The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Throwing Surprise Party

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There are two #6 seeds remaining in the playoffs. The Arizona Cardinals are still alive in the playoffs. At this point, nothing would surprise me. In the desert, Donovan McNabb could throw three touchdowns to DeSean Jackson. He could also throw three interceptions to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Kurt Warner could sizzle on Sunday and hit Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin all over the place. Or Trent Cole could sack him and Brian Dawkins could return the fumble for a score. In Steel town, Ray Lewis could knock out Willie Parker while James Harrison could end Joe Flacco's season early.

Anything can happen this weekend, but nothing will be a surprise at this point. A real surprise would be what Boise State did to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl the other year. All that game had was the Hook and Ladder, Statue of Liberty, halfback option, a clinched undefeated season capped off with the star RB proposing to his cheerleader girlfriend on national television. Now, that was a surprise.

If McNabb got hurt and Kevin Kolb came in and took Philadelphia to Tampa -- that would be considered a surprise. If Warner went down and Matt Leinart led Arizona to Tampa -- that too would be considered a surprise. But, if you've been following this NFL season and post-season, you'll know to always expect the unexpected. So, even when the surprises arrive this weekend, don't be that surprised.

Let's make our predictions for this weekend:

I still think Pittsburgh's defense is slightly healthier and a bit better rested -- if that really means anything at this point. That being said, you hear how hard it is to beat a team three times in a season. The Steelers survived the first game and sneaked away with the second one. Baltimore won't let that happen again. The Ravens leadership loves playing in Pittsburgh. The Terrible Towels do not intimidate them. Flacco has shown a unique resilience to pressure. He will need to remain calm and collected throughout the game, no matter the circumstances. It will be a tight one from start to finish and I have this feeling Matt Stover will make a big kick. This game is a toss up, but I just have a feeling about Baltimore. Ravens win 20-16.

I expect a higher scoring game given the cozier conditions in Arizona this weekend. I still have no idea why I haven't moved out there to live in that sunny weather year round. That's for another day. I like the Eagles in this one. I think their defense will mix it up on Warner and force a couple turnovers. I think the Cardinals peaked last week in Carolina. That was very unexpected and I watched that game thinking I can't see them doing it again. It's hard to bet against the Eagles right now no matter the weather, the field conditions, and most importantly, the opponent. They stuck it to Minnesota, pounded New York, and will likely take it to Arizona. Eagles win 30-19.

That will lead us full circle to a Philadelphia vs. Baltimore Super Bowl. Benchings anyone?

By Zach Leibowitz  |  January 16, 2009; 1:47 PM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Baltimore Ravens , Philadelphia Eagles , Pittsburgh Steelers , Zach Leibowitz Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I would be pretty shocked if the Eagles won this game Zack. And Baltimore is the underdog. Cards against Steelers with the Steelers running away with it. 28-10.

I could be wrong but I really do not think Philly has any gas left in the tank. McNabb is going to choke and start putting the ball in the ground. Westbrook is injured, the oline banged up and the defense cannot handle Fitz and Bouldin. It's going to be a long hot day in Eagle land.

Posted by: donnapaap | January 17, 2009 7:31 AM

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