The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Westbrook Coast Offense

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You know Adrian Peterson is gearing up for his first playoff appearance in the NFL. Let's hope for his sake he doesn't fumble it away. Clearly one of the league's premier backs and instant game-changers, Peterson's one big knock is that he puts the ball on the ground. Nine times to be exact this season. Go ahead, make your Ferris Bueller reference.

The Eagles defense will be looking to force a potentially overeager Peterson into making mistakes. Philadelphia is by far the more playoff-experienced team with a more playoff-experienced running back in Brian Westbrook. So I will side with the Eagles RB in this one, especially with a healthy Correll Buckhalter available to take the load off Westbrook and QB Donovan McNabb. In Philadelphia's roughest stretch this season - the memorable tie at Cincinnati and "bench"mark loss in Baltimore - Westbrook carried just 14 times in each game. Buckhalter touched the ball just four times combined in those contests. Buckhalter's first quarter injury against the Ravens was critical and it changed the Eagles game plan dramatically that day. The importance of his healthy return was quite visible against the Cowboys. His first-half performance vs. Dallas Sunday completely opened the flood gates and instilled tremendous confidence and swagger.

Now, this is not to say that Peterson's sidekick Chester Taylor isn't capable of game changing plays as well. Because he is and has proven Peterson's not the only productive man in the backfield. But I like the Westbrook/Buckhalter experience over Peterson/Taylor. I think they are less mistake prone and that could prove the huge difference in what I expect to be a close contest well into the fourth quarter. We'll see whose hands are entrusted with the ball down the stretch.

It will be Andy Reid against his former offensive coordinator Brad Childress in this one. It was Childress who used Westbrook so perfectly for years, including Philadelphia's Super Bowl run in '04. But it will be how Childress stops Westbook that could determine who will survive and advance.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  December 31, 2008; 6:07 AM ET  | Category:  Minnesota Vikings , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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