Cardinals To Continue Upset Run? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Cardinals To Continue Upset Run?

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The Arizona Cardinals haven't won any kind of championship beyond a division title in 61 years.

The oddsmakers don't think they will on Sunday either. Even with the NFC title game at home in their climate-controlled stadium, they are 3 1/2 point underdogs to Philadelphia.

That seems right for two reasons.

One is the 48-20 beating administered to Arizona by the Eagles on Thanksgiving night, one of several late-season lopsided losses the Cardinals absorbed.

Another is the fact this is Philadelphia's fifth NFC title game since the 2001 season, just five fewer than the total number of playoff games the Cardinals have played since beating Philadelphia 28-21 for the 1947 NFL championship as the Chicago Cardinals. In fact, until they upset Carolina last week, the Cardinals were the only NFC team not to have made it to a conference title game since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

On the other hand, the Cards are certainly better at home: 7-2, including their first-round playoff win over Atlanta; they are 4-5 on the road. And any team is dangerous with an experienced quarterback like Kurt Warner and a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald, who can pluck the ball out of the air no matter how closely he's covered.

But Warner has to be protected. Despite a glorious history that includes two MVP awards and a Super Bowl MVP, he is prone to turning the ball over under pressure. In that regular-season loss in Philly, he threw three interceptions.

Beyond that, the Eagles have won six of their last seven games.

And road teams have been winning in the playoffs - this season and last.

EAGLES, 24-20

Baltimore (plus 6) at Pittsburgh

This spread is only one point less than the total of seven by which the Steelers beat the Ravens twice; 23-20 in Pittsburgh and 13-9 in Baltimore. That latter game was decided by replay when referee Walt Coleman overturned a no-TD call on the field and decided that Santonio Holmes had the ball about an inch or two into the end zone on the winning touchdown reception.

But the Steelers are playing as well now as they had all season. Willie Parker finally has shaken the injuries that plagued him all year, and that gives Pittsburgh a running game it has lacked, taking a lot of the pressure off Ben Roethlisberger.

Baltimore's vaunted defense, meanwhile, allowed 391 yards to Tennessee, but won because of three Titans turnovers and an injury that kept outstanding rookie running back Chris Johnson out in the second half.

This one won't be as close.

STEELERS, 21-13

LAST WEEK: 2-2 (spread); 2-2 (straight up)

PAYOFFS 4-4 spread 4-4 straight up.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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