Three more freakin' games, that's all we have left of the NFL in 2008. This weekend's slate looks nothing like I predicted in the NFC, but I pretty much nailed it in the AFC. Either way it makes for an interesting Sunday of football. Here's how I see the games unfolding this weekend:
PHILADELPHIA (9-7) at ARIZONA (9-6-1) - Eagles favored by 4
Outlook: For the thrird straight week it's hard to find anybody that wants to pick the Cardinals, but they just keep finding ways to win. In my mind they've already beaten two teams that are just as good as Philly.
The Eagles are riding high, but outside of drilliing an overrated and unfocused Cowboys' team to get into the playoffs, outlasting a Tavaris Jackson-led Vikings' squad, and a Giants' offense that failed to find an idenity what have the Eagles done? All that's right, they tied the freakin' Bengals, got drilled by the Ravens, and blew a must-win game late in the year to a weak Redskins' team.
Arizona looked terrible down the stretch of the regular season, but post-season surge of the defense and the committment to get a running game going has breathed life into the Cardinals at the perfect time. They looked impressive against Atlanta and shut down Michael Turner. Then they went to Carolina and did something eight other teams couldn't do this year as they beat the Panthers. And not just beat them, but drill them.
The Eagles jumped out to a 21-0 lead before rolling the Cards on Thanksgiving Night, but this time its in Arizona and believe it or not I am going to think that makes a difference.
My Pick: CARDS 24, EAGLES 20
Fantasy Clicks: PLAY - Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner, Brian Westbrook, Edgerrin James, Tim Hightower, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, David Akers, Neil Rackers; DON'T PLAY - Correll Buckhalter, Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith, Eagles DEF, Cardinals DEF
BALTIMORE (11-5) at PITTSBURGH (12-4) - Steelers favored by 6
Outlook: The Steelers have already beaten the Ravens twice this season and beating a team three times in one season is a tough task, but it's not unheard off. Just ask the 1999 Jaguars, they went 14-2 before with both losses coming to the Titans, then they lost to Tennessee in the playoffs. It happens. Baltimore has had quite a run to get this point, but they look tired. They haven't had a bye since Week 2 and the veterans on the defense have played at such a high level I think that could hurt them.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is enjoying fresh life in the running game as Fast Willie Parker finally gets to 100%. His speed to the outside could present problems for the Ravens, who are likely to be without linebacker Terrell Suggs. Ben Roethlisberger is going to be playing looser than Joe Flacco, but that could lead into turnovers. To me that is the key to this game. If Baltimore is going to have a chance they will need to limit Big Ben and capitalize on mistakes. I don't see the Steelers, who have the best homefield advantage in the league, making too many mistakes though.
My Pick: STEELERS 20, RAVENS 13
Fantasy Clicks: PLAY - Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, LeRon McClain, Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Derrick Mason, Heath Miller, Jeff Reed, Matt Stover, Steelers DEF, Ravens DEF; DON'T PLAY -Willis McGahee, Mewelde Moore, Mark Clayton, Nate Washington, Todd Heap
Fantasy Football, NFL