Today's Divisional Games

January 11, 2009|By Ken Murray

NFC

Matchup: Philadelphia (10-6-1)

at New York (12-4), 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5

Line: Giants by 4

Rematch: The teams split the season series, each winning on the road. The Eagles were in must-win mode Dec. 7 when they beat the Giants, 20-14. Brian Westbrook (right) had 203 yards from scrimmage. The last time they played in the postseason, after the 2006 season, the Eagles won, 23-20.

Difference-makers: The elusive Westbrook and rookie WR DeSean Jackson are the Eagles' playmakers. QB Donovan McNabb is 8-5 in the postseason. The Giants will follow RB Brandon Jacobs and count on QB Eli Manning to make plays in the air. Giants DE Justin Tuck is their leading sacker, but he's hampered with lower leg and knee injuries.

Point of attack: It will be interesting to see which script Eagles coach Andy Reid follows. He chose to run the ball 42 times in December's victory. The Eagles ran 21 times in a Week 10 loss to New York. This is where the Giants find out how much suspended WR Plaxico Burress meant to the offense. Without him, Manning's passing game has been sporadic.

The Baltimore Sun's pick: The Eagles have won five of their previous eight games in the Meadowlands, so they are not daunted by the prospect of winning there. McNabb has to have a big game for Philadelphia to win. The expectation here is he won't. Giants, 24-20.

AFC

Matchup: San Diego (9-8)

at Pittsburgh (12-4), 4:45 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9

Line: Steelers by 6

Rematch: The Steelers launched a five-game winning streak with an 11-10 victory over the visiting Chargers on Nov. 16. Ben Roethlisberger (right) threw for 308 yards, and Willie Parker ran for 115. It took a 32-yard field goal by Jeff Reed with 15seconds left to pull past the Chargers. Philip Rivers threw two interceptions, and LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for just 57 yards.

Difference-makers: RB Darren Sproles has become the man of the moment for San Diego, after gaining 328 total yards in the wild-card win over Indianapolis. Rivers has thrown for 11 touchdowns in his past five games and two interceptions over seven. Parker and WR Hines Ward move the chains for Pittsburgh, and LB James Harrison and LB LaMarr Woodley are the defensive playmakers.

Point of attack: The Steelers will likely go after the Chargers' 31st-ranked pass defense, and the key will be how the line protects Roethlisberger. San Diego will count on another big game from Sproles to keep the Steelers' pass rush off Rivers, who struggled in November.

The Baltimore Sun's pick: The Chargers have won the past two playoff games against Pittsburgh, and they now have a five-game winning streak. But the Steelers are rested and at home. Steelers, 27-13.

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