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NFL capsules for playoff games

By Earl Bloom The Orange County Register (MCT) • Updated Jan 4, 2014 at 12:47 AM

The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans didn’t make it, but the eyes of Austin, Texas, will be upon Philadelphia on Saturday in the NFL wild-card round.

Westlake High of Austin produced Drew Brees, 33, and Nick Foles, 24, the respective quarterbacks for the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles. Brees led Westlake to its only state title in 1996; Foles broke Brees’ passing yardage and TD records in leading the Chaparrals to the state title game 10 years later.

Both went to Big Ten schools, Brees to QB factory Purdue (producer of 12 pros, most notably Len Dawson, Bob Griese and Jim Everett), and Foles went to Michigan State before transferring to Arizona.

Baseball’s Kelly Gruber and Huston Street went to Westlake, as did current Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker and former NBA center Chris Mihm.

The only previous NFL playoff matchup between QBs who were graduated from the same high school occurred in 1974, when the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terry Bradshaw and the Buffalo Bills’ Joe Ferguson met in a first-round encounter. Both went to Woodlawn of Shreveport, La. The Steelers won, 32-14, en route to their Super Bowl IX triumph over Minnesota.

Former USC quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez, who met in a 2009 playoff game, both attended Santa Margarita High, but Sanchez transferred to Mission Viejo after his sophomore year.

In case you’re looking ahead, Westlake’s latest quarterback, Jordan Severt (6-foot-4, 228, 4.74 in the 40) will be attending SMU in the fall.


AFC: Kansas City (11-5) at Indianapolis (11-5), 4:30 p.m. EST — The Chiefs rested their stars last week, but they’ve been a shadow of their 9-0 selves the past month and a half. Winner: Colts. Andrew Luck & Co. went to Kansas City and won, 23-7, in Week 16. Andy Reid turned the franchise around this year, but the Chiefs are stumbling trying to regain their early momentum. Jamaal Charles might need another five-TD performance (like Week 15 vs. Oakland) to snap the Chiefs out of it.

NFC: New Orleans (11-5) at Philadelphia (10-6), 8 p.m. — No, Brees’ Saints aren’t as good on the road. But as NFL Films’ Greg Cosell noted, their five away losses came against teams with a combined 52-28 record. Winner: Eagles. Only Dallas (twice) slowed Philadelphia’s up-tempo attack, for which Cowboys DC Monte Kiffin strangely received little credit. Saints DC Rob Ryan will try to blitz Foles, but that opens up New Orleans for quick-hitters to LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, each usually one missed tackle from a TD.


AFC: San Diego (9-7) at Cincinnati (11-5), 1 p.m. — The Chargers won at Philadelphia, at Kansas City and at Denver, so they have a chance. Winner: Bengals. They were 8-0 at home, and won at San Diego, 17-10, in Week 13. If the Bengals can slow down Chargers workhorse back Ryan Mathews, they should win easily. Mathews averaged 26 carries and 117.7 yards in the four-game winning streak San Diego needed to get in. An ankle injury held him out of practice this week, but Mathews likely needed the rest.

NFC: San Francisco (12-4) at Green Bay (8-7-1), 4:30 p.m. — Aaron Rodgers channeled his inner Doug Flutie last week at Chicago to get the Packers in the playoffs, but he likely needs much more vs. S.F. Winner: 49ers. They have the best record of any wild-card team, and the best chance of winning on the road. The Packers need herculean efforts from Rodgers and rookie RB Eddie Lacy to overcome a more-talented team, and Green Bay’s own defensive inadequacies.

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Bloom 2013 regular-season record (final): 151-87-1

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