The Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs provides us with all rematches from regular season matchups. The Baltimore-Tennessee game will provide us with a hard hitting physical game that will most likely go down to the wire and the Arizona- Carolina game will supply the offensive firepower and most likely mismatch of the weekend. Lets Get To The Picks.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT TENNESSEE TITANS -3
BALTIMORE NEEDS TO: have Joe Cool behind center, not a rattled rookie quarterback. Joe Flacco needs to continue to throw the ball away when nothing is open. This might not be the best for his stat line at the end of the day, but it sure is effective when you got a defense like Baltimore’s watching your back. The Raven’s running game just has to continue its production, as establishing it is always key for Baltimore. The Ravens are 4th in the NFL in rushing yards per game and first in rushing attempts, but they are still 25th in the league in yards per carry. This shows how important committing to the run is for the Baltimore offense.
On defense Baltimore needs to confuse Kerry Collins into turnovers, and continue to do a great job stopping the run. They are going to need to disguise their pass rushers as Tennessee does a tremendous job preventing sacks, as they have only allowed 11 all year.
TENNESSEE NEEDS TO: Take their anger out on Baltimore and Protect Kerry Collins. You know Tennessee has more bulletin board material then any other team this weekend, as they are the home team that almost every so-called expert is picking against. Collins needs to use his tight ends as weapons, as they may be the only reliable source for offensive output on the high impact plays. Albert Haynesworth and company need to prevent McClain and McGahee from gaining major yards on the run and the key will be to continue the run stuffing for all 4 quarters, as Baltimore is known to run the ball a lot better in the 4th quarter.
PREDICTION: In their meeting during the regular season neither quarterback was sacked. I would be shocked to see that happen again as both defenses are going to be revved up for this one. The question is which quarterback is going to try to force throws, and make the big mistakes. Tennessee is going to come out ready and with a big chip on their shoulder, introducing Flacco to a real road atmosphere in the Playoffs. Look for Tennessee to score an early TD and hold a close lead throughout the game, but that Baltimore defense is going to force that key takeaway late in the game, and their running game will be stronger in the 4th quarter. Matt Stover will hit the winner. Baltimore 22-20.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS -9.5
ARIZONA NEEDS TO: bring that home adrenaline to Carolina to have a shot in this match up. The Cardinals need to get that balance working that they had vs Atlanta. If Boldin can’t go then Breaston is going to need to step his game up. Arizona is going to look to star receiver Larry Fitzgerald to take Boldin’s place in the redzone offense.
The defense is going to need to force Delhomme into gunslinger passing mode by taking away the running game. But this is much easier said then done. Efficient Tackling is also a must for Arizona. The Cardinals cant let Panther playmakers break tackles and break the big plays.Arizona needs to contain the run and handle Steve Smith at same time. And the key to Zona’s chances is forcing turnovers. They need to pick off Delhomme at least twice to have a shot in this one.
CAROLINA NEEDS TO: continue their momentum and great home field play. The Panthers have to maintain keeping their strong offense balanced. Their mix of run and pass is deadly as they have great playmakers in DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith. Their ability to break tackles and make defenders miss is a major threat to any defense that lines up across from them. The defense needs to apply pressure to break Warner’s rhythm. It should be easier to contain this passing offense due to the absence of Anquan Boldin.
PREDICTION: I can’t see Arizona all of a sudden traveling well. Carolina is going to come out running with DeAngelo Williams and throwing to Steve Smith. They are just going to be too much for Arizona as their balance provides too tough of a task for the Cardinal’s defense. DeAngelo will score twice and Delhomme will throw for 2, as this game will be over by the end of the 3rd quarter. Carolina 36-19