CARDINALS AT SAINTS, 1:30 p.m., CH. 13
The skinny: Arizona comes off its wild win over Green Bay and now goes on the road to face a well-rested team – as it did last year when it dismantled Carolina in a similar spot. QB Kurt Warner (five touchdown passes last week) works against a defense that tailed off in the second half of the season and ranks 26th against the pass. The Saints’ top-ranked offense also declined significantly down the stretch (no more than 17 points in any of their final three games). Arizona’s defense was only 23rd against the pass during the regular season and allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for 423 yards last weekend. Bombs away. In this round of the playoffs, in which a rested team is at home to face a foe that played the previous week, home teams are 54-22 since the current playoff format began in 1990.
The pick: Saints 34, Cardinals 30
RAVENS AT COLTS, 5:15 p.m., CH. 7
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The skinny: Indy plays its first meaningful game in a month, and the key is how long it will take for the Colts to regain the form that led to a 14-0 mark. The Colts, under QB Peyton Manning, have won their past seven meetings with the Ravens. But Baltimore brings in the NFL’s third-ranked defense and comes off a dominant playoff victory last week over the Patriots. However, the Ravens got a big early lead in that one and QB Joe Flacco was called on to throw just 10 times (completing only four) as RB Ray Rice took control of the game. Even though Rice and his mates in the backfield will be facing the 24th-ranked run defense, Indy will be intent on trying to open a significant early lead to make Flacco – who has been nursing a hip ailment – have to open things up much more than he did last weekend and make him contend with sack-happy DE Dwight Freeney.
The pick: Colts 27, Ravens 17
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