Friday, January 9, 2009

NFL Divisional Round Predictions

The last great weekend of football is upon us. The Divisional Round is always the best round of the NFL playoffs because it's filled with teams that were good all season as well as teams that are getting hot at the right time. Every game here, with the possible exception of the Panthers/Cardinals game, should be low scoring and close. Arguments can be made for a number of possible scenarios to unfold. Here are my predictions of who will win. All picks are made without taking the spread into account.

Record Last Week: 3-1, .750

Saturday Games:

Ravens @ Titans
I keep going back and forth on this one. On the one hand, the Ravens have an incredibly deep and talented defense. On the other, they have a rookie quarterback who is bound to make some mistakes against the strong Titans defense. The Titans are well-rested and ready to go but the Ravens are red-hot and ready to pounce. One thing I can say for sure about this game is that it will be low-scoring and whoever turns it over less will win. I'm going to go with the Ravens simply because of the dominating defense. I might be underrating the Titans, who were so good for so long this season, but nothing about them gives me any confidence that they can win this one. My pick: Ravens

Cardinals @ Panthers
This is the easiest pick of the bunch. The Panthers are my pick to get to the Super Bowl out of the NFC so obviously I see them rolling against the Cardinals. Arizona simply has too many factors going against them here. They are terrible against the run, something the Panthers do better than almost anyone. The Cards are also going to the East Coast where they have been terrible this season. Anquan Boldin also looks unlikely to play. All of that adds up to a Panthers win. My pick: Panthers

Sunday Games:

Eagles @ Giants
I've been going back and forth on this one all week, too. The Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs and they were so dominant this season that it's hard to pick against them. The Eagles are getting hot at just the right time and it's hard to pick against them. Unfortunately, with the way the Eagles only squeaked out a win against the Vikings last week, it's hard for me to have much confidence in them. We do know that it will be a good, hard-hitting contest between two NFC East rivals and the Eagles defense should be able to contain the Giants running game as much as anyone possibly can. Part of me sees the Eagles marching down the field late in the game for a game-winning David Akers field goal while another part of me sees the Giants controlling the ball for most of the game and the Eagles trying to play catch-up and never quite getting there. The fan in me really, really, really wants to pick the Eagles but the realist in me has to go with the Giants. I hope I'm wrong! My pick: Giants

Chargers @ Steelers
The Chargers really surprised me in the way they played against the Colts. L.T. is pretty much out of the picture at this point but Darren Sproles more than proved that he is a capable backup. Unfortunately, I don't see Sproles doing much of anything against the Steelers defense. It's one thing to rip the Colts up for big gains and quite another to get past the Steel Curtain in the mucky grass at Heinz Field. The Steelers offense doesn't impress me much but they will do just enough to edge out the Chargers, setting up a Steelers/Ravens AFC Championship that will probably end with a score of 6-3. My pick: Steelers

Those are my picks, any thoughts or opinions?


Jason said...

I agree with all of the picks unfortunately. Watching DNL last night, and hearing a correspondent from SNY say that all the Giants practiced yesterday got me nervous. Although they did lose 3 out of their last 4 games, they weren't really necessary games to win, but will the Giants be able to turn it on as soon as the game starts?

If the Eagles are able to come out and get their offense going early, and the Giants are struggling to get back into gameshape, the Eagles have a good chance. If the Eagles sputter at the start of the game like has been the case most of this season, that would give the Giants time to find their gamelegs and would make it a much harder game to win. Unfortunately the 2nd scenario is what I see happening, and my prediction is Giants over Eagles 23-10. Like you said man, I hope I'm wrong, but I just think the Eagles that showed up against the Redskins show up this game, but man, I really hope I'm wrong!

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