Last weekend in the NFL wildcard round, I went a flawless 4-0 in my picks. This weekend the Divisional rounds offer some of the best NFL matchups of the season and present a bigger challenge in picking the winners.
LAST WEEKS PICKS
Let’s start with the AFC:
Baltimore @ Denver– The Ravens remind me of an old clunker of a car, they are OK at home but you don’t want to take them on the road. While the Ravens have played well at home, they went 4-4 this season on the road. They have also not been very good against the run on defense ranking only 20th in rush defense.
Manning and the Broncos beat the Ravens in Baltimore 34-17 on December 16. With the way the Broncos are playing, I just can’t give the Ravens much of a chance in this one. It’s a repeat.
Prediction: Broncos 34 Ravens 17
Texans @ Patriots- These two teams played recently too with Brady and the Patriots rolling up the Texans 42-14 on December 10. The Texans have scored less than 20 points in 4 of their last 5 games including their win last week against the Bengals. We can all agree that 20 points will not get them a win against the Patriots who are the top scoring team in the NFL at 35 points a game.
Prediction: Patriots 42 Texans 14.
Now the NFC where I expect games to be more competitive and tougher to pick:
Packers @ 49ers- These two teams met way back in week one at Greenbay with the 49ers winning 30-22. In that game, the 49ers RBs rushed for 151 yards. I do think the Packers defense is playing better now than then but still are 17th against the run.
The Packers are 4-4 on the road this year and the 49ers are 2nd in the NFL on defense in points allowed at 17 per game.
Aaron Rodgers is capable of leading his team to an upset in San Francisco but I believe the 49ers will win this one.
Prediction: 49ers 24 Packers 21.
Seahawks @ Falcons– Last week the Seahawks demonstrated that they can win on the road in a hostile environment which is what they will face when they play in the Georgia Dome. It will be loud and the Falcons are tough to beat at home. The Falcons only home loss this season was the last game to the Buccaneers. It was a game with nothing at stake for the Falcons and I don’t think they really tried to win that one.
The Falcons defense has allowed a lot of yards this season on the ground and the air however they haven’t allowed a lot of points which matters the most. While they are at the bottom in several defensive stats, they are 5th in points allowed.
In turnovers, which seem to play a big role in playoff games, the Falcons and Seahawks are tied at 4th in the NFC in takeaways/giveaways. They both have a plus 13. These two teams don’t tend to beat themselves. The Seahawks are the top defense in the NFL in points allowed. Ryan and the Falcons will be challenged to move the ball for sure.
One stat area that jumps out is that the Seahawks offense ranks 3rd in rushing while the Falcons defense ranks 21st in rush defense. Lynch could be a problem for the Falcons.
A good match up here that should provide a great game. The Falcons are 3-2 in their last 5 games while the Seahawks are 5-0.
This season the Falcons were 2-0 against playoff teams while the Seahawks were 4-1. If this were played in Seattle, I would go with the Seahawks but I think the Falcons find a way to win at home.
Prediction: Falcons 23 Seahawks 20.