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My picks, explained

And now, because public embarrassment has never been something we've shied away from here on the Blob, my picks for this weekend's NFL playoff games (with explanations!):

* Arizona at New Orleans: Remember that 51-45 track meet the Cardinals won against Green Bay last week? This could be an instant replay. The Cardinals' defense couldn't stop water running uphill. The Saints;"D" hasn't been much better the last couple of months. And you've got Drew Brees chucking it for one team, and Kurt Warner chucking it for the other.

It's a close call, but I'll take Warner, one of the greatest playoff quarterbacks ever. Can't pick against him at this point.

So: Cardinals 41, Saints 38.

* Baltimore at Indianapolis: The suddenly sexy pick here is the Ravens, coming off their utter dismantling of the Patriots last week. Past experience, however, tells me never to trust the sexy pick. The people making it, for instance, are so over-the-moon about the Ravens' defense that they seem to have forgotten that the Colts had one of the league's best defenses until they took their foot off the gas the last two games. Plus, I have a feeling they're fed up with taking guff for the last two games. An angry Peyton Manning is not a Peyton Manning I'm willing to bet against.

So: Colts 27, Ravens 17.

* Dallas at Minnesota: This one should be easy. Minnesota's at home, the game's indoors, it's Brett Favre vs. Tony Romo in a playoff game. And yet ... I've never taken the easy way out. This one's about matchups to me, and the matchup that jumps out is the Vikings' struggling offensive line vs. the Cowboys' dynamic defensive front seven. Frankly, it's no contest. The Pokes get pressure on Favre, and Favre makes the kind of mistakes he tends to make when he's under pressure and trying to make something happen.

So: Cowboys 24, Vikings 20.

* New York at San Diego: Yeah, I know what Rex Ryan says about his Super Bowl favorite Jets. And, yeah, I like the Jets' defense, and I like the way Mark Sanchez has regained his poise after a rough middle of the season. But I like Philip Rivers better than I like the Jets "D"; and I don't like a rookie quarterback's chances on the road against the hottest team in football.

So: Chargers 24, Jets 14.

That is all. Feel free to commence ridiculing.

Ben Smith's blog.

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