There's no reason to waste any time. Let's get right to the picks for the Divisional Round.
Last week: 3-1
TITANS (-3) over Ravens
This will be the popular upset pick of the week. The talk has been about how the Ravens are “built for the playoffs” because they have a strong running game and a great defense. Um, aren’t those the same two things that the Titans went an NFL-best 13-3 with? The Titans will pressure Joe Flacco all day long and win the battle in the trenches with the return of Albert Haynesworth to the lineup. The two teams met in Week 5, and the Titans pulled out a 13-10 win, in Baltimore. With the game in Nashville this time, the Titans will come out on top again.
PANTHERS (-10) over Cardinals
There is only one way the Cardinals can win this game, and that is if the Panthers are stupid enough to let them. As long as the Panthers stick to running the ball and keep Kurt Warner and crew off the field, this one shouldn’t even be close.
The Cardinals did manage to play Carolina to a 27-23 game earlier this year in Carolina, but that was before this Panthers team really found its swagger, and the Cards were playing their best football of the season. Despite a win last week, Arizona hasn’t resembled a good football team in about a month. Add in the fact that Boldin is questionable, and this game is likely to be over by halftime.
GIANTS (-4) over Eagles
This is probably the game that worries me most of the four. The Giants have looked vulnerable in the past few weeks, including a 20-14 loss to this very Eagles team, in New York. But when it comes down to it, the Giants are just the better team in almost every phase of the game; usually that results in wins in the playoffs. Also, I can’t trust Andy Reid further than I can throw him, and I couldn’t throw him anywhere, even with a comically oversized catapult.
STEELERS (-6) over Chargers
Nothing about this game looks good for the Chargers. The only thing they have going for them is their “hot streak,” which they built over a series of mostly mediocre teams and a Colts team that almost always underachieves in the playoffs. Thank God they lost so the idea of an all-Manning Super Bowl can be buried, along with the at-one-time-assumed All-New-York Super Bowl.
For this game, the Chargers are too banged up, and they have to travel all the way to the East Coast, and probably play in the snow. Here is what I said about the Chargers last week:
The Chargers will end up winning this game, just to make people in San Diego say things like, “It’s a whole new season” and “We just took a while to get started, but now we are the best team in the NFL.” Well, newsflash: you aren’t. You went 8-8 for a reason, and if you don’t lose this game, you’ll lose the next game, big.
And that’s still true. Chargers lose, and lose big.