The wild card round is in the books and there were two “upsets” last weekend. (Of course, if you were reading here like a good sports fan, you would know that there was really only one upset.) However, I was shocked and stunned that the Falcons folded under the pressure like a deck of cards. But, it is one of the perils of a rookie QB.
This week’s match-ups obviously favor from the outset the teams who are not only at home but have had a week to rest up from injury. Without further ado, the NFC picks.
At the risk of having egg on my face for the second straight week, I am predicting the collapse of the Arizona Cardinals. I do not believe that Edgerrin James has another game in him like the one he had against Atlanta. However, the Panthers’ run defense was 18th in the league, so they will have to step up their game a bit. The 9th best pass defense will overwhelm Kurt Warner and his wide receivers and the panthers 3rd best rushing offense will take advantage of the porous Cardinal defensive line. Bottom line: Panthers by 7.
The Giants and Eagles will meet for the third time this season in a rubber match. Both teams won on the road, but can that happen in the playoffs? They say that defense wins in the playoffs, and on paper the eagles are better than the G-men. This game features two proven quarterbacks, although Eli Manning has been able to advance farther than Donovan McNabb. This game will likely come down to how successful the eagles are at running the ball. The giants run defense was not great this season and allowed 131 yards to Westbrook in their home loss on Pearl Harbor Day. A hail Mary pass on the vigil of the Immaculate conception was not enough that day and it won’t be enough for the Buressless giants in this game either. In a shocker, the Eagles by 1.
Over in the AFC the Steelers will take on the resurgent Chargers, who will likely be without LT for the entirety of the game. Sproles as his backup was more than adequate against the Colts. But that was the Colts. This is the mighty Steelers. If SD running game is thwarted and they have to rely on Phillip Rivers, Heinz field will be rocking this weekend. However, the nice thing for the Chargers is that Pittsburg comes into this came with the 8th worse offense in the league and a banged up Big Ben. Likely, even if the Steelers are dominating the charger offense, the offense will be able to stick with the running game because the Steelers won’t be able to run up the score. But the Steelers will in the end be too much for the Chargers. Steelers by 4-probably something like 13-9.
Finally, we come to the much-anticipated Titans and Ravens game. This has all the makings of a beauty. The home team with a veteran QB against one of the nation’s best defenses. The Titans looked vulnerable on a number of occasions this season. Look for the Ravens to exploit any of those vulnerabilities. However, you cannot underrate the Titan defense. 9th against the pass and 6th against the run, Joe Flacco will need to be very good and probably mistake free to keep the Ravens in this game. I do not believe the Ravens can win this game on defense alone. Home field advantage is big in the playoffs but the ravens have run off a string of upsets in the Music City and you will see another one on Saturday. Ravens by 3.
So we have the Panthers, Eagles, Steelers, and Ravens. We were 3-1 last week. Let’s see what the weekend brings.