NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions
Road to the Super Bowl
There are eight teams left after 18 weeks of football. Wildcard weekend proved to be somewhat of a disappointment. A lot of sloppy play resulted in the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers moving on in the playoffs. The Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings just did not show up to play at a playoff level. The Vikings were without QB Christian Ponder and his replacement, QB Joe Webb, looked worse than New York Jets QB Tim Tebow.
The Bengals and Indianapolis Colts did not score and offensive touchdown. QB Andrew Luck had a decent game against the Baltimore Ravens, but could not get his team in the end zone. Bengals QB Andy Dalton looked lost for the second year in a row against the Texans.
The Seattle Seahawks won their game against the Washington Redskins after being down by 14 points. QB Robert Griffin III injured his knee on the second touchdown drive, which probably resulted in his ACL and LCL blowing up later in the game.The Redskins did not threaten a physical Seattle defense the rest of the game.
After all of the mediocre play, the best eight teams are still left in the playoffs. Anybody who is not a fan of the Texans or Ravens is hoping for a showdown between Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos and Tom Brady's New England Patriots for the AFC championship. However, anything can happen in the playoffs, we have seen it time and time again.
Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan is still looking for his first playoff win. He will be going against the Seattle secondary, which proved to be one of the best in the league. The Falcons may struggle with the physical aspect of the game on Sunday.
If there were to be a game of the week, it would be between the Packers and San Francisco 49ers. The Packers are once again hot at the right time and the 49ers start a young quarterback after a week off with no playoffs experience. The 49ers may struggle early in this one.
Every team that is left deserves to be here. I do not believe in upsets in the playoffs and blowouts are rare. Here are my divisional round playoff predictions. Who do you think will move on?
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Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
The Ravens are riding their Ray Lewis inspiration until their season is over. The Broncos are just a good football team. They have a better defense and more fire power on offense. For the Ravens to win this game they will need to threaten Peyton Manning in the pocket and get their run game going. They need to win the time of possession battle. If there is one thing we have learned about Peyton Manning in the past, it's if you give him enough time, he is going to make you regret it. Another thing to keep in mind here, Manning is 9-0 in his last nine starts against the Ravens. He owns this team.
Prediction: Mr. Manning makes it an even ten. Ravens 16, Broncos 27
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
The Packers will travel to Candlestick Park to take on the 49ers. The Packers will actually need to run a balanced offense to win this game. The last thing they want is the 49ers front four to not have to worry about the run. Justin Smith will probably play this weekend. What does that mean? LB Aldon Smith will be a factor again attacking the passer. The 49ers beat the Packers on the road in their meeting in week one, but that was a long time ago. QB Colin Kaepernick will get his first playoff start and Aaron Rodgers is going to show him how to play quarterback.
Prediction: Alex Smith says "dude, I would have won that game". Packers 30, 49ers 20
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
This is one of the more intriguing games of the weekend. One of the best offenses, with some of the best wide receivers vs. one of the best defenses, with one of the best secondaries. The X-factor in this game will be Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez. He does not have a single playoff win to his name, so the Seahawks are going against that type of feel good story. The Seahawks front four, including rookie DE Bruce Irvin are going to have to get some pressure on QB Matt Ryan. If they have to blitz he is going to find the open receiver almost every time. The Falcons defense is going to have to deal with RB Marshawn Lynch and that is something I do not think they can handle.
Prediction: Matt Ryan looks all around for his first playoff win, but can't find it. Seahawks 34, Falcons 17
Houston Texans at New England Patriots
The Patriots tore the Texans up in their regular season matchup at home. QB Matt Schaub did not look great then and he did not look great in his first playoff game last weekend. QB Tom Brady has been here before. Yes, it is the playoffs, so he will be playing a little harder, but it's just another day at the office for him. The Patriots have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL and a top 10 run defense. If the Texans are going to have any chance, Schaub and Andre Johnson are going to have to connect early and often. The Patriots want to find some balance. Make the Texans stop RB Stevan Ridley before they get too carried away with the passing game.
Prediction: Brady gives Manning a call after the game and is like "sup? You ready to do this?" Texans 10, Patriots 27