The Common Man meant to post his picks last night, but a buzzsaw of work made that impossible. So you get the Campbell's condensed version today:
Picks: In retrospect
The Common Man went 2-2 last weekend, which is not very good, but is also somewhat respectable considering the Vikings pick was a total homer call. In retrospect, the Tarvaris Jackson era was fun for all of 3.5 games. Now please return Tarvaris to the Rodney Peete Memorial Pile of Back-up Quarterbacks, and find someone who can complete a past on 3rd and 5.
Picks: In future-spect (the short version)
Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans (Titans favored by 3)
Two similar teams here, with tough defenses, a strong run game and a mediocre air attack. The difference between the two would appear to be the quarterbacks, where Joe Flacco of the Ravens is a rookie and Kerry Collins of the Titans is a grizzled vet. Normally, The Common Man would be all over the Titans because of this, especially at home. Maybe it's the Titans' logo (a silly looking T), maybe it's that Flacco has already won one road playoff game (though he didn't look good doing it), or maybe its the Ravens' fabulous big-play defense led by Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Ray Lewis (actually, there's no maybe, it's the defense), but The Common Man thinks that Tennessee's going to run into a buzzsaw this week. The defense gets a couple of takeaways and the offense is efficient enough to hold on. Ravens 21, Titans 19.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers (Panthers favored by 10)
Look out Arizona, here comes an incredible rushing attack, driven by DeAngelo Williams (1500+ yards, 18 TDs) and Jonathan Stewart (800+ yards, 10 TDs). While Kurt Warner and Arizona will be able to move the ball against the Panthers through the air, the Panthers will grind against the Cardinals front seven, controlling the ball and the tempo of the game, and wearing down their opponents. Look for a lot of scoring in this one, a potential breakout by Steve Smith, and an efficient performance from Jake Delhomme. Panthers 31, Arizona 20.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants (Giants favored by 4)
This will be a really interesting game, as the teams split their regular season pair of games and each have one of the top rated offenses and defenses in the game. The Common Man is going to pick the Giants here, because he thinks they were actually much better than their numbers show, but were on coast for the last quarter of the season. Also, with two thousand-yard rushers and an extremely accurae and efficient QB (who was the MVP of the Super Bowl last year), it's hard to imagine the Giants letting this game slip away. At worst, they will keep the game close and pull it out when McNabb or Andy Reid make a mental mistake and cost the Eagles the game. More likely, they do exactly what the Panthers are going to do to the Cardinals, grind it out on the ground and wait for the Eagles defense to get tired. Then pull away in the second half. Giants 27, Eagles 19
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers (Pittsburgh favored by 6)
The Common Man knows that the Chargers played perfect football against the Colts last week, and have won five games in a row. And Philip Rivers and Damian Sproles have played inspired ball. But the Steelers are well coached and have had two weeks to get ready for this game. Ben Roethlisberger is a strong and reliable leader, and they have perhaps the single best defensive unit and player (Troy Polamalu). This should neutralize both Sproles/Tomlinson in the backfield and Gates in the passing game. However, Roethlisberger gets sacked a lot, and is recovering from a concussion in week 15. The Common Man sees the Steelers pulling this game out, unless Roethlisberger goes down again. At that point, it's anybody's game. Steelers 17, Chargers 9