Peter King of SI.com made his predictions for this Sunday’s games and thinks it’ll be an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.
• The longer the week goes, the more reason I find to like Arizona. The defense has been reborn in January, the players have perfected the Rodney Dangerfield no-respect rant, Larry Fitzgerald is playing like Superman, and they’ll be home, inside their weather-controlled dome. However, what this pick comes down to is my late-season belief in Donovan McNabb … 217 yards passing in the Meadowlands wind tunnel last week, 68-percent passing in Minnesota’s noise machine the week before, and a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception differential in the five games since Andy Reid pulled the plug on him in Baltimore. And though I trust the Arizona defense to stop the Eagle run, I trust McNabb to make the right decisions and move the Eagles consistently against Arizona.
On the other side, I don’t think Kurt Warner will have the time to throw that he’s had in his first two playoff games, which means he probably will have to throw more checkdowns than he likes. The Eagles linebackers ate up the checkdowns against the Giants last week. McNabb’s out for redemption, whether he says it or not, and he’ll get it near his winter home in the desert. Philadelphia 24, Arizona 19.
• As a reporter, or a fan, when you get to the big games, you just hope both teams come in healthy so when the ball’s kicked off, you can say, “Let the best man win.” In this game, I’m afraid it’s about the healthiest team winning. The Steelers’ running game has come alive with a healthy Willie Parker gashing the Browns and Chargers for 262 yards on 50 carries in his last two starts. And Roethlisberger has made a real alternative out of Santonio Holmes in the passing game, so he now has three guys — Holmes, Heath Miller, Hines Ward — he trusts implicitly when he throws.
I fear the Ravens will have to play the pass with Fabian Washington and Frank Walker — good, hard-trying guys but not shutdown corners — playing most of the snaps at corner with Chris McAlister long-gone and Samari Rolle likely out with a thigh injury. Two huge Ravens in this postseason, McClain and Terrell Suggs, will either be out or severely limited with injuries. I loved the Ravens two weeks ago. I still love their gumption, but I don’t think that’s enough to beat the hottest team playing and playing at home. Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 13.
Peter obviously saw my predictions for this weekend and went the opposite. Smart man.
Comment fodder: Who wins this week?