Divisional Round Preview
#4 Baltimore Ravens @ #1 Denver Broncos, Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, CBS
Baltimore Offense vs. Denver Defense
The Ravens offense is fueled by RB Ray Rice. Rice can power run between the tackles and can also utilize his speed on the outside. The Broncos need to have very good contain on the outside to prevent Rice from bouncing from the inside. The Broncos defense has been outstanding this year, and DE Elvis Dumervil and OLB Von Miller have been top-tier pass rushers. The Broncos will win this battle.
Denver Offense vs. Baltimore Defense
Peyton Manning has not lost to Baltimore since December of 2001. He knows this defense inside and out, and will have a productive game. Back in Week 15, when the Broncos beat the Ravens 34-17, RB Knowshon Moreno had a solid game. Moreno dashed for 118 yards on 22 carries and added a touchdown. He also hurdled FS Ed Reed.
Prediction: The Broncos will get the job done in Denver. Pick: Broncos, 31, Ravens, 16
#3 Green Bay Packers @ #2 San Francisco 49ers, 8:00 PM ET, FOX
Green Bay Offense vs. San Francisco Defense
The Packers have an explosive receiver core led by Greg Jennings. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are also crucial to their passing attack. QB Aaron Rodgers has been fantastic yet again this year. However, the 49ers defense is also elite. OLB Aldon Smith is a scary pass rusher, and MLB’s Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are forces in the center of the field. The Niners defense will top off the Packers offense on Saturday night.
San Francisco Offense vs. Green Bay Defense
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick is mobile, which will force the Packers to keep him in the pocket. OLB Clay Matthews needs to wreak havoc in the trenches to keep the opposing quarterback under pressure. San Fran RB Frank Gore is a power back, so the Packers need to have superior interior pressure from their defensive tackles. The 49ers offense will be too dynamic for the Pack, and they will win this battle.
Prediction: The Niners have too much firepower. Pick: 49ers, 24, Packers, 20
#5 Seattle Seahawks @ #1 Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 PM ET, FOX
Seattle Offense vs. Atlanta Defense
RB Marshawn Lynch has been pivotal all year for the Seahawks. He is extremely powerful, and dominates through defense. It is a challenging task to tackle him. QB Russell Wilson, a 2012 third round pick, has played with the poise of a veteran. The ‘Hawks offense has hit the 50 mark multiple times so far this season. The Falcons need to blitz a lot to make Wilson make decisions faster. The ‘Hawks offense will get the job done.
Atlanta Offense vs. Seattle Defense
WR Roddy White has been spectacular this season, and TE Tony Gonzalez is consistent as always. Julio Jones has shined at times, also. QB Matt Ryan still has not won a playoff game, though. A lot of pressure is being placed on the 5th year veteran out of Boston College, who is expected to push the Falcons over the hump. Conversely, the Seahawks defense has been A1 throughout the 2012-13 season. They have a fierce pass rush, and that is why they will overtake the Falcons offense.
Prediction: The upstart Seahawks will light up the scoreboard. Pick: Seahawks, 41, Falcons, 20
#3 Houston Texans @ #2 New England Patriots, 4:30 PM ET, CBS
Houston Offense vs. New England Defense
The Texans will win this matchup with their talent. WR Andre Johnson makes it easy for QB Matt Schaub (when he isn’t in obvious pass situations). RB Arian Foster racks up immense yards, especially on cutbacks. TE Owen Daniels is underrated and another one of Schaub’s favorite targets. The Patriots defense will be outplayed.
New England Offense vs. Houston Defense
Tom Brady can destruct any defense. Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of all time and has an unparalleled arsenal of targets. No matter how well Houston plays, New England will come out on top of this matchup. It will be a shootout.
Prediction: Brady will snag another playoff victory. Pick: Patriots, 34, Texans, 27