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
Mike: 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
Mike: 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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