Breaking Down the 2008-09 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

John StepnickCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2009

Saturday 4:30

In the first of four rematch games this week, Tennessee and Baltimore go Round 2 in Nashville. Both teams are looking to play smash-mouth football.
Tennessee boasts the best 1-2 punch at running back in the league with Chris Johnson and LenDale White. Baltimore counters with Le'Ron McClain and Willis MaGahee.
Look for McCalin to see the lion's share of carries against the physical Titans defense. Baltimore's defense needs no introduction, we all know what they bring to the table. They're going to play a punishing game and force turnovers. In the end, this game will be close, and I will be shocked if more than 2 TDs are scored by either offense.

Ian's Prediction: Tennessee 13-9

John's Prediction:

Saturday 8:15

Arizona gets another shot at Carolina, where they lost 27-23 at the end of October. A lot has happened since October, but one thing remains the same: Arizona is 0-5 in the Eastern Time Zone this year, and 3-5 on the road overall. Their 3 wins came against their divisional opponents, making them 0-5 against all road opponents outside their division.
On the other side, Carolina has been dominant at home, posting an 8-0 mark in the friendly confines of Bank of America Stadium. Arizona was able to handle Michael Turner and the Atlanta offense by forcing turnovers, and they're going to have to have a similar defensive performance if they want to stay with Carolina.
On the whole, Carolina's offense has a huge advantage with one of the best running back combos in the league and a passing game anchored by Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad. In their earlier matchup, Kurt Warner went off for 381 yards, but the Cardinals ground game was stifled.
On the other side, DeAngelo Williams ran for 108 yards while Delhomme threw for over 250. Look for a strong performance from Carolina's offense and Arizona to struggle on the road once again.

Ian's Prediction: Carolina 31-20

John's Prediction:

Sunday 1:00

The Giants and Eagles have played two fantastic games this year, which the teams split. In Round 3, to the victor go the spoils and the ticket to the NFC Championship game.
The Eagles know they can beat the Giants, and the Giants are still struggling to find a passing game without Plaxico. The Giants running game is good, but the Eagles boast a very good run defense. On the other side of the ball, the Giants have a solid defense all around, with defensive end Justin Tuck anchoring their pass rush.
This game will hinge on the Giants ability to protect Eli Manning against the Eagles blitzing defense and Brian Westbrook's ability to make plays in space out of the backfield.

Ian's prediction: Eagles 24-17

John's prediction:

Sunday 4:45

In the last rematch of the weekend, well...this game needs no introducing. We all know what's at stake here, and don't need any reminding about how cocky San Diego is. They are on top of the world now, riding their winning streak.
The Steelers need a big performance from the running game to keep the ball out of Ben's hands and need a solid defensive performance to keep Rivers and the Chargers off the field and off the scoreboard.

Ian's prediction: Steelers 24-17

John's prediction: