The Dr of the NFL’s divisional playoff predictions
Saints at Seahawks.
In order for the Saints to pull off the upset, they must be able to run the football like last week vs. the Eagles. If Drew Brees doesn’t have some balance and throws it 50 times, expect a couple of interceptions and a thumping similar to the first time these two teams met. Meantime, Seattle’s offense has struggled toward the end of the season. I think the return of Percy Harvin will open up the field for Golden Tate, Zach Miller, and Doug Baldwin, plus New Orleans defense has been decimated by injuries to all 3 linebackers and 3 starting defensive backs. I picked Seattle in the pre-season to go to the Super Bowl and I see no reason to change now. Seattle 23 New Orleans 20.
49ers at Panthers.
The 49ers might be peaking at the right time, they’ve won 7 in a row and they play well on the road [7-2]. This match-up features 2 championship caliber defenses, and the game should be a slug-fest. Both defenses should be able to contain each other’s running game and both must be mindful of QB scrambles. They must keep Kaepernick and Newton home in the pocket and not lose contain because both QB’s can kill a defense with their legs. The difference to me is that San Francisco has more weapons outside at their disposal, especially with the return of Michael Crabtree. The Panthers will be limited due to Steve Smith’s injury, therefore, Brandon Lafell and Ted Ginn must make plays to help Cam out. Despite the fact that Cam has 4 fourth quarter comebacks this year, I think San Francisco will learn from the loss earlier in the year against Carolina and Harbaugh will make some adjustments. The 49ers will enact revenge setting up and NFC title game with Seattle. Would be fitting since both have been the best teams in the conference all year. San Francisco 24 Carolina 13.
Colts at Patriots.
The mere presence of both teams in this playoff game is really a testament to the excellence of both QB’s. They lead teams with modestly talented defenses and banged up receiving options. I believe the winner of the game will be decided by the team that is able to run the ball most effectively. I think LaGarrette Blount and Steven Ridley will be the difference in a tight game. The Colts’ defense has really struggled to stop the run [26th in NFL]. Look for the Colts to have success running it as well. The Pats’ interior defense has really been compromised by injuries, losing WIlfork, Tommy Kelly, and Brandon Spikes. This game will come down to the 4th quarter and many think this could be the passing of the torch at QB. I think it’s coming, but not just yet. Patriots 30 Colts 27.
Chargers at Broncos.
Those that believe that San Diego doesn’t have a chance in this game haven’t been paying attention. These are divisional opponents that are very familiar with each other. These teams have split 2 games, and in those 2 games, The Chargers were able to dominate time of possession and keep Peyton off the field. Look for more of the same. Denver’s defense is suspect to begin with and without Von Miller, they’ll get no pass rush vs. Philip Rivers who, in his last 7 games is on fire [14 TDS. 2 INTS]. While I expect this to be up for grabs in the 4th Quarter, I still think Denver prevails because Manning will score TDS while Rivers will kick field goals in a tightly contested game. Denver 37 Chargers 31
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