By Paul Najjar
Last Week: 11-5
Season Record: 167-89 65.2%
Titans at Ravens
The Ravens have won the last five meetings between these teams, but the Titans won five of the previous six games in the series. Everyone is talking about how lethal the Ravens’ defense is, but the Titans possess the top-ranked defense in the league, and they are number one against the run. The Titans will attempt to stop their running game and force Ravens’ QB Anthony Wright to win this game. The Titans will do everything they can to clog the running lanes for Ravens’ RB Jamal Lewis. Lewis will need his offensive line to create cutback running lanes for him and the will have some success, but not to the tune of 150 or more yards. I see Lewis getting the ball handed to him about 30 times, but for only 110 yards. I think the Ravens need to get him the ball in the passing game and let him maneuver outside the middle of the field.
The Titans can move the ball on offense against the Ravens. In the last five meetings against them, the Titans hurt themselves with turnovers and an inability to score touchdowns when venturing into the "red zone." In a matchup that will come down to quarterback play, I’ll go with the co-MVP of the league, Steve McNair.
Titans 17 Ravens 13
Cowboys at Panthers
These teams are mirror images of each other. Bill Parcells and his disciple John Fox at the coaching positions; Quincy Carter and Jake Delhomme, two unproven guys getting their first playoff starts; Stephen Davis and… wait a minute, I cannot put Troy Hambrick’s name in this category; Dallas’ defense, so very quick and explosive vs. the Carolina defense, so tough and hard-charging. This game will come down to who runs the ball most effectively and turnovers. I like Carolina in the running game, but I like Dallas and their big-play ability on defense.
Jake Delhomme will have to be at the very top of his game to avoid turnovers in critical situations. The Cowboys will keep this game very close, but their lack of a running game will prove their downfall.
Panthers 20 Cowboys 17
Seahawks at Packers
Many angles to this game: Mike Holmgren coming back to Green Bay vs. his old QB Brett Favre and his old assistant coach Mike Sherman; Favre vs. his old back-up QB Matt Hasselbeck; former Seahawks’ RB Ahman Green vs. his protégé and current Seahawks’ RB Shaun Alexander. Ultimately, this game will come down to whose defense will play better. I’ll take the Packers’ defense over the Seahawks’ defense in this game. Look for Ahman Green to rush for 150+ yards and the Packers to control the clock. Holmgren will keep his team in the game, but a late interception will seal the deal for the Packers.
Packers 24 Seahawks 21
Broncos at Colts
Two weeks ago the Broncos crushed the Colts on a Sunday night game. And they did not even have their superstar RB Clinton Portis dressed to play. The Colts are a quick, agile, small defensive group and the Broncos offensive line lined up and mashed them all over the field. They will do it again in this game, but the Colts will make adjustments and limit the Broncos rushing attack to well under the 230+ yards they surrendered two weeks ago. I think co-MVP Peyton Manning will have a better game than he has had in the past two weeks (I don’t know why, though, because he has played horribly in his two career playoff losses) and lead his team to a hard fought victory.
Colts 26 Broncos 24