RAVENS (11-5) @ DOLPHINS (11-5): A really intriguing matchup between the Ravens and Dolphins. After going 1-15 last season, the Dolphins have turned things around thanks in major part to the craftmanship of Director of Operations Bill Parcellls, who has reenergized the Dolphins with the leadership of coach Tony Sparano and the guts of quarterback Chad Pennington.
One thing the Dolphins have done especiially well this year is finding way to not turn the ball over. All together the Dolphins have only turned the ball over 13 times. It will be interesting to see Miami does against a Ravens defense that has forced 26 interceptions and 13 fumbles this season, clearly the best in the NFL.
The last time Miami and Baltimore matched up, the Ravens ate up the Dolphins wild cat offense, preventing Ronnie Brown from going anywhere, and gobbled up Chad Pennington and his softball passes, as Baltimore won 27-13 in October. How the Dolphins offense moves the ball against the stout Ravens D' will go along way in determining the winner of this game.
As for Baltimore's offense, they have finally received a boost of energy from rookie quarterback Joe Flacco who has thrown for 2,971 yards and 14 touchdowns. Flacco, who is a mobile quarterback, will have to find a way to get away from Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter who had 17 and a half sacks this year for Miami. The Dolphins love to blitz the quarterback, and the rookie will have to find a way to avoid the pressure in a huge playoff game. This one should be very close. PICK: RAVENS 20, DOLPHINS 17.
EAGLES (9-6-1) @ VIKINGS (10-6): No team scares people more this postseason then the Philadelphia Eagles. Since Donavan's McNabb's time out against the Ravens in mid-November, the Eagles have been soaring, winning four of their final five games, including a 44-6 spanking of the Dallas Cowboys last week. McNabb has been playing much better, and as usual Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter have been leading the way for Philly on the ground. If this trio stays hot, they will be hard to deal with at this time of the year.
The Vikings may not be the best team coming out of the NFC North; they have had to rely on journeyman quarterback Gus Ferrotte in the first half of the year before he bowed out due to an injury, and the inconsistent Travaris Jackson. Thus, it will be imperative for running back Adrian Peterson to have a big day against a good Eagles defense in order for Minnesota to win and advance.
Don't bet on it though. The Eagles are just too hot right now, and they should romp big time in this game, even if they just contain Peterson. PICK: EAGLES 21, VIKINGS 13.