Site Editor Matt Loede’s Divisional Picks This Weekend

Okay, now it’s time for the big boys to play, as we’re down to the final eight in the NFL. Last week I went 2-2 in my wild card predictions, and here we go with picks for the divisional playoffs.

Baltimore at Tennessee (-3)

The Ravens are coming to town with a lot of hype and momentum after their win in Miami over the overmatched Dolphins last Sunday. The Titans will be without All-Pro center Kevin Mawae, but should have defensive studs Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch back, which gives them a huge lift. I give the Titans the edge, as I think Joe Flacco is going to have a tough day vs that very good Titans defense, and it’s a known fact that rookie QB’s don’t usually fare well in the playoffs. This game is going to be much tougher than the Dolphins, and I think that the combo of Chris Johnson and LenDale White is going to have a good enough day to move the ball on the Ravens. Baltimore is best off trying to keep this close and forcing Kerry Collins to make a mistake late, but I think the vet plays it cool, Johnson and White play well, and the Titans D goes stride for stride with the Ravens D and pulls it out. Tennessee 16 Baltimore 10

Arizona at Carolina (-9.5)

The Cards head out east, where they simply don’t play well, giving the big advantage to the Panthers. Look for the Panthers combo of backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to give Carolina a decided edge in this one. The Cards will look to keep it close by protecting Kurt Warner and throwing a lot against that Panthers pass D. I don’t like the matchup here for the Cards, as they did play the Panthers tough the first time around, but I think this time with the Cards playing last week while the Panthers sat back gives them a big advantage. Look for that Panthers D to control the action, and for them to control Warner enough to move on to the NFC Title game. Carolina 29 Arizona 17

Philadelphia at New York Giants (-4)

The weather is expected to be frightful for this NFC East clash, and it’s going to only make this game even more interesting. Both these teams are hard hitting, and the Eagles are the one team that the Giants didn’t want to see in the playoffs, as they just seem to have New York’s number. This game very well could come down to the running backs, which is where I think the G-Men have the edge with Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. Brian Westbrook is not 100 percent (is he ever?), but should be close enough to be a big part of the Eagles offense. The snowy and freezing weather could be the story of the day, but I think in the end every time you count the Giants out, they play a big game, and I think the same happens here with just enough to knock the Eagles out. New York Giants 14 Philadelphia 13

San Diego at Pittsburgh (-6)

The last time they played it was 11-10 Steelers, but the score didn’t tell the story of the game. The Steelers put up over 400 yards of offense, while the Chargers were held to just over 200 yards. The Steelers had 13 penalties on them, as all day long they shot themselves in the foot. Won’t happen this time, as they are as close to healthy as they have been all year, while the Chargers are banged up with L.T. doubtful and Antonio Gates at 50-50. The Steelers defense will keep San Diego in check, while their offense will do enough to score a couple of times and put themselves in Tennessee for the AFC Title game next weekend. Pittsburgh 21 San Diego 10

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