Well, the first round of the 2008 NFL Playoffs is on the books. I got two out of four of my picks right, getting both wrong on Saturday but both unfortunately right on Sunday when the road teams dominated. Got the perfect call on the Ed Reed defensive TD, too!
First off, I just want to congratulate the Arizona Cardinals for not only proving me wrong but for successfully defending home field advantage. They refused to go out like an 8-8 flop and doubled their franchise playoff win total, which now stands at two.
Too bad they still don't (and won't) get the respect they deserve. That will only happen if they beat Carolina which I don't think will happen. But they should have the best chance of any of the games this weekend, so you never know.
The way Tennessee finished the season—getting blown out 23-0 to the Colts in week 17 and losing two of their last three—is not the way I'd want to be backing into the playoffs.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: If I were anyone, I'd want to be playing the Titans this weekend. With the fact that this matchup now includes the Baltimore Ravens and their steady and dominating D, I really like the Ravens' chances.
Joe Flacco will ho-hum his way through another sleepy game where the defensive does all the work and he gets the same amount of credit simply because he "doesn't make mistakes."
Give me a 300-yard game once, just once. Or how about a four-TD day, Joe?
(NOTE: Ed Reed will get another TD and I also like Haloti Nata's chances.)
Ravens 20 Titans 7
8:15PM EST Arizona @ Carolina
Arizona doesn't travel east well, we all know that. While last week's win was surprising, I expect Steve Smith to have his usual monster game with eight receptions, 169 yards, and one very long TD, mixed with another one of those ridiculous leaping catches between two defenders.
Heck, he may even do a reverse run or two and don't forget the punt returns. Arizona will probably keep this interesting through halftime, but the Panthers should crack 100 yards rushing with Smash and Dash (DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart).
Carolina 24 Arizona 13
Philly does this every year—win a game or two and lose in the NFC Championship.
So why are we surprised they made it this far? Under Andy Reid's tenure the Eagles have won the opening round game in all seven years he's led them to the playoffs. Look it up.
Only this year they won't get that far as the Giants Ravenesque D and timely Flacco-like passing by Eli Manning will put this game away early. Mix in the usual 100+ yards running from Jacobs and Ward and this could get ugly.
Giants 34 Eagles 21
Probably the easiest call of the weekend, even though I'd love to see it go the other way.
No one beats Pittsburgh at home and the playoffs don't seem right without the Steelers in it and hosting a playoff game. With their D (notice a theme?), and their Flacco-like QB in Big Ben (cough*theme*cough), mixed with the improbable weather should keep it low-scoring.
Pittsburgh 17 San Diego 9
Just for Fun
Ed Reed: 1 TD
Haloti Nata: 1 TD
Brandon Jacobs: 119 yards, 1 FUM
Donovan McNabb: 3 INT (one by Michael Johnson)
Brian Westbrook: 68 total yards
Pittsburgh: 7 sacks
Lamar Woodley: 1 TD