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Today's divisional playoff games



Jacksonville )12-5) at N.Y. Jets (12-4)

Time: 12: 40 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9.

Line: Jets by 8.

Vs. spread: Jaguars 9-7; Jets 12-4.

Vs. common opponents: Jaguars 5-2; Jets 6-1.

Last week: Jaguars beat Patriots, 25-10, in wild-card game. Jets had first-round bye.

Series: Tied 1-1.

Last meeting: Jaguars won, 21-17, on Oct. 13, 1996, in Jacksonville.

Postseason records: Jaguars 3-2; Jets 5-6.

Outlook: What happens when two best friends face each other in the playoffs? Jacksonville's Tom Coughlin was wide receivers coach under Bill Parcells when both were with the Giants from 1988-90, culminating in victory in Super Bowl XXV. The two men are buddies, but that does not mean they don't want to beat each other.

The key to this game is Jaguars QB Mark Brunell, who missed most of December with a high ankle sprain and was rusty last week. Instead of running on that plush grass at home, he'll be scrambling on a hard artificial turf and passing in cold and possibly windy conditions.

Expect the Jets to duplicate the plan the Patriots tried -- blitz Brunell constantly. The Jets want Brunell to scramble because his ankle is limiting his mobility. QB Vinny Testaverde, 12-1 as the Jets' starter, and his offense will easily move the ball against a mediocre Jacksonville defense. But this could turn into a tight game because the Jets don't have enough defensive standouts, especially on the line, to stop rookie RB Fred Taylor, who is on a roll.

Notable: Jaguars K Mike Hollis is 12-for-12 on career playoff field-goal attempts. Parcells is 64-26 at the Meadowlands, including 4-1 in playoffs. Overall, he is 6-1 in home playoff games.


JAGUARS: Questionable: S Mike Logan (knee); C Quentin Neujahr (neck). Probable: S Donovin Darius (shoulder); DE Tony Brackens (hip); TE Damon Jones (ankle); WR Keenan McCardell (hand).


Arizona (10-7) at Minnesota (15-1)

Time: 4: 15 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5.

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM).

Line: Vikings by 15 1/2.

Vs. spread: Cardinals 6-10; Vikings 11-4.

Vs. common opponents: Cardinals 6-2; Vikings 8-0.

Last week: Cardinals beat Cowboys, 20-7, in wild-card game. Vikings had first-round bye.

Series: Tied 8-8.

Last meeting: Vikings won, 20-19, on Oct. 5, 1997, in Arizona.

Postseason records: Cardinals 1-4; Vikings 14-20.

Outlook: Nothing seems to faze the Vikings when they are at home, where they went 8-0. This team is built for speed and artificial turf, which is why not only did Minnesota score a league-record 556 points, but an opportunistic defense helped the Vikings gain their plus-14 turnover ratio. The Cardinals are playing the team-of-destiny role and know they have nothing to lose. But Arizona just does not match up well with the Vikings.

CB Aeneas Williams will likely lock up on WR Randy Moss, and that's a good matchup, but how does Arizona stop the other cannons? Besides Moss, there is Cris Carter, a healthy Jake Reed, and WR Matthew Hatchette, who has 15 catches for 216 yards in his last four games. Then, if the air force stalls, Minnesota goes to the ground with Robert Smith. It is one thing for the Cardinals to beat up on an old and gimpy Dallas team, but the Vikings are hungry, fast, and relentless.

Notable: Cardinals are 7-1 in games decided by three points or fewer, an NFL record for wins in that situation. Vikings' John Randle is one of four NFL players with seven consecutive 10-sack seasons.


CARDINALS: Probable: T James Dexter (ankle); S Kwamie Lassiter (knee); LB Tony McCombs (knee); LB Ronald McKinnon (knee); TE Johnny McWilliams (hamstring); WR Eric Metcalf (thigh); WR Rob Moore (hamstring); WR Frank Sanders (knee).

VIKINGS: Questionable: CB Ramos McDonald (back). Probable: TE Greg DeLong (ankle); WR Jake Reed (back); C-G Everett Lindsay (knee).

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