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The X-Factors on Championship Sunday


Run-DRC and the Cardinals have bigger dreams, beginning with Super Bowl 43 in Tampa...

This is Championship Sunday in the NFL, and as we approach the NFC Championship and the AFC Championship, whoever makes the most big plays are going to win. The 'known' playmakers for all the teams are pretty recognizable. Brian Westbrook, Larry Fitzgerald, Ed Reed, and Troy Polamalu. However, you know that this is ETSF, and I'm going to dig much deeper than those easy selections. Keep an eye on these 4 players, I guarantee they make a difference in the game on Sunday.

NFC Championship - Eagles at Cardinals, 3pm ET

Eagles' RB Correll Buckhalter - The other runningback not named Brian Westbrook in Philly's backfield. #28 is as resilient as they come, and my boy Craig is going to love me shouting out a Nebraska alum. Buckhalter's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He missed the 2002 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and both the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to a torn patellar tendon in his right knee. However, he's always been capable of making big plays. He'll be key in chipping on pass protection for McNabb, and with the "Human Decoy #36" taking the focus from the defense, he'll need to come up huge.

Projected ETSF Stat Line: 6 carries, 44 yards, 3 receptions, 52 yards, TD

Cardinals' DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - Falcons Pro Bowl WR Roddy White...check. Panthers Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith...check. Compliments of Run-DRC (copyright me, this nickname will blow up) aka Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, those all-pro wide receivers were slowed down considerably by DRC's defense, and now the flock of Eagles' receivers land down in AZ. I expect DRC to lock up on another rookie, DeSean Jackson, which should make up for a dynamic matchup. The Cardinals need him to make probably 2 big plays, we'll see what happens...

Projected ETSF Stat Line: 6 tackles, 2 pass deflections, 1 INT

AFC Championship - Ravens at Steelers, 6:30pm ET

Ravens DE Terrell Suggs - T. Suggs (shoulder) is not a lock to play in Sunday's AFC Championship game, the Associated Press reports. I think he's milking it personally, he's gonna play. You think Ray Lewis won't threaten him...I mean, inspire him to get ready for the field on Sunday. 5-5 is the only D-End on the Ravens who can consistently get to Big Ben either in the pocket or while scrambling, if he's a no go, then Baltimore has to rely on the blitz even more than normal.

Projected ETSF Stat Line: 8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble

Steelers WR Nate Washington - With Ravens DB Samari Rolle listed as tentative to play this Sunday, look for the Steelers to spread the Ravens out to get better one-on-one matchups. One key player will be Washington, who I swear seems to get 1-2 long throws his way where he's either super wide-open or draws a 45-yard pass interference call. #85 has top-end speed and has Big Ben's trust in clutch situations. I would bet a $20 he gets 6 on a downfield throw.

Projected ETSF Stat Line: 3 catches, 82 receiving yards, 1 TD

AM I FORGETTING ANYONE? MY SUPER BOWL WINNER IS STILL IN IT! WHERE'S YOURS?

-Ed.
www.edthesportsfan.com

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