AFC Playoff Review and Preview

January 14, 2009

Last weekend saw three out of four road teams winning in the NFL playoffs. Should we expect more of the same? Here's a breakdown of last week's AFC playoff games and a preview of next Sunday's game.

Baltimore Ravens 13 Tennessee Titans 10

The Ravens survived this tough battle thanks to Tennessee's inability to hold on to the football. You couldn't simply say the Balitmore Defense took over as they have in previous playoff games. The Titans had 391 yards total offense to just 211 for the Ravens. They had 21 First Downs to just 9 for the Ravens. No, the 3 turnovers and 12 penalties in this game by the Titans made the difference.

Of course, the Ravens defense still deserves credit for this. However, their offense was steady but hardly stellar. Rookie QB Joe Flacco was frustrated for most of the day but completed 11 out of 22 for 161 yards and one touchdown. As part of the fine Ravens QB-tradition he was asked simply not to lose the game and that goal was accomplished.

Pittsburgh Steelers 35 San Diego Chargers 24

The Steelers balanced and bruising attack was too much for an inconsistent Charger team that heavily relied on Philip Rivers all year long. The defining drives of the game took place at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.

With 1:52 left in the half and trailing 10-7, the Steelers quickly marched down the field in 7 plays and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by Willie Parker. Parker would finish the day with 146 yards and two touchdowns. On their first possession of the second half, the Steelers lauched a 13-play, 77 yard drive that ate up 7:20 of the clock before ending on a 8 yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Heath Miller. That drive was kept alive numerous times by Roethlisberger making big conversions on Third and long.

After that, the Chargers' spirit was broken.

Ravens at Steelers - Preview

We know Joe Flacco has the ability to be this year's Trent Dilfer, the former mediocre Ravens QB who was asked to simply avoid too many major screw-ups on his way to a Super Bowl. However, the Baltimore defense did not look totally dominant as they have in the past. So the real question is, can Flacco be a proactive and positive influence upon the game, unlike Dilfer? In any case, Flacco will likely have to do more than what he has done so far to get the Ravens past the Steelers.

The Steelers running game has been solid all year, but even a tired Ravens defense can be expected to be effective against the run. The Steelers will also to have to rely more on their passing game than they would like. However, Roethlisberger appears ready for the burden and I expect he will continue to make big plays as he has all season long.

The Ravens are filled with experience on defense and are a great road team. It will be a tight, physical game, but I expect the Steelers to win.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Baltimore Ravens 13

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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