KICKOFF: Saturday, 4:30 ET
TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf)
19th meeting. The series is tied 8-8 in the regular season, plus 1-1 in the postseason. Saturday's matchup is eerily similar to the 2000 playoffs when Tennessee had the No. 1 seed in the AFC, only to falter to the Ravens, who came in and took a 24-10 victory and went on to win Super Bowl XXXV.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Titans will see a different Joe Flacco than the version they pressured into a pair of interceptions three months ago. Flacco is doing more than just managing the game these days, and coach John Harbaugh proved last week he isn't afraid to let his strong-armed rookie take a few deep shots in the playoffs. But Tennessee's defensive line can absolutely control a game and set up the opportunistic secondary. So Baltimore will attempt to establish RB Le'Ron McLain early and see just how healthy Titans DT Albert Haynesworth and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch are.
The Titans know they can't afford to fall behind - not against the Ravens pass rush and not with Reed so dangerous when he's able to hone in and break on passes in front of him. Tennessee must run the ball behind RBs Chris Johnson and LenDale White, control the clock and keep QB Kerry Collins from being backed into long passing situations. The biggest obstacle could be the likelihood of Leroy Harris starting in place of C Kevin Mawae. Mawae is the lynchpin to the line who calls out blocking assignments, and he's one of the few centers adept at getting out to pull on running plays.
The Ravens have allowed an opening-drive touchdown just once in their past 20 games.
Collins is 3-0 in his career as a starter at home in the postseason.
Arizona Cardinals (10-7) at Carolina Panthers (12-4)
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8:15 ET
TV: FOX (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)
9th meeting. Panthers lead series 6-2. The Panthers have won five straight against Arizona under coach John Fox, including a 27-23 win on Oct. 26. In that game, Steve Smith caught five passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, while DeAngelo Williams ran for 108 yards and one score as the Panthers overcame a 17-3 second-half deficit. This is the first postseason meeting between the two teams.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Cardinals have done a better job of incorporating the ground game the past two weeks with RB Edgerrin James showing fresh legs. They need to sustain drives knowing the Panthers have a run-based offense, but the Cardinals still don't give James consistent carries. Arizona's chances hinge on its ability to protect QB Kurt Warner. Carolina has given up 178 first downs through the air and 19 passing touchdowns, and Warner threw for 381 yards in the first meeting. However, Warner's downfield arsenal would take a significant hit if WR Anquan Boldin is unable to play.
The Cardinals' front seven limited Falcons RB Michael Turner to 42 rushing yards last weekend by using the home-field advantage to fly off the ball. Arizona has to find a way to generate a similar push on the road against RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Panthers QB Jake Delhomme is generally considered streaky, but his 95.0 career postseason passer rating ranks third all-time behind only Bart Starr and Joe Montana among players with at least 150 attempts. Arizona will need to use eight men against the run, leaving CBs Rod Hood and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to hold their own in a lot of man coverage.
Arizona was 0-5 in the Eastern time zone in the regular season, losing by a combined 99 points.
Warner is 37-11 lifetime as a start indoors compared to 21-33 outside.