Taking a look at the National Football League’s version of the final four, I’m still trying to figure out if this was just a really bad dream. Did Arizona really beat up Carolina in Charlotte? How did the Titans not score 35 points against the Ravens? What kind of practice do the New York Giants run? Is Pittsburgh really the best team left in the playoffs?
Entering Championship Sunday, the highest seed left in the draw belongs to the Steelers. Wiping out the Chargers in quick fashion, Pittsburgh ran over San Diego and will host the championship game on Sunday against the Ravens.
With the health of many key players for Baltimore up in the air, it will be interesting to see if Samari Rolle and Terrell Suggs will play for a shot to take home the Lamar Hunt trophy.
Pittsburgh enters the playoff game against Baltimore with two wins against the Ravens this season. Both of those wins are meaningless in the postseason. If the Steelers want to travel to Tampa for the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh must go away from the run and throw on the Ravens questionable secondary. Utilizing tight end Heath Miller for 8-15 yard gains, the Steelers can effectively move the ball downfield and control the tempo of the game. Obviously, that’s easier said than done.
Baltimore wants to make this a blood game. Run the ball down the Steelers throat while maintaining an edge on time of possession. The Ravens don’t want Joe Flacco to force throws into the Pittsburgh defense. Flacco must not let the enormous pressure get to him early in the game. He can see the podium at media day in Tampa waiting for him if the Ravens can finally beat the Steelers this season.
It’s so close.
I’m not sold on the Ravens offense or depth with their exceptional defense. Look for Pittsburgh to strike early through the air and take a lead they never give away. Pittsburgh looks like a Super Bowl team. The Ravens are the lucky team that made it to the title game.
The Pick: Pittsburgh 17, Baltimore 6
NFC Championship Pick: Philadelphia 28, Arizona 24