On paper, this matchup looks like a mismatch.
In one corner, you have a man who has allowed himself to be consumed with sports since he was a young boy. The husband catches as many NFL games as his second tier cable package will allow. He can tell you how a Tampa-Two defense is different than a regular Cover-Two.
In the other corner, the wife thinks that when a team uses a Cover-Two, that means they are only covering two people. She’s not big on the strategic intricacies of the game.
As they say, though, that’s why they play the game.
I’m not feeling very confident on this. There’s some history you should know about.
If there is one team that my wife is passionate about, it’s LSU football. She and I met at that great university and are both graduates.
Here’s a story about the only time my wife hit me.
Five years ago, we were attending the Florida-LSU game and standing in the LSU student section. Yes, we were standing.
It was the only game LSU lost that magical season. Just as the Gators went up two scores late in the fourth quarter, my wife (then girlfriend) ferociously threw down her LSU baseball cap in disgust.
As I bent down to pick it up for her, she punched me—right in the shoulder. The cap became bad luck to her.
At that moment, I knew I picked the right woman.
Just a little advice for you unmarried guys: Do not laugh when your significant other physically assaults you. In that situation, your laughter is not contagious. She will not laugh with you. She will only stare at you so intensely that she will burn a hole in your soul.
As poor college students during that same season, we could not afford but to watch the road games on TV. We decided to make small wagers on each road game to make things a little more interesting.
Since we would both be picking LSU to win all of its road games, I decided that we would predict the scores of each game and whoever was closest would receive a home cooked meal from the other.
I figured I had four meals coming my way. Sure, my wife knew enough about the basics of football to get through a game without asking me more than a question or two here or there, but I knew more about football than she even cared to know.
She beat me 3-1.
Now, here we are just over five years later. We’re going head to head in the divisional playoffs.
Baltimore at Tennessee
Baltimore dominated Miami last week. The defense forced five turnovers. Joe Flacco became the first rookie quarterback to win his first playoff game on the road.
Tennessee earned the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a style similar to Baltimore’s. They play defense tough and they use multiple running backs to establish one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL.
I like how the Ravens play football, especially with Ed Reed covering sideline to sideline. I don’t think, though, that they can win back to back physical road games, especially with a shortened week.
In reality, Tennessee has had two weeks extra to rest. They rested most of their starters in Week 17 against the Colts and had a bye last week.
The Titans should see the return of Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Wife’s pick: Tennessee. “They were undefeated for a while.”
Husband’s pick: Tennessee. They can match Baltimore’s physicality and are more rested. I’m not confident that Baltimore’s offense can make big plays if they absolutely need to.
San Diego at Pittsburgh
The Chargers beat the Colts at home in overtime, whether you agree with the circumstances or not. Darren “the tank” Sproles came up large for San Diego.
Philip Rivers is showing the world that he is becoming a big-time quarterback.
Pittsburgh played one of the hardest schedules in the NFL and still earned a first round bye. The Steelers have the best defense and the best defensive player in the NFL.
The Steelers beat the Chargers 11-10 earlier this season in a hard-fought game.
Wife’s pick: Pittsburgh. One of her bosses is from Pittsburgh and looks very much like Big Ben.
Husband’s pick: San Diego. This looks to be another game of field position and the Chargers’ Mike Scifres is a much better punter than the Steelers’ Mitch Berger. San Diego has a better running game than Pittsburgh and the sub-freezing temperatures may actually benefit them.
Philadelphia at New York
Is there any doubt that Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb belong in Philadelphia? There isn’t anymore—at least until Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles' defense held down a one-dimensional Vikings offense in the wild-card round. Now they face a Giants team with a little more balance in theirs.
Brian Westbrook showed that he is the best offensive player for the Eagles when he took a short screen pass and turned it into a 71-yard touchdown.
The Giants have the best running game in the NFL. Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward can explode for big games against anyone.
Say what you want about Eli Manning, but he did play well in the playoffs last year in leading the Giants to the Lombardi trophy.
Wife’s pick: Philadelphia. She doesn’t like Eli because, “he went to Ole Piss.” Her words, not mine. Remember, she’s a passionate LSU fan. Don’t kill the messenger.
Husband’s pick: Philadelphia. I think the Eagles played better down the stretch, including beating New York on the road a month ago. This is the team against which the Giants will miss Plax.
Arizona at Carolina
I was shocked not only that Arizona won last week, but how they won. The worst rushing team in the league ran the ball effectively against the Falcons.
The defensive line lived in Atlanta’s backfield. The biggest play of the game was when Antrel Rolle scooped up a fumbled hand off and returned it for a touchdown less than a minute into the second half.
Carolina’s running game is better than the Atlanta attack Arizona saw in round one. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 30 rushing touchdowns.
It’ll be interesting to see if Julius Peppers can perform better against the Cardinals than John Abraham did last week. Abraham, the third leading sacker in the NFL, was held to just two tackles against Arizona. He did not record a sack.
Wife’s pick: Carolina. “I like Jake Delhomme.” FYI: Jake Delhomme, a Breaux Bridge, LA native and ULL graduate, is seen as a local hero here in southwestern Louisiana.
Husband’s pick: Carolina. Steve Smith is the most difficult receiver in the league. He gets off the line as well as anyone. Arizona won’t be able to match Carolina’s physical play.