Breaking down the potential upsets of the Divisional Round

There are eight teams playing in four playoff games this weekend. Of the eight, two of the teams (the Ravens and Eagles) have legitimate shots of pulling off upsets, one has a decent shot (Chargers) and one might be lucky to still be in the game by the fourth quarter (Cardinals).

Granted, these are playoff games we’re talking about, so every team has a chance to pull off an upset. But does anyone outside of Arizona truly believe that the Cardinals will fly east and beat the Panthers with Carolina coming off a bye week? The Cards were impressive in their win over the Falcons, but they’ve always played better on the road than at home so there’s a big possibility that ‘Zona won’t make it to the next round.

The Chargers could very well go into Pittsburgh and knock off a Steelers team that has offensive line issues and a quarterback that doesn’t mind turning the ball over from time to time. But Pittsburgh’s defense is freaking nasty and I can’t see Darren Sproles rushing for over 100 yards like he did last week. Again though, a few key bounces go the Chargers way and SD could pull off the upset.

But the two games people are mostly taking about are the Ravens-Titans and the Eagles-Giants matchups. Those are easily the best two matchups of the weekend and games that could go either way.

Let’s gauge these two potential upsets:

Ravens at Titans: Baltimore’s defense has stifled opponents all year, but Tennessee’s has played just as well. Look for the Titans to gang up to stop the Ravens’ outstanding rushing game and force rookie quarterback Joe Flacco to beat them via the pass. For as good as Baltimore’s defense is and for as well as Flacco has played this season, he’s still inexperienced, as is head coach John Harbaugh. A lot of folks are getting wrapped up in how good the Ravens defense is, but inexperience is eventually going to catch up with Flacco and Harbaugh. I think it will be this week against a veteran Titans squad with an equally good defense.
Upset rating: 7 out of 10.

Eagles at Giants: Philadelphia has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL this season and they didn’t necessarily rough up the Vikings as many predicted last Sunday. But the G-Men haven’t looked sharp in over a month and if the Eagles can stop Brandon Jacobs and the running game, Eli Manning might succumb to the pressure without having a big time playmaker at receiver. Philly has also already beaten the Giants in New York this year and their defense matches up very well with what the G-Men bring to the table. Brian Westbrook isn’t 100% and it’s tough to win in New York, but I actually think the Eagles have a better shot with Donovan McNabb and company of producing an upset than the Ravens do in Tennessee.
Upset rating: 8 out of 10.

What’s your upset of the weekend?

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