, 2-1
Spain over Paraguay, 3-1
Category: World Sports
Posted on: April 22, 2010 10:47 pm
 

2010 NFL Draft- First Round Winners and Losers

Winners

1. Green Bay Packers - The Packers got to fill a major need with a player that many had predicted to go at number five overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. Bulaga is the big, strong offensive lineman that the Packers desperately need. Adding Bulaga to the Packers just makes this already dangerous offense even more dangerous.

2. Oklahoma Sooners Football - If a star recruit is having a hard time deciding between a few schools, he can look at this draft for a good indication of where to go if he wants to make it to the next level. With Sam Bradford going first overall, Gerald McCoy going third overall, and Trent Williams going fourth overall, the recruiting for Bob Stoops just got a whole lot easier.

3. Tim Tebow - After all the criticism he received this offseason, Tim Tebow goes in the first round to a solid football team in the Denver Broncos. Not to mention he goes ahead of predicted top ten pick Jimmy Clausen. Now the hard part for Tebow, proving that Denver made the right decision.

Losers

1. Buffalo Bills - The Bills already had a solid running back duo in Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, then they go out and get C.J. Spiller? This is a pass first league now; Jimmy Clausen should have been the pick here. Spiller is a great all-around player, and the Bills can be a great running team next year, but passing the ball is what wins games these days, not running it. (See Colts vs. Saints Superbowl)

2. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers trade up a plethora of spots, giving up a second rounder, and then take Ryan Mathews... who would have more than likely still been there at the Chargers original pick. Running back was probably San Diego's biggest need, sure, but taking a guy with limited upside way too early when they could have gotten him with keeping their second rounder was a colossal mistake by the Chargers.
Posted on: April 3, 2010 1:54 am
Edited on: April 3, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Harst's 2010 MLB Predictions: American League

After reading Scott Miller's predictions (and quickly realizing the MLB season is about to start), I've decided to put together some predictions regarding the MLB for this season. There will be some shocking performances here and there, yet overall, I see a pretty straightforward year for the contenders. With that being said, I also see a nice surprise come World Series time...

American League Predictions

AL East Division Winner: New York Yankees

In the East, it's hard to pick against the defending champions. They have a solid group of players who know they can win it all once again, and made some solid additions in the offseason, including pitcher Javier Vazquez and outfielder Curtis Granderson. Combine those two with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Derek Jeter, etc., and you have a team more than capable of winning their second consecutive World Series.

AL Central Division Winner: Minnesota Twins

With one of the best players in the league in Joe Mauer, as well as a superb supporting cast that includes Justin Morneau, reborn Michael Cuddyer, up and coming Denard Span, and underrated offseason addition Orlando Hudson, this is a team that can hit. The pitching is something to watch as always, but look for Kevin Slowey to have a solid year. He's got great command and his low walk rates will definitely help the Twins and their pitching woes.

AL West Division Winner: Texas Rangers

I expect Ian Kinsler to have a huge year, and I don't really know why. I have a feeling his batting average will raise greatly this season, while maintaining his home run total from last season. I really believe Kinsler will contend for the AL MVP this year, and possibly win it. He's got all the talent to make it happen. As for the rest of the team, there is a lot of talent among the Rangers. If Josh Hamilton can even improve slightly, and stay healthy, it's a huge plus for the Rangers.

AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox

Victor Martinez didn't make as huge of a splash last year as I thought he would, but I like him to have a solid year this season. Here's a guy who is a hard worker and an overall well rounded player. Boston has too many talented players, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Lackey, Jonathan Papelbon, not to make the playoffs. As always, they will contend for the division title as well.

AL Champions: Boston Red Sox

It's a bit of a stretch, but I really like Boston's chances this year. Tim Wakefield is no Jamie Moyer, not yet, and as the worst pitcher in the rotation can still provide some solid innings here and there. Clay Buchholz has great potential, and the trio of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey could be dangerous come playoff time. And as mentioned earlier, a lot of talented hitters on the squad as well.

player photoAL MVP: Evan Longoria

 Ian Kinsler, Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, and Dustin Pedroia will all be in MVP talks, but I like the young third baseman from Tampa Bay to win the MVP this year. He's got great power and just needs to improve slightly on his batting average, which I believe he will this year. Definitely see a breakout year coming, and a huge breakout year at that.


player photoAL Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz

 He's got an unbelievable amount of potential, even with everything he's already shown. As a young pitcher, a mixture of nerves and inexperience may lead to a higher ERA than most would expect, but his strikeout numbers and wins should offset that. A scary good young pitcher, always hard to go against.


player photoAL Cy Young: Justin Verlander


 The best strikeout artist in the American League and a 20 win threat, it's hard not to respect Justin Verlander as one of the best aces in the league. Felix Hernandez and C.C. Sabathia will have strong years and contend for the Cy, but I like Verlander and his consistency to get the job done. With that being said, it would be nice to see him get that ERA down, even if slightly.
Posted on: March 15, 2010 6:10 pm
 

March Madness Predictions- Midwest Region

Midwest

Spectacular 64

Kansas over Lehigh
Northern Iowa over UNLV
Michigan State over New Mexico State
Maryland over Houston
Tennessee over San Diego State
Georgetown over Ohio
Georgia Tech over Oklahoma State
Ohio State over UC Santa Barbara

Analysis :

Pretty straightforward here. Northern Iowa's big men down low should be able to do the dirty work vs. UNLV, which I think will be just enough to get them the W. In the other upset pick, I like Georgia Tech over Oklahoma State. GT will be locked into stopping James Anderson, and I'm not sold that the Cowboys have the depth to overcome a bad game from him.

Tremendous 32

Kansas over Northern Iowa
Michigan State over Maryland
Georgetown over Tennessee
Ohio State over Georgia Tech

Analysis :

Kansas should have no problem with Northern Iowa, as they have a big man duo that can compete with the Panthers. I like Michigan State to edge out Maryland in a close one, just because I think Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan still have the edge from last season's championship game loss to North Carolina, and they will play their hearts out. Georgetown has too many weapons across the court and I don't see how Tennessee will stay with them. Georgia Tech can give them a run for their money, but Ohio State should squeak a win out here. Evan Turner should have a nice game vs. the Yellow Jackets, enough to give the Buckeyes the win.

Sweet 16

Kansas over Michigan State
Georgetown over Ohio State

Analysis :

Kalin Lucas and Sherron Collins should have a fun matchup here, but Kansas is just, simply put, better than Michigan State this season. Both Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris will have to play solid a game here. If they do what they normally do and stay out of foul trouble, Michigan State won't put up enough points to beat the Jayhawks. On the other side, Evan Turner and the Buckeyes' ride comes to an end as they face a team with too many weapons. Greg Monroe has a good game down low and Chris Wright puts up around twenty in the Hoyas' win.

Elite 8

Kansas over Georgetown

Analysis :

Greg Monroe and Cole Aldrich will have a fun battle all day long, as will Sherron Collins and Chris Wright. At the end of the day, however, Kansas has a little too much depth for Georgetown to overcome. Look for more underrated players like Tyrel Reed and Markieff Morris to step up as the bench / non-stars really makes the difference in this game. I like Kansas to win this one, but it will be a close one no doubt.

Final Four Rep :

#1 Kansas Jayhawks
Posted on: March 6, 2010 6:18 pm
 

Why a Kansas-Kentucky clash would be legendary...

This April, the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game will be held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. We, the college basketball fans of the world, can only hope and pray that the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats make it to that esteemed game. Because if they don't, fans of the game will always wonder what would happen if these two powerhouses clashed...

Many things contribute to a Kansas-Kentucky championship game potentially being the best ever. It's a bold statement, but I truly think a game between these two would be, simply put, sick basketball. One of those factors is the fact that, no matter their rankings/seeds, in my opinion the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats are, by far, the two best teams in the country. They are the only first-tier teams, and there is a significant drop-off before you get to the second-tier teams of Duke, Syracuse, etc.

Another thing is their respective legacies. Kentucky and Kansas are always expected to do big things come March, and fulfilling those expectations would definitely be satisfactory for their die-hard fans.

Two of the best coaches in the nation would also clash. I honestly believe Bill Self can work with any group of guys and make them as great as they have the potential to be. A true basketball mastermind. John Calipari singlehandedly turned Kentucky from an average squad last year to a championship-caliber team this season. For that, Calipari deserves as much respect as any of the star players of the Wildcats.

Talking about players, a Kansas-Kentucky matchup would showcase two amazing head to head battles. For starters, there is the big man matchup. While Marcus Morris has become a rock for the Jayhawks this season, especially in conference play, Cole Aldrich is the overall better big who would square off vs. DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky. Aldrich and Cousins are both, arguably, 1st Team All-Americans. Defensively, Aldrich is a true shot-altering artist. He will bang with any big down low. Cousins is a scoring threat around the rim. He would push Aldrich to his limits, while keeping him contested on the other end. It would, for sure, be a great big man matchup.

The other star matchup would be, again, a matchup of arguably two more 1st Team All-Americans. Senior Kansas guard Sherron Collins has cemented his legacy already for the Jayhawks, and will go down as one of the best players to ever don the Kansas jersey. However, as the leader of the team, he knows that their job is far from over. From his in-your-face, aggressive style of defense, to his ability to penetrate by his defender and attack the basket, to his undeniable urge to put the team on his shoulders and take responsibility for any loss, Collins is a true player of heart who will do whatever it takes to win. On the other end, for Kentucky, in one season John Wall has made a name for himself as possibly the best player in the nation. A true floor general who can drop points and rack up dimes, Wall has an array of skills that have people so convinced that many have him penciled in for next year's #1 draft pick. The solid senior guard vs. the fantastic freshman, two of the best players in the country, would be quite epic.

Honestly, a Kansas-Kentucky matchup would be beautifully amazing. Two #1 seeded teams with a total of four guys who should end up as All-Americans, two of the most qualified coaches in the nation, two basketball programs who want a championship badly. Two of the best guards in the nation going head to head, two of the best big men in the nation going head to head. The two best teams in the coutnry, top to bottom, going head to head...

Cross your fingers.

Posted on: January 29, 2010 8:41 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2010 5:50 pm
 

NFL Mock Draft w/Analysis (1/29)

If anything is clear to me after finishing my first mock draft, it is this: there are many teams with needs along the defensive and offensive line. There are no teams in the top five that couldn't use a stud in the trenches. Another thing I learned is that most teams are set at running back and wide receiver, as well as tight end. The "glamour" positions are not high in demand. This is evident whenever a future Pro-Bowl caliber tight end in Jermaine Gresham falls to the bottom portion of the draft, where he could easily be passed up for a shutdown corner or a safe offensive lineman. This is the draft where the stars who normally get no love, rise up. This is the draft where the hard working players finally get the spotlight.

1. St. Louis Rams- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska 

The Rams have an obvious, pressing need at quarterback, so a QB selection should not surprise anyone here. With that being said, the Rams know how rare it is to have an opportunity to get a player that is as dominant on the D-line as Ndamukong Suh. I don't see the Rams passing up on the monster, the machine, the truck that is Suh.

2. Detroit Lions- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

The Lions desperately need a playmaker in the secondary. To describe the Lions' pass defense as below average is a compliment. The defense that allowed over 400 passing yards to Brady Quinn would welcome a stud in coverage with open arms. Eric Berry is a freak in the secondary, constantly making huge plays and frustrating quarterbacks. Berry is flexible enough to play safety or even cornerback.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

Somewhat of a darkhorse after the introduction of Suh, Gerald McCoy is another stud on the defensive line. McCoy is great at penetrating the opposing offensive line and making plays go nowhere. The Bucs desperately need a defensive tackle, and if one falls to them, there is no doubt that they will take him.

4. Washington Redskins- Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

The Redskins have many offensive needs, and it starts with quarterback. Jimmy Clausen could easily be the pick here, but I see the Redskins going with the smarter, more accurate quarterback in Sam Bradford. Bradford is coming off an injury-plagued season, but his talent is undeniable. The Redskins desperately need a fresh new face to lead their offense, no matter who it is.

5. Kansas City Chiefs- Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

The Chiefs could use the athletic freak Okung at offensive tackle. The Chiefs could also use a number of pieces on defense, particularly in the secondary. However, I don't see them passing up the clear-cut number one offensive tackle in the draft. Okung has no glaring weaknesses, and anytime you can get a player like that, it is smart to do so.

6. Seattle Seahawks- Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

Morgan can play the run and the pass, which makes him a very valuable player. The Seahawks could use a fierce pass rusher at end, and Morgan gives them exactly that. If they want to go another direction, the Sehawks may reach for running back C.J. Spiller or even go with quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

7. Cleveland Browns- Joe Haden, CB, Florida

The Browns desperately need a superstar corner, and in the future that's what I believe Joe Haden can become. Haden has all the tools to be a star in the NFL: speed, strength, and simply put, talent. If not, a linebacker is a big possibility here.

8. Oakland Raiders- Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

Davis is a physical force on the offensive line, and the Raiders desperately need a offensive lineman. Seems like the perfect marriage. Concerns with Davis are his attitude and work ethic, as well as his intangibles. However, his potential is undeniable and hard to pass up.

9. Buffalo Bills- Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

The Bills could go many directions here, but new coach Chan Gailey will make a strong first impression with the drafting of Jimmy Clausen. Clausen should have no problem adapting to the NFL-style offense, and his surprisingly mature arm strength makes him a potential star in the league.

10. Denver Broncos (via CHI)- Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

The Broncos struggled to move the ball down the field last year, and with diva wideout Brandon Marshall always causing headaches, a wide receiver makes sense here. Bryant is dynamic, and as talented as they come. Defensively, the Broncos could also use a player like Rolando McClain or Carlos Dunlap if they choose to pass on Bryant.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars- Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

Tim Tebow may be the popular pick, but Carlos Dunlap fills the bigger need. He's physical and a scary fast threat off the edge. Dunlap also has room to grow and with experience will only get better. The main knack on Dunlap is his off-the-field behavior, which has gotten him into recent trouble. USF's Jason Pierre-Paul is also a possible selection here.

12. Miami Dolphins- Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama

13. San Francisco 49ers- Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

14. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)- C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

15. New York Giants- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

He's inexperienced, but Jason Pierre-Paul has undoubtedly amazing skills. Off the edge, he is one of the most frightening pass rushers in this year's draft class. Very quick with an amazing burst off the line. Taking a chance on this guy is scary, because he is not experienced, but Pierre-Paul has all the tools to be an amazing defensive end in the NFL.

16. Tennessee Titans (?)- Everson Griffen, DE, USC

The Titans could use a linebacker or a cornerback, but defensive end is the most pressing need. Everson Griffen has shown he is a talented pass rusher with room for improvement. Cornerbacks Kyle Wilson of Boise State and Patrick Robinson of Florida State are also possible selections here, although the Titans will most likely see it too early to draft either.

17. San Francisco 49ers (?)- Taylor Mays, S, USC

18. Pittsburgh Steelers- Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

The Steelers don't have many pressing needs, so taking an offensive lineman that's probably already NFL material makes sense here. Bryan Bulaga has good size and power on the o-line, and should help pave the way on the ground. Other possible selections here include backs Jonathan Dwyer, Jahvid Best, or Maryland O-Lineman Bruce Campbell.

19. Atlanta Falcons (?)- Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

20. Houston Texans (?)- Earl Thomas, S, Texas

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

The Bengals could also use a tight end here, so don't rule out the Sooners' Jermaine Gresham. However, I feel a defensive lineman fills a bigger need. Dan Williams is a great run-stopper at defensive tackle, which the Bengals could use. Other choices here include Brian Price of UCLA or Jared Odrick from Penn State, both defensive tackles.

22. New England Patriots- Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas

23. Green Bay Packers- Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

24. Philadelphia Eagles- Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida

25. Baltimore Ravens- Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

The Ravens defensively are fine, but offensively they struggled to move down the field this year. With many good wide receivers still on the board at this point, look for the Ravens to take the electric wideout from Notre Dame, Golden Tate. If not, the Ravens can choose from other talented wide receivers. Damian Williams and Arrelious Benn will still be on the board at this point. Todd Heap does have some question marks himself, so a Jermaine Gresham selection would not be a shock.

26. Arizona Cardinals- Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

27. Dallas Cowboys- Mike Iupati, OL, Idaho

28. San Diego Chargers- Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech

With Ladanian Tomlinson done (washed up?), the Chargers need to draft a back. With an electric back already set in Darren Sproles, a back with more power makes sense here. Jonathan Dwyer can run between the tackles, something Sproles has never been able to do. Jahvid Best would be a good pick here if he were not the exact same player as Sproles. The Chargers may go with a safety if they want to go another direction.

29. New York Jets- Damian Williams, WR, USC

The Jets, like the Ravens, are set defensively but in need of a star wide receiver. Damian Williams falling to the Jets seems like the perfect scenario. Quarterback Mark Sanchez already has experience throwing to Williams, so that transition should be smooth. Not only that, but Williams will most likely be the best wideout on the board at this point anyway, minus Arrelious Benn. 

30. Minnesota Vikings- Brian Price, DT, UCLA

31. New Orleans Saints (*)- Ricky Sapp, OLB, Clemson

32. Indianapolis Colts (*)- Jared Odrick, DT, Penn State

(?) subject to coin flip
(*) subject to Super Bowl
Posted on: January 22, 2010 6:28 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2010 6:35 pm
 

AFC Championship Game Preview--- Colts vs. Jets

The Indianapolis Colts take on the New York Jets this weekend for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. On one side, the Colts are led by the MVP of the league, a future hall of fame quarterback in Peyton Manning. On the other side, the Jets are led by the number one defense in the NFL, and one of the top running games in the league (maybe the top, I forget to be honest).

The Jets defense has been amazing this season, and one player in particular has gone from, essentially, being a no-namer to a household name. NYJ cornerback Darrelle Revis has repeatedly shut down some of the top receivers in the game, including Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Roddy White, among others. His assignment this week will more than likely be Indianapolis star wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Tough draw for any defender in the NFL, but I like Revis to do a good job on Wayne.

With that being said, the Colts have many other weapons to throw the ball to. Even if Revis does a superb job on Reggie Wayne, Peyton has superb pass-catching tight end Dallas Clark and young wideouts Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie to throw the ball to. I see the Jets struggling to cover all of the Colts' weapons in this game, especially with a QB like Manning getting them the ball.

The Jets' offense will have to play a very good game if they want to keep up with Indy. Rookie Mark Sanchez has been very accurate and very smart lately... however, the Jets are not a team that can pick up a chunk of yards through the air. Will short slant routes get it done vs. the Colts? The Jets do feature an amazing run game, led by Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene. Whether it's Jones or Greene, the Jets repeatedly pound the ball inside and pitch it outside, carving up big yards for their backs. 

This is truly a game of offense vs. defense, with the Colts' high powered offense meeting the Jets' dominance defense. Turn the tables though, and I think the Colts' defense can do a good job with the Jets' offense.

The Jets' offense did not have a good game at San Diego last week. Luckily, their defense played outstanding on the road, shutting down the Chargers... and the offense's mediocre performance got the job done.

To be honest, I don't see the Colts struggling as the Chargers did. I don't see the Jets winning in Indianapolis, their third road game in a row, vs. the MVP quarterback, on arguably the biggest stage of Sanchez's career...

Colts 27
Jets 14

The Cinderella story ends.
Posted on: January 6, 2010 1:24 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

vs. 

WILD CARD ROUND --- The Dallas Cowboys (3) and the Philadelphia Eagles (6) face off for the third time this season, and needless to say, this is the most important. The winner moves on in the surprisingly tough NFC playoffs, while the loser goes home with a lot of unanswered questions.

Leading up to their anticipated Week 17 matchup, both teams had momentum. The Eagles had won six straight games, their offense was looking unstoppable, and the defense was stepping up in the crucial moments. All looked good. On the other side, the Cowboys were coming off two very impressive performances. The first was a win against the then-undefeated New Orleans Saints; the second was a shutout performance of the Washington Redskins. The defense was looking strong, and Romo's woes in December had suddenly disappeared. Two hot teams facing each other, with the stakes high. An Eagles win gave them the #2 seed and a first round bye. A Cowboys win would ensure them home field advantage for at least their first game, and with help, a potential #2 seed for themselves.

The game turned out to be a party for the Cowboys. From the beginning, the Eagles' defense could not stop the run. Marion Barber and Felix Jones began slicing through the injury-riddled defense of Philadelphia. Tony Romo began to find his groove early on, as well. The Eagles offense never got anything going, and the game ended painfully... a 24-0 loss to the hated rival Dallas Cowboys.

This week, however, the Eagles can start fresh. A win vs. the Cowboys this Saturday night and the Week 17 loss will be forgotten. A loss vs. the Cowboys this Saturday night and the Cowboys are 3-0 vs. the Eagles in the 2009-2010 season, a mark that will not be forgotten in seasons to come.

Impact Players

The Cowboys are the favorites to win this game, and a big reason why they are favored is because of their defense. The defense shut down New Orleans in the upset, held Washington to zero points, and then shut out the scoring hot Eagles offense. The defense's toughness starts up front with Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff. As it was last week, the matchup of Ratliff vs. inexperienced Philadelphia center Nick Cole will be a big key to this game. Cole did a better job than most assumed he would last week vs. Ratliff, but this week could very well be another story.

To stop the Cowboys, the main player that must the stopped is the quarterback, Tony Romo. At the end of the day, Romo is the man leading the Cowboys to victory. To stop Romo, the secondary must obviously play a great game. However, I think getting pressure on him is the more effecient way of flustering Romo. In Week 17, Tony Romo had all the time to throw the ball, as the Eagles' defense got minimal pressure throughout the game. With all of this time, Romo easily found Miles Austin, Jason Witten, and Patrick Crayton throughout the game and in the clutch situations. Romo got through the dreaded month of December, and while it started out scary, by the end of the month most Cowboy fans are trusting Romo to get the job done.

The main man I expect to see stepping it up for Philadelphia is defensive end Trent Cole. Cole is the best pass rusher on the Eagles' defense, as well as the leader. For the Eagles to have a chance in this game, they must stop Tony Romo. To stop Tony Romo, they must bring pressure on him. To bring pressure on him, they need their best pass rusher to step up their game, and that man is Trent Cole. If Cole and the Eagles defense can get to Romo early, I see him making some bad decisions that feisty cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown may be able to take advantage of.

Key Matchups

Miles Austin has been one of the pleasant surprises this season for the Dallas Cowboys, and has made a name for himself as one of the big play threats in the NFL. Austin faces one of the best cornerback tandems in the league of All-Pro corner Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown. For Austin to be shut down in this matchup, the Eagles' corners need to cotinue their stellar play.

It's already been mentioned, but the matchup between center Nick Cole of the Eagles and nose tackle Jay Ratliff of the Cowboys is a very important one. Ratliff had a quiet game in Week 17, but chances of him being that quiet this Saturday are slim. The stakes are higher and I expect the same of Ratliff's level of play.

Eagles' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has done a nice job of calling the defense in his first season taking over for the late Jim Johnson, but how will he fare vs. a great playcaller in the Cowboys' Jason Garrett. Garrett has more experience, but look for McDermott to do a solid job with the defense.

Eagles vs. Cowboys Stadium is also a huge matchup that no one is talking about. In Week 17, it certainly looked like there were some nerves in the Eagles' players, playing in Cowboy Stadium. The crowd can really help Dallas in this game, as it did last week.

Keys to the Game

For the Eagles, the main thing they have to do is get going early, offensively and defensively. They will be nervous, knowing that they are the underdogs and playing possibly the hottest team in the NFC. If the Eagles can get going early, however, they will forget about the critics and just go out there and play. If not, I see them losing confidence quickly, as it seems they did in Week 17.

For the Cowboys, the main key is stopping the Eagles' big plays. They did a great job in Week 17, and if they can keep it up in this game, look for them to have a huge advantage. DeSean Jackson is at his best when he's making the big plays, something he hasn't been able to do vs. the Cowboys this season.

Prediction

Donovan McNabb does not like losing, and I think he'll come out with fire in this game. Look for him, along with tight end Brent Celek, to have big games for the Eagles on offense. The Cowboys' defense has shut down DeSean Jackson well this season, and I see them slowing him down this game as well. With Jackson being bottled up, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant have to have big games.

As a diehard Eagles fan it's hard to go against them, but I like the Dallas Cowboys in this game. They are hot at the right time, and it's not just one particular unit. The offense is on fire, and very balanced. Marion Barber and Felix Jones can slice and dice through that plagued Eagles' defense, while Tony Romo has great targets to get the ball to. The Cowboys' defense is aggressive, and they haven't allowed any points in the last two games vs. NFC East competition.

There you have it... should be a great game, one that I am looking very forward to. While the Cowboys are the frontrunners to win this game, the Eagles have what it takes to not only win this game, but advance deep into the postseason. I made my prediction of the Cowboys to win the game, but here's to hoping that I am dreadfully wrong. :p
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com