NFL Divisional Playoff Preview and Picks

Benjy MillerContributor IJanuary 7, 2009

We have divisional playoffs this weekend. Eight great teams are in. A couple great teams have been left out. Last weekend, Arizona defeated the Falcons at home, San Diego defeated the red-hot Indianapolis Colts at home, Baltimore gave Miami a home playoff loss, and the Philadelphia Eagles stopped the Vikings from going any farther than their own backyard. It was a very exciting wild card week, but the divisional playoffs are this week. Which means better teams facing better teams. It gets a lot harder now.

Game 1: Baltimore (11-5) at Tennessee (13-3)

The Baltimore Ravens are quite the hot team right now. The Tennessee Titans are coming off of being shut out by the Indianapolis Colts, who got knocked out by the Chargers last weekend. Both of these teams are superb.

The Ravens have just an amazing defense, they can stop almost anything. But can they stop the duo of LenDale White and Chris Johnson? Or will quarterback Kerry Collins give the Ravens something they can't handle? Maybe the Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco will show everyone how dangerous rookies can be. 

My pick: Tennessee—They are just so dominant with everything they do. They beat the Ravens in October, I think they'll do it again.

Game 2: Arizona (9-7) at Carolina (12-4)

After clinching the NFC West a couple weeks ago, everyone thought the Cardinals would be out of it, having lost four of their last six games. They showed last weekend that they are all but out of it by defeating the Atlanta Falcons (11-5) at home. Now, the Carolina Panthers have just been so dominant this year. Everything they do, they do it with excellence. Can Pro Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner do what he did so well in the regular season? Or will Steve Smith and the Panthers continue taking teams out?

My pick: Carolina—Carolina is just so good this year, I don't think the Cardinals will be able to stop them, especially not at home.

Game 3: Philadelphia (9-6-1) at New York (12-4)

First of all, let me say, the Philadelphia Eagles have done what no one thought they could do, make the playoffs. The Eagles took out the Vikings last week and hope to move on to either Arizona or Carolina next week. One thing stands in their way though, and that is the No. 1 seed New York Giants.

The Eagles and the Giants know each other very well. They play in the same division, the NFC East. To make the playoffs, the Eagles had to beat the Giants at Giants Stadium, which they did. The Giants only lost once at home this year, that was to the Eagles. The Eagles need to step up their game to win this one. It'll be close.

My pick: Philadelphia—They've already beaten the Giants at home this year. If they play like they did against the Vikings, they will lose. Andy Reid needs to step up his game, which I think he will.

Game 4: San Diego (8-8) at Pittsburgh (12-4)

San Diego has also done the highly unlikely—make the playoffs. Now, San Diego's story is very interesting. They were down three games in their division, AFC West, with three games to go. Most everyone ruled them out. But then this crazy thing happened, they won two games, and the Broncos lost two games. So, the final game to be played happened to be between the Broncos and the Chargers, in San Diego. Long story short, the Chargers dominated that game, made the playoffs, and Mike Shannahan was fired.

Now the Steelers on the other hand, have been excellent all year. And now they have the AP Defensive Player of the Year, James Harrison. They've had him this whole year, but he was just given the honor. Personally, I think that will make him play harder, but maybe it's just me.

My pick: San Diego—I know, I know, I'm going with the underdog here. But the Chargers just have so much momentum, I think they could beat any team they face, even the Steelers.