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Breaking Down the NFL Playoffs: Divisonal Edition

Last week when breaking down the Wild Card Round, my big brother went 1-3 while I was a perfect 4-0. Don't be to hard on him though, he was never very talented so he always likes to root for the underdog!

Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos
Saturday, January 12th, 2013 @ 4:30 PM ET on CBS

Mike - Just back in week 15, the Broncos went into Baltimore and embarrassed the Ravens 34-17. It was 17-0 at half and 31-3 at the end of the 3rd quarter.  This time the Ravens will go into Denver where the Broncos have only lost once this year all the way back in week 3.  Currently the Broncos are on a 11-game win streak where they are not only averaging 31 points per game, but they are only giving up 16 points per game on defense.  The Ravens offense is still struggling as they did beat the Colts last weekend 24-9 but only mustered 10 points during the 1st half against a below average defense.  Joe Flacco will be harassed all game by the Broncos defense led by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil (combined 29.5 sacks). It's not likely that the Ravens will rely heavily on their run game with Ray Rice and Benard Pierce because the Broncos are 3rd in the NFL against the run.  Peyton Manning will pick apart the Ravens short handed secondary as they'll have a hard time containing Thomas and Decker, which will help open the run game for Knowshon Moreno who rushed for 115 yards and a TD against them back in week 15.  When the Ravens show blitz, Peyton will be ready and he'll audbile out into a play that will beat the blitz. Can't see the Ravens going into Denver and getting a W.Broncos win 35-23

Keith - Peyton Manning is 7-2 in his career against Ray Lewis' Ravens.  In those 9 games Manning has thrown for 18 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions.  Most of those games were played against the Ravens when they were the leagues most feared defense.  While many of those same players are still on the roster, this is the worst defense the Ravens have put together in a LONG time.  Not to say they are a terrible D, but the Broncos should not worry.  Another thing to watch is if Dannell Ellerbe is able to go on Saturday night and if he will be 100% come kick-off.  Most of Peyton's wins came as a member of the Colts, but Manning's game has not changed in Denver and this is the best defensive team Manning has ever had the pleasure of wearing the same jersey.  All signs point to a Broncos win, but I do not see it being more than a 10 points victory.  Broncos win 30-20


Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
Saturday, January 12th, 2013, @ 8:00 PM ET on FOX

Mike - To beat the Packers you need a game manager at QB. Back in week 1 Alex Smith did just that for the 49ers as they beat the Packers 30-22 and Smith was 20/26 for 211 yards, 2 TDs and 0 turnovers.  Kaepernick scrambles which is something that isn't really part of Alex Smith's game.  Personally I think Smith gives the 49ers the best chance to beat the Packers as we saw in week 1.  Kaepernick over his last 3 games has a completion percentage under 58%. That will equal a lot of 3 and outs which the 49ers can't afford, as it will give Aaron Rodgers and the explosive Packers passing game to see more possessions.  We have no idea how Kaepernick will handle the pressure of the playoffs, and we saw last year that Smith looked pretty comfortable. Losing Kendall Hunter hurts the 49ers run game which they lean on heavily, and really aren't confident in James, or Dixon to handle the 3rd down duties for Frank Gore, and with Vernon Davis only catching 6 balls in his last 6 games and Mario Manningham out for the year, Kaepernick is limited on who he can throw to.  Yes Crabtree and Kaepernick have a great chemistry but the Packers can focus on shutting Crabtree out of the 49ers gameplan. I'll take a Super Bowl MVP over a guy who has only started 7 NFL games. Packers win 28-17

Keith - If Alex Smith was still the QB for the Niners, I would have way more confidence in the Packers earning the W.  But with Colin Kaepernick under center, San Francisco has a much better chance of beating the Packers and their wild blitzes.  Alex Smith did beat the Pack in Week 1 throwing for 2 TDs but the Packers got off to a terrible start and are not the same team from the beginning of the season.  Frank Gore gashed the Packers for 112 yards  on 16 carries and there is no reason to doubt another 100 yard game from the 49ers running back.  The way Kapernick and Crabtree have gelled, I like the 49ers in this one.49ers win 27 - 24

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 @ 1:00 PM ET on FOX

Mike - Lets face it the Seahawks defense was dominant after allowing a quick 14 points against the Redskins.  Even if RGIII was healthy the Seahawks were locked in and weren't going to allow any more points that game.  They got hurt in the run game early by Alfred Morris then quickly figured it out and shut him down the rest of the way. The Falcons have NO run game as Michael Turner has no explosiveness or speed and Jacquizz Rodgers is not much of a threat on the ground.  That means the Falcons will turn to Matt Ryan to find Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez down the field, and as we saw the Redskins failed to throw for 100 yards last week.  Seattle ranks 5th in the NFL against the pass, only allowing 15 TDs through the air, while picking off 18 passes.  The Falcons are just as good at shutting down the pass but they rank 21st against the run, which benefits the Seahawks as they can just feed the beast and give Lynch 30 carries. As we saw last week the Seahawks have a great offensive line and they ran for over 200 yards on a Redskins defense who ranked 5th in the NFL against the run.  Falcons might be at home but they have a lot to prove and I think the pressure will get to them once again. The mix of defense and run game for the Seahawks will lead Seattle to a victory. Seahawks wins 24-23

Keith - You have to imagine that a healthy RG3 beats the Seahawks last week, but the Falcons are the complete opposite team of the Redskins.  The Falcons air it out with the best of them and the Seahawks greatest strength is their secondary so this will be one heck of a game.  But given the Falcons success at home in Matt Ryan's career and the Seahawks "struggles" on the road this year added to Chris Clemons devastating injury last week, you have to tip the scales in favor of the Falcons.  The Falcons defense is better than the Redskins and the Seahawks had trouble pulling away from a team that had a one-legged QB that threw for 89 yards.  The Seahawks have not played a team as talented as the Falcons are on offense since their week 6-8 stretch of games against the Patriots, 49ers and Lions and they went 1-2 over that span.  Falcons win 30 - 23

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots 

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 @ 4:30 PM ET on CBS

Mike - Just a month ago the Patriots beat the Texans 42-14 and the Texans will be back in Foxborough this Sunday.  If the Texans want any chance to win this game, they'll need to win the turnover category. And when I say win, they need to have 0 turnovers and force the Patriots to turn the ball over 3 or more times.  Just like against the Bengals, Arian Foster will need around 30 carries to help keep Brady on the sidelines, but a lot of people don't give the Patriots defense the credit they deserve. They ranked 9th against the run this season as Wilfork clogs up the middle. The Patriots did rank 29th against the pass but that's because they get out to big leads and the opposing team has to throw for the majority of the game. But they did acquire Aqib Talib back in November and he will cover Andre Johnson this weekend.  However I don't think the Texans have enough defensive weapons to cover Welker, Lloyd, Gronkowski and Hernandez on those quick slants over the middle. Hard to bet against Tom Brady at home. Patriots win 34-17

Keith - The Texans don't even stand a chance as their 42-14 lose to the Patriots in week 14 shows.  The Patriots defense is so underrated its disgusting and only the Broncos defense even has a chance to stop Tom Brady.  The quick throws from Brady will keep JJ "sWatt" on his heels looking to bat the ball down and keep the pressure off Brady and whoever linesup in the backfield be it Ridley or Woodhead.  Let's not forget that Rob Gronkowski will be suiting up for this one!  Patriots win 37 - 27