Elite Eight


After a 2-2 wild card round, it’s time to go 4-0 in the divisional round. Since I screwed myself by letting my fandom get in the way by rooting for the Vikings last week, it is time to be more serious and have a perfect weekend.

BALTIMORE RAVENS @ TENNESSEE TITANS
SATURDAY
4:30 EST
Two great defenses and a game that most believe is a coin flip and it seems as though the majority is favoring the “hot” Baltimore Ravens. You just gotta love these “hot” teams that can so easily fool everyone. If they were truly the better team (like the Eagles) then they would have not had to play last week.

But instead they did and they beat up on a poor Miami team who might have deserved their postseason bid, they just weren’t really a postseason team. And now they are facing a rested Titans team that lost three games all season and already defeated Baltimore once this year after their rookie QB, Joey Flacco, did his best Brett Favre impression.

It will be a low scoring game, there is no doubt about that, but for as much credit as the Ravens defense gets, the Titans D is just as good, if not better than Baltimore’s. And when you look at the offenses, there is a clear edge to Tennessee’s.

It’s quite possible this game will come down to a field goal and if it does, you have to like the team with Rob Bironas who has the ability to knock one down from upper deck if needed. The better team will win this game. The team that has been the AFC’s best all season and the team that earned the No. 1 seed. It’s game over for the “hot” Ravens. Tennessee 17, Baltimore 14

ARIZONA CARDINALS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS
SATURDAY
8:15 EST
How this game gets the Saturday night timeslot is beyond me. This game is one where you turn it on and by the end of the first quarter you are either flipping through the channels or doing something else with the game on in the background.

Honestly, Arizona has no chance, at all. You can talk about their record in the the eastern timezone, or their road record, but what it comes down to is this. They don’t have a defense and they don’t have a running game.

The fact that the Cardinals won last week should be good enough for that franchise and they can build off it for the future, but right now they aren’t good enough to play on the same field as the Carolina Panthers.

Vegas has the Panthers favored by 10 and I’m not sure if it was 17 that people still wouldn’t take it. Unless Kurt Warner called up his buddies from the Greatest Show on Turf, then put a dome in Carolina with the turf from St. Louis, then acquired an NFL defense, the Cardianls don’t have a shot.

Carolina will be heading north for the NFC Championship, to a stadium they have already played in this season. Carolina 34, Arizona 13

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS
SUNDAY
4:45 EST
As I say almost every week on the site, if you come here frequently you know my thoughts on the San Diego Chargers organization. And it was by no surprise that they beat the Colts last week since I picked the Colts. It goes against the golden rule of picking against teams you openly despise, the same goes for players.

The Chargers have defied odds that would have Einstein and Newton puzzled. Coming back from a 4-8 record, needing to win out and also needing the Broncos to lose out. Then coming back to beat the Colts, winners of nine straight, to advance to Pittsburgh, a place where they lost by one point earlier this season. Not enough things could have gone right for the Chargers this season. Had the Broncos won a single game over the finals four weeks or had the Chargers lost one, we would all be laughing at their expense and Norv Turner would be sending out his resume to coaching vacancies. Instead they are about to play in Heinz Field in a game that was supposed to include the Colts and at 8-8, the Chargers are making many important people wonder if the NFL playoff system is greatly flawed.

But for Sunday’s game it’s tough. The Steelers have a great, arguably the best, defense in the entire league, but a shaky offense, which will be led by a quarterback two weeks removed from a concussion. When judging the Chargers offense and defense you might as well throw the stats and recent performances out the window because there is absolutely no way to know what San Diego team will show up.

I look at is this way. If I pick the Chargers to win, they will lose and if I picked them to lose, they will win, and I fully believe that. And there is no one that wants the Chargers to lose more than me except for every Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but I am going to go against everything I have said this entire season and pencil in the Chargers for the NFC Championship in Tennessee and I can’t believe I am saying this. Chargers 21, Steelers 17

Giants/Eagles preview coming Saturday.