Divisional Round Predictions

Matt RyanLast week was a solid one for my predictions as I didn’t miss picking the games straight up and did ok against the spread. All the games this week have some very interesting story lines so it looks to be another fantastic weekend of playoff football.

Wild card weekend results:

Straight up: 4-0

Against the Spread: 2-2

Ravens 17 Broncos (-9.5) 28: The Ravens came out last week and played inspired against a young Colts team that wasn’t quite ready for the moment. That won’t be the case against a Broncos team led by Peyton Manning. This isn’t the same Ravens defense of old and there should be matchups that Manning can take advantage of. If the Broncos are able to get out to an early lead and make the Ravens play from behind, they should be able to create turnovers with their defense which as a whole is being underrated.

Packers 27 49ers (-3.5) 21: This is a rematch of a week one matchup that the 49ers won in Lambeau Field. Lots of things have changed since then as Colin Kaepernick is now the 49ers starting quarterback and Aaron Rodgers is fully adjusted to his new offensive coordinator. The more I watch this Packers team, they continue to remind me of their team from 2010 that made a run to win it all. It should be interesting to watch how Kaepernick plays in his first career playoff game. He’s impressed in regular season action but the pressure isn’t nearly the same as the playoffs where you win or go home. With the Packers improving weekly on both sides of the ball, I’m just not sold that the 49ers have the personnel to win in a shootout.

Seahawks 20 Falcons (-2.5) 24: The Seahawks really impressed me last week. For a young team to be down 14-0 early in a playoff game, keeping their cool and coming back to win the game says something about the players in that locker room. This one may be too much for them to overcome.  The Seahawks top pass rusher Chris Clemons tore his ACL last week and is done for the season. Bruce Irvin who showed flashes that he could be a highly effective pass rusher really needs to step up this week.  For the Seahawks on offense look for Marshawn Lynch to continue getting the ball early and often. The Falcons are a little banged up on the defensive front and Lynch will take full advantage. A key matchup to watch is Roddy White and Julio Jones against the cornerback duo of Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. All four players are very physical and both corners have the size to matchup with any receiver in the league. Matt Ryan is still looking for his first career playoff win and against a team dealing with key injuries and long flights this week could be the one.

Texans 17 Patriots (-9.5) 33: When these two teams played in the regular season, this game was supposed to be one of the year’s best. It ended up being a lopsided one that was over by the third quarter. I’m still not totally sold on the Texans yet. There are a lot of things to like about the team but their secondary can be exploited. The Bengals hung in with the Texans but they just didn’t enough weapons in the passing game to make it work. That is far from the case with Tom Brady and the Patriots who can beat you with six to seven players in the passing game. Look for Brady to come out throwing early and often so he can get the Texans out of their game plan of giving Arian Foster 25 or more touches.

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