Well, the Wild Card round is in the books of the NFL NIT Tournament, with the favorites sweeping the board. Only 8 teams remain, battling it out for the coveted title of ‘Best team that didn’t make the actual playoffs!’
Simulations have been done with the excellent http://whatifsports.com as well as taking some weather averages from the equally excellent http://weather.com – and I used some dice to factor in precipitation. But enough talk! Time for zee games:
(3) Buffalo @ (2) Houston (55 degrees, clear skies)
Houston continues the favorites undefeated run in the NFL NIT 2007 tournament, winning this one 25-22 after being down by a touchdown with less than three minutes remaining. The Texans tacked on a 2 point conversion just to be safe and be up by a field goal, but the Bills never got downfield to do so. The Texans D held Buffalo to a four and out and player of the game Ron Dayne took care of the rest, sending Houston to the AFC NIT Championship game.
Player of the game: Ron Dayne 14 attempts 100 yards, 1 TD
(4) Carolina @ (1) Philadelphia (30 degrees, moderate snow, moderate winds)
Although the game was all tied at the end of the 1 st quarter, the Eagles defense would make sure the Panthers did not score any points after that. Vinny Testaverde did nothing to help his team’s chances with 3 interceptions and Deshaun Foster fumbled in the third quarter, as the Panthers were driving inside Eagle territory. Two Donovan McNabb to Brian Westbrook TD’s in the second half would finalize this one 21-7 and send the Eagles onto the NFC NIT Championship game.
Player of the game: Donovan McNabb 23/34 284 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT
(4) Cincinnati @ (1) Cleveland (25 degrees, clear skies)
In what seemingly has become an NFL NIT trend, this game also went right down to the wire as well as going in favor of the favorite. Derek Anderson showed poise in the pocket as well as cool under pressure, driving his team 78 yards with less than two minutes to go in the game. A 19 yard teardrop to Braylon Edwards made it 26-23 Browns with 32 seconds left. That score would also be the final one, with the Bengals unable to mount a substantial drive or even an attempted field goal.
Player of the game: Derek Anderson 16/23 189 yards 1 TD, 0 INT
(3) Arizona @ (2) Minnesota (Dome, but the weather outside is frightful!)
The Arizona Cardinals ended the underdogs losing streak in the NIT playoffs, with yet another down to the wire finish. Down by a TD at the start of the 4 th quarter, Edgerrin James took the team on his back and accounted for 63 of the game tying 76 yard TD drive. The Cardinals D answered the call, forcing the Vikings into a three and out, followed by Kurt Warner driving the offense just far enough for Neil Rackers to kick a 26 yard go ahead field goal. A Tavaris Jackson interception gave the Cardinals hope and although they did not score again, they ran out enough of the clock and stopped the Vikings offense yet again to come away with the victory 20-17.
Player of the game: Edgerrin James 23 attempts 114 yards, 1 TD
NFL NIT Championship Matchups
(3) Arizona @ (1) Philadelphia
(2) Houston @ (1) Cleveland
Arizona is obviously the story of the tournament so far. Will they continue their Cinderella run or will they be knocked off by my un-simulated prediction, Philadelphia? In the AFC, will Cleveland prove that they could have had a better run than Tennessee in the actual playoffs, or will Houston continue their surprising season and show they are a force to be reckoned with next year?