Playoff football. Thank goodness. O, blessed entertainments... commence!

The first couplet of games come to us from the still sun-kissed southwestern parts of the nation: Arizona and San Diego. Non-wintry wintertime excitement ahoy!

* Atlanta vs Arizona
Saturday, January 3, 1:30 PM PST
Wild Card 2009
The N00bs' Battle

The Arizona Cardinals haven't been in the playoffs since 1998. The oldest franchise in the NFL has seen a lot of suffering over the last couple decades, shackled to a notorrriously penny-pinching ownership. Things have turned around in last five years as the Bidwell family has opened up the pursestrings. Brand new stadium and hiring Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt from PIT as steps toward an actual long term solution have seen the Cards grow from doormat to sleeper to () this year's NFC West champs.

There has never been a home playoff game in Arizona. Ever. This is new territory for these guys.

Atlanta has been subjected to a full cold custom restart of their team. The issues faced by the Falcons have been positively outrageous: QB Mike Vick's incarceration, Head Coach Bobby Petrino disgraceful mid-season defection. As bad a level of organizational chaos as could be imagined.

Now to have this team playoff-bound with a rookie Head Coach and a rookie quarterback is as ridiculous a storyline as were the problems that the franchise overcame in 2008. Impossible to shoot a movie about this year's Falcons, though: too unrealistic.

And now, these two unaccustomed-to-success teams meet in the postseason, the big stage, the playoffs. Expect lots of jitters on both sides.

Photos via the Associated Press