So … about last week. Yeah, not my finest hour, though I went into those games thinking Eli Manning wouldn’t tank, the Titans would actually hold onto the ball and the Cardinals would be the Cardinals. I mean, seriously, nobody picked against Carolina. Not even Rod Tidwell picked the Cards last week. But enough attempts to excuse my bad picks, lets look forward to this week’s Conference Championship games.
This week’s duo of games suck to predict. One features two teams meeting for the third time this season, with the previous two games both being extremely close contests. In the other game, the Arizona Cardinals host an unpredictable Philadelphia Eagles team. It’s a cliché, but both games really could go to either team, because they really are that open. But we shall take a shot regardless. At the very worst, you’ll get some rad YouTube videos out of this.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, 2 p.m. on FOX
Arizona will host an NFC Championship game … I don’t believe this is actually happening.
How the Eagles can win – No team gets this far without being good, obviously, but this Philly team has also been extremely lucky. In the first round they had the fortune to play a very flawed Vikings team missing several of its best defensive players. Last week, the Eagles were lucky that Giants QB Eli Manning had a very meh game and Big Blue turned the ball over three times. Add the fact that Plaxico Burress got a little too excited during the Cha Cha Slide in November and it’s no wonder the E-A-G-L-E-S are where they are now. This week, Philly will need to kick it up a notch offensively on the road against a very hot team. Running back Brian Westbrook, who only managed 36 yards rushing against New York, must return to the form he showed the first time the Eagles played Arizona, when the D.C. native ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns. That Thanksgiving game turned around Philly’s season. If Andy Reid’s squad can use the same game plan they did on Turkey Day, the Eagles should be in good shape. If nothing else, karma seems to be on the side of the City of Brotherly Love. After all, it has been just a few months since the Phillies won the World Series.
YouTube video related to the Philadelphia Eagles – Remember when it was cool for NFL teams to make rap videos? Here is Philadelphia’s 1988 attempt.
How the Cardinals can win – Did you see how great Arizona’s defense was against Carolina? They picked off QB Jake Delhomme five times and held DeAngelo Williams (the NFL’s third-highest rusher) to a scant 63 yards (albeit on only 12 carries). If the Cardinals defense can shut down Brian Westbrook and put pressure on Donovan McNabb, they will win their first NFC Championship, ever. Oh, an even scarier thought? Arizona’s great wideout Anquan Boldin will play in Sunday’s game after sitting out last week’s game, meaning Kurt Warner now has two fantastic receivers to throw to.
YouTube video related to the Arizona Cardinals – Kurt Warner draws a picture of God. Hey, it worked for Tim Tebow. Thanks Deadspin for originally posting this.
Prediction – I’m frightened to write this, but if Arizona plays like they did against Carolina, they will triumph over Andy Reid’s serial killer beard and … oh geez … be heading to the Super Bowl. 31-21, Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 5:30 p.m., Sunday on CBS
These division rivals have already met twice before, with the Steelers edging out the Ravens both times. Will Baltimore be bent on revenge, or does Pittsburgh just have their number?
How the Ravens can win – Baltimore killed Tennessee in the turnover battle, and that’s just what they have to do in the Conference Championship Game if they want to go to their second Super Bowl. They managed three turnovers over the course of the two earlier games against the hated Steelers, but they’ll probably need more than that Sunday to win. Quarterback Joe Flacco hasn’t been wowing on the stats sheet, but he rarely makes big mistakes and keeps his team in close games. It’s sort of reminiscent of another Ravens quarterback who led his team to the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
YouTube video related to the Baltimore Ravens – The best part of this Saturday Night Live cartoon is being reminded that Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl.
How the Steelers can win – Pittsburgh can’t rely on their running game (as they did against San Diego) versus Baltimore — the Ravens defense will snuff that out for sure. This game comes down to the play of Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He must avoid turnovers (he has 15 interceptions this season) and have an above-average offensive performance. The Pittsburgh defense — the best in the league — won’t disappoint, so it’s up to Big Ben to push his team into the Super Bowl.
YouTube video related to the Pittsburgh Steelers – People singing the Steeler’s fight song.
Prediction – Expect this game to be better than the actual Super Bowl, with Roethlisberger once again getting the Steelers just past Baltimore. 17-14, Steelers
There you have it. For all you people betting actual money (and who rely on the analysis of a college student to make your choices), go with the Eagles and Ravens. Just to be safe.