|NFL Divisional Playoffs Picks and Predictions For Saturday & Sunday January 10 & 11|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Saturday, 10 January 2009 14:17|
NFL Playoff Picks
The second round of the NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with four divisional round matchups.
Our team of writers and handicappers hand out picks and predictions for every divisional round matchup this week.
Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Tennessee Titans (12-4), 4:30 PM ET
The Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens have had two memorable meetings in the postseason and as two of the top defenses in the NFL prepare to meet again, there's no reason to believe this time will be any different.
Tennessee begins its playoff run on Saturday in Nashville with a divisional-round game against Baltimore, as another chapter is written in the heated rivalry between the two.
The AFC's top-seeded Titans start what they hope will be a journey to the Super Bowl after finishing the regular season 13-3 to clinch home-field advantage in the playoffs. That spot, however, hasn't been favorable to Tennessee in the past. In 2000, after a 13-3 season, it was also the top seed but lost to the Ravens. Baltimore eventually went on to beat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
The Titans got some revenge three years later as a wild card team, beating the AFC North division winners in the first round.
Both teams were eager to distance themselves from those matchups.
Tennessee and Baltimore have split the 18 all-time meetings between the two. The Titans have won three of the last four, but five of the last six games have been decided by less than a touchdown.
Arizona Cardinals (9-7) at Carolina Panthers (12-4), 8:00 PM ET
The Eastern time zone hasn't been very friendly to the Arizona Cardinals. The Carolina Panthers couldn't be more comfortable in their home just 200 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
The Panthers look to improve to 9-0 at home by beating the Cardinals in Charlotte for the second time this season as the teams square off Saturday night for the chance to advance to the NFC championship game.
Carolina tied for the best regular-season record in the NFC at 12-4, thanks in large part to its first undefeated record at home since 1996. The Panthers won their eight games at Bank of America Stadium by an average of 15.4 points.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, went 0-5 in the East, losing to Washington, the New York Jets, Carolina, Philadelphia and New England by an average of 20.0 points. They are 2-20 in their last 22 games in the Eastern time zone.
The closest the Cardinals (10-7) came to a victory along the East Coast was their 27-23 loss to the Panthers on Oct. 26. Trailing 24-23 in the fourth quarter, Arizona drove to the Carolina 15-yard line before Kurt Warner's pass was intercepted by Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason. The Cardinals led 17-3 early in the third quarter of that game.
Warner threw for 381 yards, the most allowed by the Panthers until they gave up 386 to New Orleans' Drew Brees in their regular-season finale.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1) at New York Giants (12-4), 1:00PM ET
The New York Giants defied doubters and the odds last season, getting hot late in the year and riding that momentum to a stunning Super Bowl title despite entering the NFC playoffs as the fifth seed.
The Giants should see something very familiar in this year's Philadelphia Eagles.
New York opens the playoffs Sunday with a divisional-round game against the red-hot Eagles, who despite being the last seed in the conference, should pose a formidable challenge for their NFC East rivals at Giants Stadium.
New York (12-4) stumbled somewhat at the end of the season, dropping three of its last four, although it managed to clinch the top seed in the NFC with an overtime win over Carolina on Dec. 21. That earned a much-needed first-round bye for the Giants, who opened the season 11-1 and weathered a brutal schedule while playing 13 straight games after their bye week.
The Giants have won three of the last four meetings and six of nine. The teams have only met three times in the playoffs, with the Eagles taking the most recent matchup 23-20 at home Jan. 7, 2007 in a wild-card game.
San Diego Chargers (8-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4), 4:30PM ET
San Diego's defense hung tough when threatened by the Pittsburgh Steelers in November. That type of resiliency has given the Chargers a rematch.
Another ineffective effort on offense for the Steelers isn't likely to be good enough this time against the streaking Chargers, who have advanced to this AFC divisional playoff game Sunday at Heinz Field even though LaDainian Tomlinson is doubtful for the game.
After a bye week, AFC North champion Pittsburgh (12-4) will face San Diego (9-8) for the first time since a game that embodied all of its ongoing concerns offensively.
The Steelers beat the Chargers 11-10 at Heinz Field on Nov. 16, but didn't score a touchdown despite making three trips inside San Diego's 20-yard line. One drive ended when Mewelde Moore was dropped for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from inside the 1, and Pittsburgh repeatedly hurt itself with 13 penalties.
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Posted: 1/10/08 7:15PM ET