Back on Oct. 5, Tennessee rallied from a 10-3 fourth-quarter deficit to win 13-10 at Baltimore with the help of a bad call: a blow-to-the-head penalty on Terrell Suggs that actually was a blow to Kerry Collins' shoulder.
It came on third-and-10 and extended an 80-yard winning drive for the Titans that also demonstrated Collins was more than a caretaker quarterback keeping the position warm for Vince Young. But had the result been different, these teams might be meeting Saturday in Baltimore rather than Nashville.
Baltimore-Tennessee is not the only replay in the NFL's second round of playoffs. Hardly.
All the second-round playoff games are rematches of regular-season games: Arizona (10-7) at Carolina (12-4), and the Ravens (12-5) and Titans (13-3) on Saturday; Philadelphia (10-6-1) against the division rival New York Giants (12-4), and San Diego (9-8) at Pittsburgh (12-4) on Sunday.
And unlike this week, when the home teams all were underdogs, things are as they should be next week — the home teams are favored.
In the AFC, the Tennessee is favored by 3 over Baltimore and Pittsburgh by 6 over San Diego. In the NFC, the Giants are 4 1/2 -point favorites, and the Panthers 9 1/2 points over the Cardinals.
AFC Both road teams have real shots.
Baltimore travels well because any team that creates turnovers the way the Ravens do doesn't really need a home-field advantage. After all, they took the ball away five times Sunday in their 27-9 win in Miami against a team that had only 13 turnovers all season, tied for the fewest in the NFL.
They also can run, a three-back group headed by Le'Ron McClain that can wear down defenses and take the pressure off Joe Flacco.
The Chargers go into Pittsburgh as the league's hottest team, one that ended Indianapolis' nine-game winning streak 23-17 in overtime Saturday night; it was San Diego's fifth straight win after an inexplicable 4-8 record. Ben Roethlisberger sustained a concussion in the Steelers' final regular-season game. He says he'll play, but under league rules, concussions remains a medical decision.
NFC As the odds demonstrate, Arizona has less chance than Philadelphia at springing an upset, although the Cardinals were competitive in Charlotte in their first meeting with the Panthers, losing 27-23 on Oct. 26 in a game in which Kurt Warner threw for 381 yards. The Cardinals led 17-3 in the second quarter and took a 23-17 lead late in the third quarter after Carolina came back.
But they don't stop the run well, which means trouble with the Carolina tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. And they don't run well themselves despite a better effort than usual in Saturday's upset of Atlanta, when the Cardinals trotted out forgotten Edgerrin James for 73 yards on 16 carries.
The Giants beat the Eagles 36-31 in Philadelphia and were cruising at 11-1 when the Eagles came to the Meadowlands on Dec. 7. Philadelphia won 20-14, the Giants' defense had trouble getting stops, and their only offensive touchdown came in garbage time.
But that came at a point where New York was probably too assured it would get the home-field advantage and was feeling comfortable. It will be primed this week after its bye.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun