If the excitement of the Wild Card round is any indication, this weekend’s Divisional Round should be an NFL fan’s dream.
Baltimore @ New England
The Ravens have faced the Patriots before in the AFC playoffs. The two teams met for the AFC championship in both 2011 and 2012. Baltimore defeated New England in Foxboro in the 2012 title game and also in the wild card round in the 2009 season. It is difficult for any team to win in Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are 10-3 there in the playoffs since 2002, but Baltimore has proven to one team that can. The Ravens are once again tough defensively shutting down Pittsburgh, the NFL’s No. 7 scoring offense, in the wild card round. They also own the league’s best road playoff record at 10-5 in franchise history. Even with everything in their favor, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will find a way… New England 34, Baltimore 27.
Indianapolis @ Denver
The two teams met in Week 1 with Peyton Manning completing 22-of-36 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. The Colts will have to pressure Manning and shut down running back C.J. Anderson if they are to have any chance at moving on to the AFC Championship game. Indy did a great job last week of limiting Cincinnati RB Jeremy Hill to just 47 yards. On offense, the Colts have the league’s most productive passing game led by QB Andrew Luck. He will face pressure from Broncos pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. The question for the Colts is which defense will show up. Will it be the one that shutout Cincinnati during the regular season or the one that gave up 639 yards to Pittsburgh? Either way, Denver wins at home… Denver 35, Indianapolis 20.
Carolina @ Seattle
Is it even possible for a team with a losing record to make the NFC title game? Anything can happen and the Carolina Panthers will have that opportunity as they travel to Seattle on Saturday night. The Panthers lost to Seattle back on Oct. 26, a game that marked a change in the Carolina defense. That defense set a playoff record by holding Arizona to just 78 total yards in last week’s wild card round victory. The problem for the Panthers is they will be facing a Seattle defense that is even better. The two teams have effective run games and the result may come down to who is more efficient – Cam Newton or Russell Wilson? Take the defending champs at home… Seattle 13, Carolina 7.
Dallas @ Green Bay
This may be the most anticipated matchup of the playoff season. Dallas QB Tony Romo, a Wisconsin native, heads home to take on the Packers who have not lost at Lambeau field all year. Ironically, the Cowboys went 8-0 on the road during the regular season. Dallas has lost its last two road playoff games and defeating Green Bay at home this year will be a challenge. Packers’ fans should remember, though, that Dallas knocked Green Bay out of the playoffs in three consecutive seasons in the mid-1990s. The game features the league’s top two QBs as far as passer rating – Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo. While the Cowboys have enjoyed their best season in the last half of a decade, it all comes to an end on Sunday… Green Bay 31, Dallas 27.
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