The New England Patriots and the New York Giants made the most of their wild-card opportunities over the weekend, both teams winning in convincing fashion to advance to the conference semifinal playoffs. At the New Jersey Meadowlands on Saturday, even though the Jets had the crowd, (at least for a while) and the home field, the New England defense kept popping the ball loose to emerge on top 26-14 in a game much more physical than mental.
The Pats seem to be peaking at just the right time, though lack of depth may still prevent them from going too much further.
The Giants, playing at home on Sunday, eliminated San Francisco's defending Super Bowl champions 17-3 with a mesh defense that the 49ers were never able to break. This is just another instance of where a current titleholder failed to duplicate its intensity the following season.
With the two wild-card winners joining the six division champions this coming weekend, the National Conference games send Dallas against the Los Angeles Rams in Anaheim on Saturday, followed by the Giants at Chicago on Sunday, while in the American Conference it's Cleveland at Miami on Saturday and New England at the Los Angeles Raiders on Sunday. Probable winners: the Rams, Bears, Dolphins, and Raiders. P.E.