Cornerback Walt Harris and linebacker Parys Haralson will go head to head during the playoffs with their picks and reasons for them. Since they've yet to disagree on any of their picks, we had them offer up their point predictions for this weekend's AFC and NFC Championship Games. Eagles @ Cardinals CB Walt HarrisObviously the Cardinals are definitely steamrolling right now with Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald but my thing is that Donovan McNabb is going back to Arizona where he trains. He's familiar with that environment. All the things that Donovan went thru, being benched earlier in the year and just the overall criticism he's taken there in Philly, I just think he's going to go down to Arizona and have a great game.
Brian Westbrook is also an X factor. He's been somewhat quiet during the playoffs thus far, so he's due a break out game. Plus they have other weapons with DeSean Jackson and Jason Avanti. I just don't think Arizona has the right scheme to match that. Last week, the Cardinals were able to use double coverage on Steve Smith, especially since Carolina never established the run. I think the Eagles have more offensive weapons, and a very experienced offensive line. The Eagles handled the Giants pressure, and I think they can do the same in Arizona.
Also, that Eagles defense is very mature and I think they can stop Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin if he's back in the lineup. Kurt Warner is going to have to play a turnover free game, and avoid the sacks and fumbles. That defensive coordinator in Philly does an excellent job of showing different looks. Obviously, Kurt is a veteran quarterback who has seen it all, but I think this could be a terrible turnover frenzy for Kurt, especially if they don't get Edgerrin James going.
They have been relying on James and the run game more the last two weeks, but the Eagles have shutdown some really superb runners in Adrian Peterson and then Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward.
I just think the Eagles are a tough team. I just feel it in my gut. I already said they were going to be in the Super Bowl when it all started so I am sticking with them. My score prediction since Parys and I keep picking the same teams, 28-24 Eagles.
LB Parys HaralsonI'm a little distracted right now because I've got five little kids running around my grandmama's house right now in Mississippi. They are my cousins' kids and they are wild, so I can't really think all that straight, but here goes.
The dang Cardinals are messing me up. Otherwise I've done pretty well in my game outcomes. Still, I'm picking the Eagles. I'm basically going with their defense. They've been doing well and one of my best friends, Omar Gaither plays for them so I'm pulling for him. They've won twice on the road already and I think that third time is a charm, but not so much for Arizona. Arizona is a tough spot to play, and it will be loud but they can quiet that crowd if they get off to a fast start.
Kurt Warner is throwing the ball and they've been moving the ball on the ground, but I just think the Eagles defense is outstanding. They stopped the Giants on fourth and short twice and that's one of the toughest running teams in the NFL. So I think they can shut down the run and blitz the heck out of Kurt Warner.
Asante Samuel has been playing well and got another interception last week, Brian Dawkins is playing well against the run and pass and I just think that's a favorable matchup for the Eagles against the Cardinals best asset with Warner and those receivers.
My score prediction – Philly 28-21.
Ravens @ Steelers HarrisWe are dealing with two teams that are truly predicated on their defenses. Steelers have the home field advantage but the Ravens are on a roll right now. Their defense matched up against a strong running team last week in Tennessee, against one of the better offensive lines in the league.
Although the Steelers oline did a nice job buying time for Roethlisberger last week, I think the Ravens have a stronger pass rush than San Diego.
Of course Joe Flacco is a young quarterback, but he handled a veteran Titans defense last week and came out on top. I know the Steelers are a defensive force, but I think with great play calling and a run game that the Ravens will be able to move the ball.
I think it's going to be a low scoring game, but in the end I think the Ravens defense is going to handle the Steelers offense a bit better than the Steelers defense can handle the Ravens offense.
My score prediction is 14-10.
HaralsonI'm taking Baltimore because Joe Flacco is playing well. He started off slow, but they came alive in Nashville last week, and I think they have one of the top five defenses in the league. Ray Lewis is still knocking people out, that defense front is getting pressure with Terrell Suggs, and they are causing a lot of turnovers with Ed Reed back there. Marques Douglas has been texting me after every game, telling me two more to go, one more to go, and so I'm pulling for him. (Notice a theme here, I'm clearly biased when I've got buddies on the team.)
The Steelers had a nice offensive day against San Diego but I think that Ravens defense can get after that offensive line. They let Roethlisberger take a lot of hits during the season, and I don't think they can hold up against Baltimore.
I think at the end of the day the Ravens defense will outplay the Steelers defense and I'm going with a score prediction of 17-14.