While many love the Super Bowl and all they hype it brings – and others love the 4 game format of Week 2’s NFL Playoffs – the Conference Championships are my absolute favorite time of the year in the NFL. Don’t take that as to mean that I have the perfect drop on games in Week 3 of the NFL Playoffs, but take it from me, there is no better time to sit down and watch football then AFC/NFC Championship Sunday. There are 2 games instead of 1, and while the Super Bowl often disappoints or is a blowout (though not recently) – these games are often tight and full of fireworks. Plus, there’s something about the right to go to the Super Bowl – that’s what these guys are fighting for. That’s the difference between Week 2 and Week 3 – Week 3’s winners face off in the final game – so 4 teams are playing for the Super Bowl – just one win away. It’s as good as it gets. Anyway, that’s enough about that – I rocked it up last week, finishing a Giants win away from a perfect week. But 3-1 will have to do as my playoff record moves to 5-3 overall. Here are my picks for this Sunday’s NFL action.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have been awesome. They beat a very good Atlanta Falcons team that everybody (including myself) thought would oust Arizona from post-season play. Then the Cardinals walked into Carolina, where the over-hyped and overrated Panthers hadn’t lost a game all season long, and Arizona won easily in a landslide over the Panthers. Now Arizona hosts the Eagles as the two worst records in the NFC Playoffs face-off for a chance to meet the AFC’s best in the Super Bowl. Brilliant. The Eagles ousted the run-heavy Vikings in an ugly game. Then they stepped onto New York’s home-field for the second time this season and made it two of two against the defending champs, this game meaning more than the last. And now they are headed to Arizona trying for their 3rd straight road playoff win in as many chances. I have to admit, I didn’t think either of these teams would make it past Week 1. And I also have to admit, I think the road team wins again on Sunday. The Eagles haven’t had much trouble with teams that don’t run effectively, and I don’t think Arizona will do much running against the Eagles. With a very good secondary that has really come together, Philadelphia feasts on drop back passers and they make plays on balls in the air. Edge has been better and Hightower has some power and speed, but the Eagles won’t have much to worry about in the run department from the Cardinals, and that gives this game to Philly.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-5): Unlike the first game on Sunday, these are the two teams I expected to be around this late. I liked Baltimore to trounce the Dolphins (and they did) and I liked them to pull out a tight one against the Titans (and they did). I also liked the Steelers to dominate the Chargers (and if they did anything, they dominated). So if you can add, “One and one and one is three” I’m feeling pretty smart if you know what I mean! Okay, enough butchering great music – back to business. If you’re one of my trusty followers, you know exactly how I feel about betting against teams that should have lost last week and won. I love to go against those clubs. The Ravens are a prime example of that. If it weren’t for some freak fumbles, a missed field goal, and a poorly thrown pick in the red-zone, the Titans would have taken this game easily. I know the Ravens are a turnover causing group – but Tennessee played a majority of the game in Baltimore’s territory. The leading passer was Kerry Collins, – he had 281 yards to Flacco’s 161. The leading rusher was Chris Johnson (and he only played for 2 quarters) with 72 yards, and LenDale White’s 45 yards was only 5 yards less than Baltimore’s entire rushing output on Sunday. The Ravens found a way to win – they obviously have the will to do so, but it will catch up with them this week. They’ve played 17 straight weeks heading into this weekend’s contest. The Steelers have had the benefit of two bye weeks during that time. The Steelers defense is at least as good as Baltimore’s group, they are more fresh, playing at home, and privy to a better offense to help them out. I like the Steelers in this one, despite the big spread.
Good luck this week my loyal readers! And Enjoy the BEST SUNDAY IN FOOTBALL!