NFL Divisional Round Playoff Picks

Wow… my wild card picks fell flat on their face. If you’re wondering how that feels just ask Seahawks punter John Ryan. If you haven’t caught it yet, he tweeted this hilarious picture after the game:


I begged and pleaded harder than Chip Kelly for a second chance, and I was rewarded with an additional opportunity to bring you another set wayward picks for this weekend’s Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. Let’s win one for the Gipper, boys!

#5 Chiefs at #2 Patriots (-5)

First game of the weekend. Pats getting healthier? Chiefs riding high after big win.

There were probably a lot of people picking last week’s Chiefs/Texans game thinking Kansas City was a good bet to win. Boy, were they ever. After rolling the Texans 30-0 the Chiefs have the unenviable task of heading to Foxboro this weekend for a date with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Chiefs are riding high right now thanks to their defense. Winners of 11 in a row, the Chiefs gave up 14 points or less in seven of those games. Simply put, it’s hard to score on these guys.

The offense has been solid too, even after sustaining the loss of Jamaal Charles after his season-ending knee injury. They also might be without Jeremy Maclin, who was injured in last week’s win with a high-ankle sprain. He’s listed as questionable for Saturday’s game. The Chiefs have really struggled at wide receiver in recent years, so the loss of Maclin would be a really tough break. They’ve also got another big problem:

The Patriots do not lose at Foxboro in January.

So, it’s in the bag right? Well, not so fast. This Patriots team has been banged up all year. So it’s not too far of a reach to say that Andy Reid and the Chiefs are the better team this weekend. It remains to be seen if there will be any discipline on Chandler Jones for his use of synthetic marijuana during the bye week. He is not likely to be suspended by the league until after the season (if at all), but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of being disciplined by Bill Belichick. Just don’t ask him about it:

I may have my reservations about the Patriots, but like I said, they don’t lose these games. The Chiefs will keep it close, but the Patriots will win. 24-17.

#5 Packers at #2 Cardinals (-7)

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers running game, but injuries are a concern. Carson Palmer’s MVP-caliber season and Cards D are a big challenge.

After a big win over the NFC East champion Redskins, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will try and hit the ground running—literally. When the Packers rushed for 100+ yards in a game this season they were 8-2. The Packers rushed for 141 yards on 32 carries and ran away with the game in the second half against the Skins last weekend.

After being sacked 13 times in the final two games of the season, Rodgers O-line was able to keep him mostly upright. The ‘Skins managed just one sack and only two QB hits in the game. But Packer’s fans probably shouldn’t get too excited, as they’re facing a team that destroyed them only three weeks ago.  A game in which Rodgers was sacked eight times.

Rodgers was the 2nd most sacked quarterback in the NFL this year, so he’s definitely not looking forward to facing this team again. The Cardinals defense is as strong as any, and even with the loss of Tyrann Mathieu, they should be able to sustain the elite level at which they’ve played this season. On the other side of the ball, 36-year-old QB is Carson Palmer having an MVP-caliber season, Larry Fitzgerald is kindly reminding us why he’s still one of the greats, and 3rd round pick David Johnson has been huge for the Cards.

The Cardinals are loaded with talent across the board. They have the defense to shut you down and the offense to blow you out. I just don’t see a scenario in which the Packers pull it out. Cardinals win, 30-20.

#6 Seahawks at #1 Panthers (-1.5)

Marshawn Lynch and the Legion of Boom. Cam Newton, MVP? J-Stew healthy. Panthers D.

It’s all about that action, boss. When asked about his status for the upcoming Seahawks/Panthers rematch, Beast Mode, aka Marshawn Lynch, replied: “I’m Ready.”

Russell Wilson continues to amaze in his fourth year in the league, passing for careers highs in yardage (4024) and TDs (34). Wilson also rushed for 553 yards. He was helped on offense by the emergence of Doug Baldwin, and rookie Tyler Lockett. Seattle’s offense is one of the tops in the league ranking fourth in PPG (26.4) and YPG (378.6), and third in rushing YPG (141.8).

The real story with this team, as we all know, is with their defense, who once again ranked #1 overall in PPG and rushing YPG, and finished second in passing and overall YPG. This defense shuts teams down. Including last week’s miracle win over the Vikings, the Seahawks have allowed 10 points or fewer in seven games this season, and they won all of them.

Luckily for the Panthers, they have the probable MVP in Cam Newton leading their team, and already beat the Seahawks once this year on the road. Cam Newton worked with a group of guys most people laughed at in the preseason. Fast forward a few months, 35 passing touchdowns, and another 10 rushing, and the only ones left laughing are the Panthers.

Then there’s the defense. This group finished in the top six in PPG, YPG, interceptions, sacks, touchdowns scored, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries. In other words, they get after the ball.

This game is tough to call.  My head says the Panthers are too good to be one and done. My heart says the Seahawks and their championship-winning pedigree will outlast the stingy Carolina D. It’s a 27-24 overtime win for Seattle.

#6 Steelers at #1 Broncos (-7.5)

Major injuries deal major blows to Steelers starting QB, WR, and RB. Peyton Manning back in the saddle.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in trouble. DeAngelo Williams will miss the divisional round matchup with a badly sprained ankle he suffered in the regular season finale. Antonio Brown is out as well after a concussion on this vicious hit in the Wild Card game in Cincinnati. QB Ben Roethlisberger is listed as questionable after taking a big hit of his own from Bengals defender Vontaze Burfict. Big Ben suffered torn ligaments and a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder on the play. Thankfully for the Steelers, he was able to get through a full practice on Friday afternoon, so it looks like he’ll play. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a defense capable of shutting down the other team, so Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton will have to step up.

Peyton Manning played in 10 games this season and was dreadful. Dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis in his back leg (meaning the leg he plants with and drives off of when he’s about to throw). Manning just didn’t have the normal zip or pop on his fastball. It seemed as if age and injury had finally caught up with him. Brock Osweiler stepped in and was initially better than Manning, but not by much. In the regular season finale “The Brock” threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the first half. With the game still close and a chance to snag home field throughout the playoffs, the Broncos went back to the Old Gunslinger for one last rodeo.

Buoyed by a strong running game (30 car., 212 yards, 2 TDs) Manning did just enough to win the game. More importantly, Manning didn’t turn the ball over. He had thrown at least one interception in every game he played in until he relieved Osweiler in the 27-20 win over San Diego.

Let’s face the facts: the two guys under center will most likely not be 100% this Sunday. Regardless of the positive reviews Manning has received in practice this week, he will still be a question mark. The Steelers defense knows that and will try and test him early. The defense on the other side of the field should have a much easier time based on the injuries of the Steelers. They allowed the fewest yards of any defense all season, had the most sacks in the NFL, and were top five in PPG allowed. If the defense does its job, Manning and co. could have an easy day. Broncos over the Steelers. 24-13.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the games everybody. Remember to check back in next week when I break down the AFC and NFC championship games!

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