I wound up splitting my predictions from the wild card round with Sunday’s games falling as planned while Saturday’s resulted in disappointment. I did pick the correct score of the Colts-Chargers game; I just picked the wrong winner, though. Last week, I went with all the road teams, but this week I feel the games will turn out a bit different.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 2-2
This Week: 1-3
Baltimore (12-5) at Tennessee (13-3)
If you like defense, you’ll love this game. Perhaps two of the NFL’s finest units will battle in what should be a low-scoring game. The Ravens (No. 3) and Titans (No. 6) both held opponents to under 100 yards rushing per game in the regular season. The Ravens only allowed 179 passing yards per game in the regular season, however, that shouldn’t bother the Titans, who don’t pass very often, anyway. What Tennessee can’t do is turn into a one-dimensional team, though. I think their aging quarterback and mediocre receiving corps will do just enough to help the Titans advance to the conference championship.
Prediction: Tennessee 17, Baltimore 10
Actual Score: Baltimore 13, Tennessee 10
Arizona (10-7) at Carolina (12-4)
The last time these teams met, Arizona nearly beat the Panthers in Week 8 of the regular season. However, although the venue was the same then as it will be this week, these were hardly the same teams. Arizona was playing much better football at that point than they have been in the latter half of the season. They also are running the football better now than they were then as their ground game fueled their victory over Atlanta last week. Carolina’s run defense did not fare much better than Atlanta’s did in the regular season, but I think they’ll have an easier time stopping Arizona than the Falcons did. I like the Panthers to defend their home field and punish the Cardinals with their bruising run game.
Prediction: Carolina 27, Arizona 17
Actual Score: Arizona 33, Carolina 13
Philadelphia (10-6-1) at New York Giants (12-4)
I was obviously rooting hard for — and pleased with — the Eagles last week against the Vikings. It’s nice to see somebody put Minnesota in its place. This week, although Philadelphia has been playing some of its best football the past two weeks, I think they might run into a rested and more well-rounded Giants team on New York’s quest to defend it’s Super Bowl title. With three weeks of rest for Brandon Jacobs — who sat out against Minnesota in the regular season finale — I think the Giants’ three-headed running back monster will wear down the Eagles allowing New York to advance to the conference championship.
Prediction: New York Giants 27, Philadelphia 23
Actual Score: Philadelphia 23, New York Giants 11
San Diego (9-8) at Pittsburgh (12-4)
If this week’s Chargers-Steelers game resembles the regular season version in Week 11, we could be in a for a good treat. Although, that’s if you like low-scoring defensive slugfests like I do. I think we’ll see a little higher score but with the same result, a close Pittsburgh victory. It’s not always who the best team is that counts, sometimes it’s all about who’s playing the best football at this time of the year, and San Diego has won five in a row including knocking off the previously hot Indianapolis Colts last week. However, if LaDainian Tomlinson doesn’t play, the Chargers could be in over their heads. There’s only so much that mighty mouse, Darren Sproles, can do against one of the NFL’s best run defenses.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, San Diego 14
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 35, San Diego 24