Okay, this is the weekend where the NFL usually restores its pecking order after some Wild Card Weekend craziness, right?
Yes...and no. Right away to the no:
I'm still not entirely sold on Tennessee as a Super Bowl team (or Kerry Collins as a championship quarterback, even though Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl once). The Titans do have defense and running, two qualities that play well come playoff time. However, Baltimore is on the same kind of roll as a sixth seed that the Steelers were on three years ago. Dominant defense, solid running, and I'm still waiting for Joe Flacco to make rookie mistakes. Oops, there goes another top seed.
RAVENS 20, TITANS 17.
The Cardinals earned themselves some credibility by knocking off the Falcons last week, but now encounter their Achilles heel: the Eastern Time Zone. The tackles aren't quite as sure, Kurt Warner's passes don't have as much zip, the effort doesn't seem quite as consistent. Arizona's Eastern troubles defy explanation. Meanwhile, the Carolina offense is loaded. D'Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will wear out any defense...and it's not like the Panthers have no passing game, either. Nothing could be finer...
PANTHERS 34, CARDINALS 21.
Yes, the Eagles strutted into the Meadowlands last month and did a number on the world champions. And they've been hot. Philly is also inconsistent, though, and not capable of putting together four straight performances like the Giants did last year. Having had a little time to adjust, the New Yorkers will stay in Donovan McNabb's face and run the ball down their throats.
GIANTS 23, EAGLES 9.
Ben Roethlisberger has two strikes against him: the concussion he suffered in the regular season finale and a considerably less than stellar playoff record at Heinz Field. However, defense and ground game gets Pittsburgh through the weekend. San Diego finally runs out of gas, with LaDanian Tomlinson hurt and Darren Sproles up against a more physical defense.
STEELERS 16. CHARGERS 10.