Divisional Round Playoff Picks – Sunday Games

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 14, 2011 – 1:20 pm

We’ve already shared our picks for Saturday’s games. Here are the picks for Sunday’s games…

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears – Sunday, 12:00 p.m. CT on FOX
It was great to see Seattle – whom few people gave a chance – defeat the New Orleans Saints last week at home. That victory might inspire some to forecast another Seahawks upset this weekend against a team that many still don’t believe in despite a division championship. But I don’t see another big upset; I see Chicago winning and winning big. The Bears defense is superior to New Orleans’ and that will be apparent on Sunday. In Seattle’s victory at Soldier Field earlier in the regular season, Bears LB Lance Briggs didn’t play, the offensive line was in shambles and QB Jay Cutler hadn’t begun playing well yet. But all of that is different this weekend, which will yield a different result. Bears win convincingly.
Prediction: Bears 27, Seahawks 10

Ryan: Despite the fact they are the #2 seed in the NFC, the Chicago Bears – on paper – got a much better draw for the Divisional Round than the top-seeded Falcons did as Chicago prepares to play host to the Seahawks, who of course finished the season with a 7-9 record.  One of those 7 wins though was in Chicago against the Bears back in Week 6.  However, despite that loss, it would be a huge upset if the Seahawks were to win again in Chicago this weekend.  Seattle already pulled off one huge upset in knocking off the defending Super Bowl champion Saints last weekend, but that was a home game against a depleted New Orleans team.  The Bears are, for the most part, healthy and aside from their Week 14 clunker against the Patriots have been playing very good football down the stretch.
Prediction: Bears 24, Seahawks 14

C.J.: We all learned last week never to write off any team when it comes to the playoffs, as the Seahawks beat all odds in defeating the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. On Sunday, the Seahawks will make their 2nd appearance at Soldier Field this season and if they follow the same blueprint as their Week 6 victory over the Bears – a steady offense and pressure defense – they will come away will a similar result. The Bears boast a stout defense, but are also inconsistent. In their last 4 games they’ve given up 36, 14, 34 and 10 points (in that order) and if that trend continues, it looks as if the Seahawks will be putting up big points. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch will need to be in “beast mode” again if Seattle is to pull off a 2nd consecutive upset.
Prediction: Seahawks 34 Bears 28

NY Jets at New England Patriots – Sunday, 3:30 p.m. CT on CBS
A divisional rivalry will reach its boiling point to cap a great weekend of playoff football and the Patriots will do enough to come out on top of what I suspect will be a closer game than many anticipate. The Patriots have been installed as 9-point favorites in this game – largely because of their 42-point win over the Jets just a month ago – and at first glance I judged that as a big aggressive. But then I put a few things together: 1)Tom Brady is the likely MVP, 2) the Patriots are rested and the Jets are coming off a tightly-contested win last weekend, 3) Brady doesn’t lose at home and 4) karma is working against the Jets because they trash-talk too much. I believe in karma and I believe in the Patriots at home, so I’m siding with Bill Belichick, Brady and Co.
Prediction: Patriots 33, Jets 19

Ryan: As is the case with all of the games on Divisional Weekend, the matchup between the Jets and Patriots is a rematch from the regular season.  The teams split their 2 previous meetings, but the only game people are talking about this week is New England’s 45-3 beatdown of the Jets in Week 13.  That game aside, the Patriots have been by far the best team in the NFL from start to finish and are riding an 8-game winning streak into Sunday’s game.  The Jets pulled off a nice win last Saturday in Indianapolis, but finished the season going just 2-3.  QB Mark Sanchez has 3 road playoff wins to his credit in just 2 seasons in the NFL, which is certainly impressive, but it’s tough to see the Jets winning this weekend, though the game could be closer than some people think.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Jets 24

C.J.: Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan has deemed this matchup as “Rex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick,” but neither of the coaches will be making plays on the field, so in my eyes the main matchup to watch in this contest will be Patriots QB Tom Brady vs. the Jets defense. Who will get the best of who? Brady hasn’t thrown an INT in his last 335 pass attempts – dating back to the Week 6 victory over the Ravens – and if he can continue that trend, the Patriots will be unbeatable at home.  Brady – a 3-time Super Bowl champ and former MVP – poses little concern in a playoff matchup, but his counterpart, Jets QB Marc Sanchez, has far less playoff experience, creating a huge mismatch.
Prediction: Patriots 31 Jets 21

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Divisional Round Playoff Picks – Saturday Games

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 14, 2011 – 10:41 am

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for playoff predictions – this time for the Divisional Round. Last week Ryan, CJ and I picked the Wild Card games and Ryan came out on top with a 3-1 record. His reward was an open forum on Monday morning in which he talked about the performance of young QBs in the Wild Card round and the state of the Vikings QB position.

So we’ll have the same deal this weekend. The 3 of us will pick the games and the winner will have an open forum on Monday morning to discuss a topic of their choice.

Let’s get to the games!

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers – Saturday, 3:30 p.m. CT on CBS
The Ravens playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last week went just as I anticipated – I predicted a 24-point victory and they won by 23 points. This week, though, I’m not seeing the Ravens-Steelers game as clearly. These are division rivals playing for the 3rd time this year – they split in the regular season – and this could very well be the best game of the weekend. I’m picking the Steelers for the following reasons: 1) Ravens playing on a short week, 2) Steelers playing at home, 3) Troy Polamalu is healthy and playing and 4) Ben Roethlisberger will play better than Matt Cassel did last week.
Prediction: Steelers 21, Ravens 17

Ryan: In what is almost assuredly going to be the most physical matchup of the upcoming weekend, the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers in the 3rd meeting of the year between the two teams.  The Steelers dropped the first meeting of the season at home to the Ravens by a 17-14 score back in Week 4, but avenged that loss with a 13-10 win at Baltimore in Week 13.  Like the two prior meetings, this one figures to come down to the wire as the two teams are very similar: young but proven QBs, powerful ground games, some explosiveness at the WR position and sound defenses.  The key to the game could be the Steelers ability to protect Ben Roethlisberger.  Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been banged up all year, and you know the Ravens are going to present a strong pass-rush to try to rattle Big Ben.
Prediction: Ravens 17, Steelers 16

C.J.: Hide your kids, hide your wife, this game has all the makings of a brutal slug fest that may come down to which team’s defense can make bigger plays. The Ravens got off to a shaky start against the Kansas City Chiefs last week in the Wild Card Round, but settled down and forced 5 turnovers in the convincing 30-7 road victory. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t lost to the Ravens since 2006 (he didn’t play in the Steelers loss to Baltimore this year), had an extra week to heal and is playing in front of a home crowd, but I feel that Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense will ride their momentum from last week in a hard-fought and closely-contested matchup.
Prediction: Ravens 20 Steelers 17


Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons – Saturday, 7:00 p.m. CT on FOX
This game actually reminds me of last year’s Divisional Round playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Vikings. In that contest, the Cowboys were the trendy pick to knock off the Vikings, despite playing on the road, because they were coming off a Wild Card Round win and had momentum. The Vikings had a week off because of a 1st-round bye and many wondered if the offense would come out rusty. In this contest, the Packers are the trendy pick because they have momentum coming off their road Wild Card Round win over Philadelphia last weekend. But I think Atlanta will play the part of the Vikings; they are a sleeping Giant in the NFC and will awake on Saturday night. The Vikings blew away the Cowboys last year by a 34-4 count, but I don’t think Atlanta will have as easy a time. Look for a moderately-high scoring game that will see the Falcons get the last score.
Prediction: Falcons 24, Packers 20

Ryan: The Packers were 1 of 3 road teams to claim a victory on Wild Card Weekend, and they’ll look to do so again this weekend in Atlanta, where they are 0-1 this season thanks to a 20-17 loss in Week 12.  Falcons QB Matt Ryan is 20-2 in his career at the Georgia Dome and the #1 seeds in the NFC (which the Falcons are) have lost just twice in the Divisional Round of the playoffs since 1990.  Atlanta has just 1 loss in their last 10 games as well.  Green Bay was able to take advantage of a beat-up and slumping Eagles team last week and barely won, but their run will come to an end this week as the Falcons will move on to host the NFC Championship game a week from Sunday.
Prediction: Falcons 27, Packers 20

C.J.: It seems to me that everyone is jumping on the Packer bandwagon after their road-victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but I’m not buying in. Sure, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw 3 TDs and no picks against the Eagles, but Green Bay has relied too heavily on the big defensive play to pull out wins – last week it was the game-ending INT by CB Tramon Williams. Also, counting on “fill-ins” RB James Starks and TE Tom Crabtree to create offensive production can only last so long in the playoffs. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has an amazing track record playing at home and the bye week will prepare him and the rest of the team for an exciting shoot-out.
Prediction: Falcons 27 Packers 24

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