The NFL’s version of the Final Four is on tap this weekend as the Cardinals, Eagles, Ravens and Steelers vie for a chance to play in Super Bowl XLIII.
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. MST
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES vs. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Why You Should Watch: When these two NFC squads went up against one another on Thanksgiving night few people had either team penciled in for the NFC Championship.
Arizona is playing host the NFC Championship, prior to this season the Cardinals franchise had only one playoff win in 61 seasons. The Eagles on the other hand are no strangers to the conference championship having played in the game five out of the last eight seasons.
The Cardinals are coming off of an impressive win against the heavily favored Carolina Panthers 33-13 on the road.
The Eagles have made their own improbable run as of late winning six of their last seven games including twice beating the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants, twice at Giants Stadium, first in Week 14 and then again last weekend to knock them out of the playoffs.
It can be argued that the Eagles winning steak starting against the very Cardinals team they will be facing on Sunday. The Eagles were 5-5-1 when faced they Arizona and Thanksgiving night, the 48-20 route helped to put the team’s season back on track.
Keep An Eye On: Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles - Last time Westbrook went up against the Cardinals he had 130 total yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. MST
BALTIMORE RAVENS vs. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Why You Should Watch: Not only is this a matchup between two bitter AFC North rivals, not only did the two teams finish the season No. 1 (Steelers) and No. 2 (Ravens) in the league in the total defense but this is the AFC Championship – winner goes to the Super Bowl. Expect a gritty contest where both teams leave everything they have out on the field.
Make no mistake about it, this will be a defensive slugfest. The Steelers were tops in the NFL allowing only 237.2 yards per contest. The Ravens enter the game with the league’s second-ranked defense in terms of yardage, allowing just 261.1 yards per game during the regular season.
The two clubs met twice in the regular season with Steelers coming away victorious in both. In each contest the margin of victory was less than a touchdown. In Week 15 Pittsburgh pulled off the 13-9 win and in Week 4 the Steelers edged the Ravens in overtime on a 46-yard field goal winning 23-20.
Keep An Eye On: Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers - In such a defensive battle the winner of the AFC Championship could be decided by a yard or possibly an inch. That is why Parker could be a game breaker. He leads all post-season running backs in yards per game with 146 and had two touchdown scores last week.
-Jake Grilley, DenverBronocos.com