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Charles Robinson & Dan Wetzel preview the three NFC Wild Card matchups this weekend: the Philadelphia Eagles matching up with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the San Francisco 49ers traveling to the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals facing the Los Angeles Rams for the third time this season.
CHARLES ROBINSON: The Sunday early game, Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay, you run around the league, you talk to different people, everybody feels like this is a Tampa Bay blowout game. I don't know. I mean, we'll see. I want to see how the Buccaneers start. I don't know why, but I feel like there's still more Antonio Brown hangover that we have not experienced yet, more on the field. I want to see now how you're gonna redial this offense with a number-- like, you know, fine, Gronk, Mike Evans, but I want to see how you're gonna redial it with other role players now who Tom Brady is gonna have to elevate. You know, look, they're getting healthy. Lavonte David, Gio Bernard, there's gonna be some guys that come back into the fold for them. But we'll see. I mean, I'm not discounting that they could absolutely just house the Eagles in this game, but I guess I'm just gonna be really focused on let me see what Tom can do on the offense to help elevate some of these pieces, because Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin not being there totally changed the complexion of what I felt like that team could be in the playoffs.
DAN WETZEL: This is a very fortuitous draw for Tampa. It's the best situation going, I think even more than getting the bye, because they have to reinvent this offense a little bit. They have to get guys going. They have to figure it out. And Philadelphia is the easiest team in the playoffs, in the NFC, at least, to do that against. And so this is a chance to answer all those questions, get some momentum, and get going for when the real heavy lifting happens. And if they can't do it against Philly, they weren't going anywhere anyway. So I'd rather, if I'm Tampa, play Philly than be sitting at home like Green Bay. I just think they have work to do.
CHARLES ROBINSON: I agree.
DAN WETZEL: And not ideal to have work to do on a wild card weekend, but at least you're playing a team that you should be able to defeat.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Right. That's a good point. Sunday afternoon, San Francisco at Dallas, I keep hearing all this stuff about San Francisco being the worst possible draw for Dallas, all these-- I can tell you this right now, this is how I feel about this game. If San Francisco can run the ball successfully, they can definitely, absolutely, win this game. But I'm telling you right now, if Dallas somehow stops San Francisco from running it, Deebo Samuel being part of that, the stable of running backs that Kyle likes to kind of run through, Jimmy Garoppolo, you cannot convince me Jimmy Garoppolo can have a good game. If he has to throw 30 times, 35 times against the Dallas defense, you can't convince me Jimmy Garoppolo is gonna have a good game against Dallas' defense. I think they will eat him alive if this is a Jimmy Garoppolo game, and I think Dallas knows, if we can stop the run and force Jimmy to play perfect, we're gonna end up winning this game.
DAN WETZEL: You try to make Jimmy Garoppolo beat you, no question, and I think that's what Dan Quinn and Dallas will try to do. If we're gonna lose, let's lose that way. You need a good performance from your offense. A lot of pressure on Dallas, a lot of expectations. And San Francisco is just a rough defense to have to play against. So they need to get it going, but if they can get up on a lead, I like Dallas' chances, obviously, a great deal here.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Dallas much rather would have played Philly. I mean, there's no question. Monday night game, the big Monday night game--
DAN WETZEL: Here we go, baby!
CHARLES ROBINSON: The playoff Monday night game! Here we go! The Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams. For Matt Stafford, the stage has never gotten bigger. This is it. This is the biggest stage he's ever been on. It's the first Monday Night Football game in playoff history, against the Cardinals. Everything's riding, prime time. Everybody's gonna be watching this game on Monday night. Stafford has a chance to kind of break away from all the critics and finally show, hey, OK, I can show up, put a big game up, play well. I'm not just an upgraded Kirk Cousins, or--
DAN WETZEL: Ooh!
CHARLES ROBINSON: Look, I'm just telling you, if he falls apart in this game, what's gonna happen is people are gonna to look at him, and they're gonna go, got a better arm than Kirk Cousins, but he's a stat packer. Same thing. He's just a stat guy. Like, he's great, exquisitely talented, but he's not gonna show up when you need him. There's a lot of different elements in here. The defense for the Rams, a lot of different things we can talk about. I think this is so important for Stafford's legacy that it's just not even funny.
DAN WETZEL: Ungodly important for Matthew Stafford! Oh, my Lord! You have to win a playoff game! Never won a playoff game. Matthew Stafford is a good quarterback. He needs to avoid the pick. He threw a ton of interceptions, I think 20. This is one of those ones where, you know, it's not fair, right? It's like, well, he can't do it. Well, I mean, he was with Detroit a long time. He should have done better, but whatever. My guess is, like, they lose and he comes back and does something great in two years. But it's certainly possible. But, yeah, you're at home, you won the division, you've got all the talent, you've gotta have a big game. I think he will. I think he's gonna win this game. And the damn Cardinals, they're horrible at home, they're great on the road for some reason, so they ain't gonna care.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah, to me, it's the game that cancels out all the, well, he was playing with Detroit stuff. Like, we're past-- after this one--
DAN WETZEL: Here it comes! It's gonna be great.
CHARLES ROBINSON: --can't say that anymore. So either you win or you lose. You lose here, we're done with the, well, he was playing with Detroit. Now it's like, well, this is just who he is.