The 2009 NFL playoffs continue to be surprising! The Titans demonstrated that having several weeks off (especially if you include the final game of the season against Indy when Coach Fisher sat his starters for most of the game), does not help scoring from the red zone against a stiffling defense such as the Baltimore Ravens. The Titans lost a close contest to the Ravens 13-10, although they had a number of opportunities to win the game. The defending Super Bowl champs, the New York Giants, also are going home much earlier than expected after falling 23-11 to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only team coming off of a bye-week in fact, to survive to the next round by defeating the San Diego Chargers, 35-24.
NFL Playoff Schedule
Jan. 3, 2009:
Arizona Cardinals 30, Atlanta Falcons 24
San Diego Chargers 23, Indianapolis Colts 17
Jan. 4, 2009:
Baltimore Ravens 27, Miami Dolphins 9
Philadelphia Eagles 26, Minnesota Vikings 14
Jan. 10, 2009:
Baltimore Ravens 13, Tennessee Titans 10
Arizona Cardinals 33, Carolina Panthers 13
Jan. 11, 2009:
Philadelphia Eagles 23, New York Giants 11
Pittsburgh Steelers 35, San Diego Chargers 24
January 18, 2009: Conference Championships
Feb. 1: Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
AFC Conference Championship Preview and Prediction for January 18th
Games listed are based on the new tie-breaking procedures found here!
Sunday 18 January 2009 at Heinz Field, 630pm (Shown on CBS)
Baltimore Ravens (11-5, 2-0) at the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4, 1-0)
Baltimore is coming into the AFC championship game having beaten two division champs on the road in successive weeks. Riding a strong defense, the Raven’s quarterback Jeff Flaco has managed the ballgame in each victory with minimal errors, producing just enough offense to get the job done. Although the Ravens did have a number of breaks in the game against the Titans, Tennessee just could not get the job done in order to win the game. Baltimore comes into the AFC championship having lost both contests against Pittsburgh this season by a combined seven points.
Ben Roethlisberger went 17-26 for 181 yards and a touchdown to lead the Steelers over the San Diego Chargers 35-24. The Steelers ground attack was also clicking against San Diego with Willie Parker gaining 146 yards on 27 carries and two TDs in the opening game of the playoffs for the Steelers. The Steelers are 11 – 1 in division playoff games played at home since 1970 and are showing a remarkably improved offense after slumping somewhat at the end of the season to complement their extremely strong defense. Pittsburgh will look to build on the successes of the offense against the Chargers when North division rival Baltimore comes into town next weekend.
Baltimore enters the AFC championship as 5 point underdogs against the Steelers. With a healthy Roethlisberger and Parker, look for Pittsburgh to win and cover the spread. Final score prediction: Pittsburgh 21 – Baltimore 9.
NFC Conference Championship Game Preview and Prediction for January 18th
Sunday 18 January 2009, at the University of Phoenix Stadium, 3pm (Shown on Fox)
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6-1, 2-0 ) at the Arizona Cardinals (9-7, 2-0)
Philadelphia enters their fifth NFC championship game in eight years after coming off of a huge win over the defending champion, New York Giants, 23-11. The Eagles also have significantly beaten the Cardinals approximately 6 weeks agao, 48-20. Entering the game against the Cardinals, Donovan McNabb had a decent game going 22-40 for 217 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs and was hit for an intentional grounding call in the Eagle endzone that resulted in a safety. Despite his mistakes, McNabb’s efforts were effective in defeating the Giants for the second time this season. The Eagles will be looking for another big effort from McNabb against the Cardinals in the NFC championship game against the Cardinals.
Arizona continues to surprise the NFL and fans alike with their 33-13 victory drubbing of the heavily favored Carolina Panthers. The Cardinals were able to build on the momentum from defeating the Atlanta Falcons in Wild Card weekend to continue to refine the re-newed emphasis on the running game against Carolina. Kurt Warner went 21-32 for 220 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in the win over the Panthers and continues to have an outstanding postseason. A key to victory for the Cardinals against the Eagles will be how well their secondary can contain Donovan McNabb and the Eagles air attack!
The Eagles are favored to win the NFC championship by three points over the Cardinals. The game will likely come down to which verteran quarterback makes the fewest mistakes against the other. Prediction, Warner wins the battle against McNabb and the Cardinals win the game, 28-24.