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NFL Picks & Pans: Divisional Playoffs

With the Baltimore Ravens playing in prime time at the Indianapolis Colts tonight, I'll "pick & pan" that game in my next story. However, there is another game today and two more tomorrow to determine the two teams in each conference's Championship Games next week. To me it looks like we have the best eight teams in the league right now still alive in the hunt for the Super Bowl. There were some great games last weekend and the Ravens and Cardinals helped out my picks while the Bengals just laid down once again for the Jets to give me my only miss last week.

So here we go with the three games other than the Ravens-Colts contest:

Saints over Cardinals: This game could definitely go either way today as New Orleans is on a three game losing streak while Arizona just lit it up big time last week in their OT victory over the Packers. However, I like the Saints to protect their home turf and their secondary to get the turnovers necessary to slow down the Cards' Kurt Warner, who has been red-hot in the playoffs. The Saints weakness has been their run defense and Arizona is just not a run-first offense, while I can see Drew Brees returning to form and torching the Cardinals secondary like Aaron Rodgers did last week. Home field advantage is a big one at the Superdome and the fans will be going insane there.

Vikings over Cowboys: Another game that could very well go the other way as well. I've seen Dallas on a roll, winning games over teams the past month who have not put up much of a defense. Now they face a Minnesota team that defends the run game pretty good and we will see if they can get it done on the ground and if not, how Tony Romo responds with the outcome on his shoulders. On the other side, while Brett Favre would like to have the game's outcome on his arm, the Vikings need to keep pounding Adrian Peterson until he wears down the Dallas defense, breaks a long one or opens up the passing game for a quick Favre strike.I fully expect that to happen in a very tough place for the visitor to win and Favre's long career goes on for at least one more game.

These first two games listed should be high scoring , but not the next one.

Chargers over Jets: Perhaps a part of me is biased in this pick as I want to see the Ravens going to warm and sunny Southern California rather than cold, dreary and drunken New York's Meadowlands. However, I've seen the last two Jets' regular season opponents lay down for them to get into the post season and then they were lucky enough to face a Cincinnati Bengals team that was a mere shadow of the one that earned the AFC North title. I've seen three relatively easy games for New York and while I will give them credit for getting their job done to get where they are, Sunday's game will be far different from the past three for the Jets. No way San Diego lays down and allows New York to run all over them, while rookie QB Mark Sanchez just sits back in the pocket and waits for a receiver to get open. Chargers QB Phil Rivers is among the best in the NFL this season and will be glad to look elsewhere for one of his many WR's if Vincent Jackson is shut down by the Jets' Darrell Revis. The other Jets' corners will not be able to stop the big and fast Charger targets as Rivers finally gets San Diego to host an AFC Championship Game.

Last week: 3-1

Season record: 172-86