2008 NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Tennessee Titans over Baltimore Ravens

Everyone seems to have jumped on the Ravens bandwagon since their throttling of the Miami Dolphins last weekend in the Wildcard game. And that is understandable. The Ravens have the toughest, meanest, ball hawkingest defense other than Pittsburgh. They also, finally, have a quarterback that can actually get the offense moving and score some points.

Earlier this year the Ravens lost a close game to the Titans, 13-10. They should have won that game. Here is what I said after that game:

[The Ravens] basically outplayed the Titans for the most part and got robbed on a terrible roughing the passer call on Terrell Suggs near the end of the game that gave Tennessee the opportunity to kick the winning field goal. That awful call and a missed field goal by Matt Stover at the end of the first half basically were the difference in the game. . . The Ravens offensive line also did a good job of not letting the stellar defensive line of the Titans dominate the game. In fact, the Titans defensive ends were mostly a non-factor. Ray Lewis is playing like he did a few years ago. He seems to have found a fountain of youth somewhere. The Ravens defense is tremendous. While this team may be 2-2, I think they will improve over the year. Their biggest weakness is their banged up running backs, no true number one receiver, a banged up Todd Heap, and a rookie quarterback. Their defense will have to make up for their offensive weakness the rest of the year.

So the question is, with the Titans having a banged up defense and center Kevin Mawae possibly out, why in the world am I picking the Titans to win this game? The answer is I don’t really know other than a gut feeling that being at home, with an experienced quarterback, and two solid running backs, should give the Titans a slight edge. The way they dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers at home late in the season also factors into my thinking. The Titans have some depth at defense themselves and a solid, if bland, offense.

This should be a competitive, closely contested game. The Ravens have an underrated offensive line and their defense could take them to the Super Bowl. If Mawae is out that could be a monster blow the Titans as DT Haloti Ngata is a beast. But I think the Titans will edge the Ravens out at home.

Carolina Panthers over Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals play awful on the road and they face a tougher defense than they did last week. I just don’t see the Cardinals duplicating last week’s effort against the Panthers. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get blown out. But the Cardinals shouldn’t be counted for dead. Even with Anquan Boldin out, if their defense steps up to the plate and they actually try to run the ball a bit, they might cover the spread.

New York Giants over Philadelphia Eagles

New York is not going to lose the Eagles at home. The Eagles barely beat Minnesota last week and they are not nearly as good as the Giants. I see McNabb throwing up a few picks and the Giants winning this one in a blowout.

Pittsburgh Steelers over San Diego Chargers

This is certainly an interesting rematch and it could very well turn into another defensive slugfest like the Steelers 11-10 win earlier in the season. This should be a close competitive game, but if Big Ben doesn’t make the Big Mistakes by holding on to the ball too long and taking sacks, I expect a repeat of the last game with the Steelers scoring a few more points for a close win.

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