NFL Conference Championship Games Open Thread

The 2009 NFL Playoffs continue this afternoon with the AFC and NFC Championship games - and once two winners are decided, Super Bowl XLIII's participants will be decided.  So let's hear it, Bills fans - who's going to the Super Bowl?  Today's matchups promise to, at the very least, be highly entertaining...

Ari_medium   Phi_medium
Arizona Cardinals (11-7) vs Philadelphia Eagles (11-6-1)
3:00 PM EST, FOX
Cardinals coverage: Revenge of the Birds
Eagles coverage: Bleeding Green Nation

Long thought of as duds of the NFL, the Cardinals have thrown dung into the faces of the Lions, Bengals and Bills by achieving a conference title game for the first time in franchise history - and they get to host it.  Good for them.  Most folks have fallen in love with the idea that the Eagles are essentially shoo-ins to win this game - they've got playmakers, their defense has been off the charts, and they've been to this point in the post-season before.  I, on the other hand, think the Cardinals are tough for anyone to beat at home, really like their playmakers offensively, and hey - there defense has been pretty darned good, too.  I'll take the home team in an upset.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 23, Eagles 20
Familiar faces: Cardinals OL Mike Gandy, Eagles LS Jon Dorenbos

Pit_medium   Bal_medium
Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) vs Baltimore Ravens (13-5)
6:30 PM EST, CBS
Steelers coverage: Behind the Steel Curtain
Ravens coverage: Baltimore Beatdown

To me, nothing is better in sports than an intra-division conference championship game - especially when the two teams involved are the bitterest of rivals.  Take, for example, Buffalo's 29-10 drubbing of the Dolphins in 1992 to advance to their third straight Super Bowl - now that's a satisfying win.  The Steelers won this matchup twice during the regular season, but the Ravens team they'll face this evening is playing at their highest level yet.  In the end, however, the defenses cancel each other out, and I like Pittsburgh's ability to make the big play offensively far more than I like the Ravens' ability.  Once again, I'll take the home team.

PREDICTION: Steelers 17, Ravens 13
Familiar faces: Ravens RB Willis McGahee, DT Justin Bannan, S Jim Leonhard

Predicted Super Bowl XLIII matchup: Steelers vs Cardinals

Now it's your turn.  While I sit here and realize that my predictions will likely result in a Ravens vs Eagles Super Bowl, you have a chance to one-up me and gain some bragging rights if you post your predictions as well.  Let's hear it!

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