My friends, welcome to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Focus: The Baltimore Ravens
After securing a wild-card bid, the Ravens demolished the resurgent Dolphins. But it wasn't the offense that got the most highlights. Baltimore's defense showed why it has been feared in recent years. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have shown why the D wins championships, and put simply, they score points.
On offense, the Ravens are a running squad.
With one, and occasionally two deep threats, the Ravens will rely on their bread and butter: Willis McGahee. Giving him the ball, especially late in the game, will give him scoring opportunities. It will also open up the pass. Take out Bulluck and Haynesworth, and you will have lanes up the middle. Take out Bulluck and seal the outside, and you can run to the edge.
Give it to Flacco, and he can throw or run.
X-Factor: The Ravens' D
Keep them in check, win the game. Take chances, give turnovers, lose the game. Ed Reed will be all over, and the linebackers will be looking for hits on LenDale White and Chris Johnson all day.
Focus: The Tennessee Titans
A 13-3 record. Amazing defense. Methodical offense.
Chris Johnson and LenDale White combine for an amazing 1-2 punch. Thunder and Lightning have been doing it all season. Get the lead, put it away. Again and again and again.
Collins is a seasoned veteran who has seen it all. He's the Anti-Favre. He has been in the league for years, however, he is a pocket quarterback. Not too much improvisation.
On defense, they are astounding. To say defense wins championships, this team qualifies, and that's an understatement.They pass the test with flying colors.
The secondary is a bunch of hard-hitting ball-hawks who can force the play when it's needed.
The D-Line is headed by Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden-Bosch (both of which are back from injury). Look for BIG pressure on Joe Flacco.
X-Factor: The Titans' D-Line
If Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden-Bosch can be effective, the Titans will have a much better chance at this game, and the secondary will have less pressure in coverage.
These two teams match up nicely, power versus power. The Titans are on a slump, though. They lost their last game in a heart-breaker versus Indianapolis. I don't think that it should be a problem, but momentum has proved invaluable in the post-season in recent years.
The Ravens are on the opposite side of the spectrum, they have all the momentum. They're on a roll and the defense is spectacular. This is just the time of year you want to be playing well, December and January and, hopefully, February.
My pick: I'm going to go with Baltimore in a close game, 17-14 on a last-second field goal from Matt Stover.
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