The Vikings are out of the playoffs. But the playoffs will indeed continue. While our favorite team is no longer participating, the drama is too good to turn away from. Let’s take a quick look at each matchup, pose one question for each matchup and offer one prediction in each matchup.
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos – Saturday 3:30 p.m. CT on CBS
After going 9-2 through their first 11 games, the Baltimore Ravens hit a late-season skid and lost 4 of their last 5, including a 34-17 decision at home to this very Denver Broncos team. But Baltimore got back on the winning track last week by dominating the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round, winning 24-9 during an emotional return by leader Ray Lewis.
The Broncos were the opposite of Baltimore this season - they were slow starters who finished on fire. Denver lost 2 of its first 3 games, but now they haven’t lost since Week 5. That’s not a typo. The Broncos haven’t lost since Week 5.
The question: Can Baltimore’s aging defense slow down Peyton Manning and Co.?
The prediction: Denver 31, Baltimore 23
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers – Saturday 7:00 p.m. CT on FOX
In another playoff rematch of a regular season game, Green Bay travels to San Francisco to try and avenge an Opening Day loss to the 49ers at Lambeau Field. The 49ers ran the ball almost at will against Green Bay back in Week 1, and QB Alex Smith was efficient in passing for 2 TDs and now turning it over. Now, however, Smith is no longer the starter because 2nd-year player Colin Kaepernick has been chosen to replace him.
While San Francisco played better on that day, there aren’t many teams playing better than Green Bay right now. They’ve lost just twice since Week 5, and their last win was over the Vikings on Wild Card weekend at Lambeau Field.
The question: How will Kaepernick fare in his first career playoff start?
The prediction: Green Bay 24, San Francisco 20
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons – Sunday 12:00 p.m. CT on FOX
There’s a lot of pressure on Atlanta to finally win a playoff game. Although they’re playing at home after having a week off to rest, it’s still going to be a tall task this year because they’re set to play one of the hottest teams in NFL right now in the Seattle Seahawks. This Seahawks team is fearless – trailing 14-0 last week at FedEx Field, the Seahawks battered and bruised Washington and eventually overcame the deficit to win 24-14. RB Marshawn Lynch was a beast, rushing for 132 yards with 1 TD on 20 carries.
The question: Can Seattle’s talented and tough secondary slow down Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White?
The prediction: Atlanta 27, Seattle 17
Houston Texans at New England Patriots – Sunday 3:30 p.m. CT on CBS
All season it looked as if Houston would earn the AFC’s top seed and have the upper hand in the AFC side of the tournament. But a thrashing at the hands of the Patriots began to change all of that. When all was said and done, it was New England who came away with a 1st-round bye, not Houston, and that has set the stage for a rematch between the two clubs in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Behind 4 TD passes from Tom Brady, the Patriots dismantled Houston by a score of 42-14 just over a month ago. Houston has a good defense and they are coached well by coordinator Wade Phillips, so don’t expect such a lopsided outcome this time around.
The question: Can Houston put pressure on Tom Brady?
The prediction: New England 20, Houston 19
Tags: NFL Playoffs
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 633 Comments »