18 January 2009

My picks for today's games

I'm not going to do a blog as the games go on - sadly, I'll be forsaking football for Old English pronoun forms.

Here are my predictions, though. And I just about guarantee they're the most detailed predictions you'll find anywhere.

Eagles 34, Cardinals 30

The Cardinals will come out firing; Kurt Warner will hit Larry Fitzgerald on a 23-yard seam route with 9:12 left in the first quarter. Early on, also, the Eagles' running game will be held well in check; even though Donovan McNabb will convert a couple of first-quarter third-and-longs (one on a 12-yard run, one on a 23-yard crossing pattern to Jason Avant), Philadelphia will be held scoreless in the first quarter.

By halftime, the tide will be starting to turn. The Cardinals will still be ahead, 24-13, but the Eagles will have outgained them, 148-65, in the second quarter. Also noteworthy: Kurt Warner will have taken two hard sacks, though he will have popped up from each one crossing himself and pointing to the sky.

In the third quarter, Brian Westbrook will break a 71-yard run on a toss sweep to the right side, breaking a Karlos Dansby tackle along the way. Kurt Warner will throw an interception, and Joe Buck will praise his composure.

By the start of the fourth quarter, the Cardinals will still be leading, 27-20, but it will be clear that the Eagles have the momentum. Warner will be sacked, and Asante Samuel will return the ensuing fumble for a touchdown that ties the score 27-27 with 8:33 remaining. The Cardinals will return the ensuing kickoff into Eagles territory, but will get only a field goal. The Eagles will score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) touchdown on a crossing pattern from McNabb to Kevin Curtis with 1:05 left. On 4th-and-10 from the Arizona 33, with 0:44 remaining, Warner will hold onto the ball for too long, trying to find Fitzgerald open, and will be sacked, ending the Cardinals' chances. Game MVP: Brian Westbrook (16 carries, 122 yards, 2 TD)

Pittsburgh 24, Baltimore 10

Pittsburgh will grab Joe Flacco by the throat and shake him until he gives up. Literally, in at least one case - James Harrison will draw a facemask personal foul with 2:24 left in the first quarter.

This game will start slowly; there will be no score at the end of the first quarter, thanks partly to good defense and partly to a missed 47-yard field goal from Matt Stover.

In the second quarter, things will heat up. Ray Lewis and Max Starks will draw offsetting unnecessary roughness personal fouls with 8:00 left in the half. Ben Roethlisberger will take the Steelers down the field for an 80 yard touchdown drive, despite being sacked on back-to-back plays; Flacco will struggle to so much as complete a pass, though the Ravens will have moderate success running the ball up the middle. Score at halftime: Pittsburgh 7, Baltimore 3.

Despite the close tally at the intermission, the game won't seem close. Pittsburgh will begin controlling the clock, methodically working the ball down the field. Baltimore will score its only touchdown on a Willis McGahee stretch play after the game has already been decided. Game MVP: Ben Roethlisberger (22-32, 251 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT)

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