Had Pittsburgh not held off San Diego earlier tonight, all four road teams would have won the Divisional Round playoff games. As it was, three of the teams that earned byes during the regular season earned themselves a seat on the couch for next weekend’s AFC and NFC Championship games.
I have to say, I am ecstatic for next weekend. No, neither the Browns nor Dolphins are still playing. But at least the Dolphins got into the playoffs to give me a little bit of excitement. And I am disappointed that Darren Sproles and the Chargers are not moving forward, but he and the team made a valiant charge from 4-8 all the way to the Divisional Round. But look at the matchups!
In the AFC, we get this season’s most heated rivalry: the Steelers and the Ravens. The Steelers took both of the first two meetings, but that only adds to the intrigue. Baltimore is on fire right now, and we all know how difficult it is to beat a good team three times in a row — at home, or otherwise. Plus, you have the whole subplot of the alleged bounty that the Ravens players placed on Hines Ward. Mix in some typical AFC North physical play, some bad weather, Ray Lewis, Big Ben, Mike Tomlin, Ed Reed…look, I’m a Browns fan so I hate both of these teams, but I can’t wait to watch them engage in a knock down, drag out fight to get to the Super Bowl.
The question is, will either team have enough left for the Super Bowl when all is said and done? Luckily for the winner, they’ll have two weeks to recover.
In the NFC, who would have thought that the Philadelphia and Arizona would be playing? Both teams won just 9 games in the regular season, meaning that a 9-win team will be playing in the Super Bowl for the first time in a non-strike shortened season since 1979. Philly spanked Arizona in their one meeting this year, but Arizona is a different team right now. They played well against Atlanta, took it to Carolina in the Panthers’ house, and might have Anquan Boldin back.
It is going to be a fun weekend. Here is a quick look at the schedule for next Sunday, complete with the early point spreads and announcer lineups. (As we do with the majority of the sports odds we bring here at MSF, they are courtesy are DocSports.)
AFC Championship Game
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Sunday, January 18, 2009
- TV: 6:30 ET on CBS
- Announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
- Season Series: Pittsburgh Steelers 2 | Baltimore Ravens 0
- Point Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers -6 1/2 (updated 1/13)
- Over-Under: 34
- Official Midwest Sports Fans Ravens-Steelers Preview and Prediction
NFC Championship Game
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
- Sunday, January 18, 2009
- TV: 3:00 ET on FOX
- Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Pam Oliver
- Season Series: Philadelphia Eagles 1 | Arizona Cardinals 0
- Point Spread: Philadelphia Eagles -3 1/2 (updated 1/13)
- Over-Under: 47
- Official Midwest Sports Fans Eagles-Cardinals Preview and Prediction
A wild and crazy NFL season has come down to just two games to determine the Super Bowl participants. I don’t know who could have possibly predicted that these would be the two games we would get, but that’s what makes the NFL such a great, crazy, unpredictable sport.
We’ll have further analysis of each game later in the week.