The NFL divisional playoff round is one of the best weekends of the year for football fans. And the Big East will be well-represented in key roles.
The league's influence could be felt last week. Baltimore's Ray Rice -- a Rutgers product -- ran for 159 yards and two touchdowns in a win over New England. Meanwhile, safety Ed Reed -- a Big East alumnus from Miami -- had an interception as part of the Ravens' dominating defensive effort. Rutgers' Jamaal Westerman and L.J. Smith are seeing time at linebacker and tight end, respectively.
Former Pitt star Larry Fitzgerald had six catches for 82 yards and two scores in Arizona's thrilling overtime victory over Green Bay last week. Another former Panther, cornerback Darrelle Revis, continued his stellar season with an interception and by shutting down Chad Ochocinco in the New York Jets' upset of Cincinnati. Louisville's Kerry Rhodes starts at safety for the Jets, who had the best pass defense in the NFL this year.
AFC No. 1 seed Indianapolis has several Big East players on its two-deep, including starting defensive end Dwight Freeney (Syracuse), starting linebacker Gary Brackett (Rutgers) backup running back Donald Brown (UConn) and backup defensive lineman Eric Foster (Rutgers). Pat McAfee, a rookie out of West Virginia, is the Colts' punter.
I'm probably missing somebody or somebodies. But clearly the Big East will have a big impact on this weekend's NFL games.