NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

playoffs_divisional_10_webAfter an 0-4 Wild Card weekend, SkoodSports needs to picks its game up. Our Super Bowl pick of Green Bay is finished. As are our beloved Eagles and Andy Reid’s Chiefs, who put together the second largest second half gag-job in the league’s history. No comment about choking is complete without mentioning the Bengals, who committed 4 turnovers in a loss to San Diego.

This week, the matchups intensify. In what is known by many as the greatest sports weekend of the year, rivalvies will be renewed between the Colts-Pats, Chargers-Broncos, 49ers-Panthers, and Saints-Seahawks. As it stands now, only one of the underdogs is being given much of a chance. Does SkoodSports support this notion and will the projected AFC champion Patriots go down in their first game? Let’s find out:

New Orleans Saints AT Seattle Seahawks

The Spread: Seattle by 8
The Pick: New Orleans
The Score: Seattle, 29-24
The Rationale: Over the last 30 years, 12 teams have beaten opponents by 27+ points and then gone on to face them again in the playoffs. In that time frame, 8 of the 12 underdogs who originally lost won the postseason rematch. I don’t see that happening in this case. Though, New Orleans should make it much more of a ballgame than their inaugural matchup two months ago.

Drew Brees will need his A game, which means the line in front of him will have to perform better than they did in Seattle last time. If the Saints can establish their running game like they did last week, they’ll have a fighter’s chance at winning this thing. As for Seattle, the Seahawks have home field, a place they have lost only once in two seasons. Russell Wilson has struggled since beating the Saints in November. If the Seahawks have delusions of Super Bowl grandeur, that will need to end.

Indianapolis Colts AT New England Patriots

The Spread: New England by 7.5
The Pick: Indianapolis
The Score: New England, 27-24
The Rationale: New England by 7.5? This is the same Patriots team that didn’t beat anybody by more than a touchdown until week 16, right? I think New England has a slight edge in this game thanks to their running game and defense. But, make no mistake, this game is going to come down to the final possession. Andrew Luck has just been too resilient to consider more than a touchdown underdog. This isn’t Peyton Manning we’re talking about.

San Francisco 49ers AT Carolina Panthers

The Spread: Pick ’em
The Pick: Carolina
The Score: Carolina, 18-17
The Rationale: An unusual score for an unusual game in today’s NFL. This divisional matchup will feature two teams that rely on stout defense and a rampant running game to get them where they are. I think that these just might be the two best teams in the NFL right now. The 49ers are coming off of an exciting, last second victory over Green Bay. I wonder how much of an affect playing in -15 degree weather will have on them this week, when they venture to sunny North Carolina.

The Panthers might just be my pick to win the Super Bowl at this point. Carolina possesses a brilliant defense, led by Luke Kuechly, and a dynamic offense commanded by Cam Newton. The Panthers defeated the 49ers a couple of months ago, 10-9. They are have lost only once (@ New Orleans) since October 6th.

San Diego Chargers AT Denver Broncos

The Spread: Denver by 9.5
The Pick: San Diego
The Score: San Diego, 38-35
The Rationale: There’s always got to be one upset in the divisonal round. Why not make this year’s version similar to last year’s massive choke job by Peyton and the Broncos? Denver is clearly the better team on paper. But, these games are won on the gridiron, not on a roster sheet. It’s no secret that Manning hasn’t exactly been “Eli-like” in the playoffs. The king of one-and-dones might get another if Denver is unable to get a pass rush on Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers. The former NC State star went 12-16 for 128 yards and a touchdown last week, continuing to perform efficiently in critical situations. He’ll certainly be relied on more this week.

Denver is without their best pass rusher in Von Miller. If they cannot adequately replace him, I could see San Diego putting together long, enduring drives behind their running duo of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. That then sets up the play action pass, which could thrive with their dual Tight End sets and dynamic rookie WR Keenan Allen. In the end, I see it coming down to a massive manning brain fart and a Nick Novak game winning field goal.

Note: This prediction may just have something to do with the consecutive streak of Eagles’ home opening opponents winning the Super Bowl. Since 2009, the team that the Eagles have played in their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field has gone on to win the Super Bowl. Let’s check it out:

2009: New Orleans Saints won opener, 48-22. Won Super Bowl vs. Colts, 31-17
2010: Green Bay Packers won opener, 27-20. Won Super Bowl vs. Steelers, 31-25
2011: New York Giants won opener 29-16. Won Super Bowl vs. Patriots, 21-17
2012: Baltimore Ravens lost opener, 24-23. Won Super Bowl vs. 49ers, 34-31

Can San Diego make it five in a row? We’ll find out soon enough.

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