Back again with hopefully more accurate predictions for the NFL Divisional Playoff Round…
Only went 2-2 last week with the picks for who would win, so let’s see if I can do better this week.
Chargers @ Broncos – Broncos win 34-27
Sure the Chargers went into Denver in early December and beat the Broncos by completely owning the Time of Possession with a run-heavy attack. But, I just don’t see that happening again. Peyton and the offense will be able to score against the San Diego defense and although the Chargers will move the ball against the Denver defense, they will come up just short. Peyton will not allow this team to lose this game this week. Who knows, Peyton could play terribly as he has done in past playoffs, but I’m not seeing it this week. Peyton will go for his usual 300 yards, 3 touchdowns. People make it seem like Peyton is the worst playoff QB ever, his record is 9 and 11 with a Super Bowl ring. The Broncos certainly have their flaws, but so does every team at this point, and their offense will be good enough this week to overcome those flaws.
Colts @ Patriots – Patriots win 28-17
Tom Brady will find a way to get his Patriots in the end zone. The Colts will see plenty of Blount, Ridley, and Vereen, but it will fall back on Tom to make plays, as it almost always does. The difference maker in this one will be Aqib Talib locking down on Colts #1 Wide Receiver TY Hilton. Coach Belichick always tried to take away what the other team does best, so he will take away Hilton and much of the Colts passing attack, forcing the Colts to win with the ground game. Donald Brown is a solid NFL running back and Trent Richardson at times is a decent running back, but the tandem will not be able to do enough to overcome the Patriots offense this week.
Saints @ Seahawks – Saints win 27-20
Many will point to the Seahawks Week 13 beatdown of the Saints 34-7 and say that the Saints have no shot. Well these aren’t the same Saints and aren’t the same Seahawks. Neither team played particularly well down the stretch and although Seattle is 7-1 at home and play very well in front of the 12th man, Sean Payton and his Saints come marching into town after a hard fought win in Philadelphia. Drew Brees will not allow the Seattle defense to dominate this offense once again and will play relatively mistake free quarterback. Of course Seattle will get their stops, but the Saints offense will put up enough points to win. Rob Ryan’s defense will do well against these Seahawks as Seattle does not have a dynamic offense. Lynch may find running room against this team, but Russell Wilson will have minimal success against a very good Saints pass defense.
49ers @ Panthers – 49ers win 31-17
A surprising pick for my most lopsided projection as these two teams played to a 10-9 Panthers win in San Francisco earlier in the year. But, the 49ers have their “swagger” back and are playing physical football on both sides. The defense is playing well up front and getting after the quarterback, and has been a main contributor in the current 7 game win streak. Michael Crabtree has been getting better and better in this offense and Colin Kaepernick has improved his passing game dramatically since his return from injury. I see Crabtree having another huge game as Kaepernick throws and scrambles his way to a great game. The Panthers have only lost once since Week 6 and have a good defense, but the offense is suspect. There are games when they look great and others, not so much. What they do best in run the football, but that also happens to oppose a major strength of the 49ers, stopping the run. I don’t think the 49ers will allow the Panthers to run the football and will force Cam Newton to be them through the air, which he will do unsuccessfully.
This will set up the dream AFC Championship Matchup of New England @ Denver and a final Playoff Game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco as the 49ers would host the Saints.