Twistity Eye on Football: NFL PREVIEW

  No team has ever played the Super Bowl in its home stadium. With University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona the site of Super Bowl XLIX, the team...


 
No team has ever played the Super Bowl in its home stadium.

With University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona the site of Super Bowl XLIX, the team in the crosshairs as the NFL playoffs begin on Saturday is the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have only appeared in the Super Bowl once before and haven’t won the league championship since 1947 (when they were based in Chicago).

The Cardinals got off to a 9-1 start but lost their top two quarterbacks along the way, so their path behind third-stringer Ryan Lindley will be tough indeed. Lindley is 1-5 as a starter.

How Wild-Card Weekend stacks up

SATURDAY

Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at Carolina Panthers (7-8-1): The Panthers get the home field by virtue of having won the miserable NFC South division. They are, however, the first team to win that division title in consecutive years and they’ve played well of late. They won their last four games and allowed only 44 points in those games.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): The Ravens are 0-3 in playoff games at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell (knee) is extremely questionable and the Steelers aren’t deep in the backfield. The Ravens get massive nose tackle Haloti Ngata back from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

SUNDAY

Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5): The Bengals lack a pass rush. Their 20 sacks were the fewest in the NFL this season. The Colts beat the Bengals 27-0 in Indy in October, forcing 11 punts and holding the Bengals to 135 total yards.

Detroit Lions (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-4): This matchup will feature two of the game’s top receivers, in Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Dallas’ Dez Bryant. Dallas also has the NFL’s leading rusher in DeMarco Murray (a club-record 1,845 yards) and Tony Romo led the NFL in passer rating.
 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman .

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