Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pickin' the Champs

Another week, another middling 2-2 for The Common Man, making him 4-4 for the playoffs thusfar. Really, what are you still doing reading this? How can you even pretend The Common Man has insight? What? You just like to watch him flail? Well then, you're in luck. Here are The Common Man's sure to be half-right picks for the Conference Championships:

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals (Eagles favored by 4)

It's hard to imagine even the most hard-core gambler putting money down on either team still being alive. Arizona's pass-first offense should have been shut down before this, but Larry Fitzgerald has refused to allow it, proving to be the most impressive and dynamic receiver in the league. Philadelphia's moribund offense has provided just enough in two straight games to get past teams whose offenses proved to be even more inept.

The Common Man gives Phildelphia virtually zero credit for its wins, and thinks that Arizona has only won because they haven't had to face a great running game (they could stack the line against the Falcons, daring a rookie QB to beat them; and the Panthers never ran at them at all). Then again, running the ball isn't Philly's forte. So, in the end, The Common Man is unsure. He thinks it will be a close game, and would normally stay away from it at all costs.

But in the name of manly decision-making, he is going to go with the Cardinals to at least keep the game within 3 and still have a puncher's chance of winning, especially at home, and especially given how much the Eagles have struggled with the ball.

Final Score: Cardinals 24, Eagles 22

Baltimore Raves vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Steelers favored by 6)

These teams are entirely familiar with one another, are huge division rivals, and don't like each other much. They played twice this year, and Pittsbugh won both times, but only by seven total points. As such, it's hard to figure out exactly why the line on the game is as big as it is. Indeed, given that this game should be very low scoring, The Common Man is tempted to take the points here. After all, of the four best players on the field, three of them will be Ravens (Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs vs. Troy Polamalu). The only thing giving The Common Man pause is rookie Joe Flacco at the helm for the Ravens. In a hostile environment, in just his third playoff game (though he performed efficiently last time out), the kid could get rattled and throw the game away. But The Common Man has a lot of faith in that Baltimore defense, and can't imagine Flacco causing enough trouble to push the score beyond the line.

Final Score: Baltimore 16, Pittsburgh 14

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