The divisional round of the NFL playoffs takes place this weekend pitting the top two seeds in each conference against the winners of wild card weekend, playing for the right to go to their respective conference championship games.
Saturday Jan. 12 – 4:30 P.M. ET
(4) Baltimore Ravens at (1) Denver Broncos: Simply put, this Ravens defense has not been the same as it was over the past few seasons. Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Ladarius Webb have all had injury issues this season. However, this is probably the healthiest that Ravens defense has been all year, as all but Webb, who has been out since week six with a torn ACL, are listed as probable. They will come into Denver emotionally charged to extend Ray Lewis' final season. The issue is that they will have to do that against potential MVP Peyton Manning and a Denver Broncos team that has not lost since week five, and is 7-1 at home this year. Despite a 13-3 record, the Broncos played a relatively easy schedule and were only 2-3 against teams, who finished with records above .500.
Previous Meeting Week 15: Broncos 34 at Ravens 17
Favorite: Broncos by 9
Pick: Broncos 27 – Ravens 17
Saturday Jan. 12 – 8:00 P.M. ET
Sunday Jan. 13 – 1:00 P.M. ET
(5) Seattle Seahawks at (1) Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, coming off a strong regular season, is looking for his first career playoff win, however, this is simply not a good matchup for the Falcons. The Seahawks are peaking at the right time. They are winners of six straight while the Falcons finished the year going 2-2. Atlanta struggles to stop the run and the Seahawks love to run the ball. The Atlanta run game has not been the same this year and the Seahawks should be able to bottle it up. The strength of the Atlanta Falcons is in the passing game, where arguably the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, Roddy White and Julio Jones, will face a Seattle secondary that has been the strongest point of that team all season.
Favorite: Falcons by 2.5
Pick: Seahawks 24 Falcons 21
Sunday Jan. 13 – 4:30 P.M. ET
(3) Houston Texans at (2) New England Patriots: The rematch from week 14, where the Patriots obliterated the Texans 42-14 will probably not be repeated. The Texans are not "frauds" as Boston Globe Dan Shaughnessy seems to think. However, they are quite simply not as good as the New England Patriots. Arian Foster is one of the best running backs in the league and the Houston defense, led by probable defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, is good, however, the Patriots have major advantages at the quarterback position and on their coaching staff. Additionally, they are healthier than they have been all season and were able to post 42 points on the Texans without Rob Gronkowski, who will play in this game. If the Patriots jump out to an early lead this will be another blowout. The Texans rely on establishing their rushing attack to complement the play action pass. If the Patriots get an early lead, like they did in their first meeting, the Texans will have to get away from what they do best and lack the firepower for a shootout.
Previous Meeting Week 14: @ New England 42 – Houston 14
Favorite: Patriots by 9.5
Pick: Patriots 35 – Texans 17