The NFL Playoffs got off to a wild start in the Wild Card round and we are to expect nothing different in the Divisional Round.
Each divisional round matchup is a rematch of a regular season game and for the Steelers-Ravens and Jets-Patriots it is the third time they are playing. The Falcons-Packers and Bears-Seahawks will play for a second time.
The matchups featured in the divisional round have been played a total of six times. Four of those six games were decided by 3 points.
Only the Jets and Patriots games were decided by more points, 14 points in their first meeting, and 42 points in their second meeting.
The following weekend has all that you can ask for and then some. If defense is your thing, then tune into the Ravens-Steelers game where neither team will break 20 points.
If offense and trash talking is your thing, then get ready to watch the Patriots-Jets game. If underdog stories are your thing, then watch the Seahawks face the Bears.
If dominating football is your thing, then watch the Falcons-Packers game. Watch Matt Ryan and Michael Turner attempt to dominate while Clay Matthews and the Packers defense will also try to be dominating.
Bottom line, this weekend has everything you want, and then some. So here are some quick looks at each of the games.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Saturday, January 15th, 4:30, CBS; Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
Previous Meetings: Week 4, Ravens 17, Steelers 14; Week 13, Steelers 13, Ravens 10
Quick Take: Roger Goodell better have his letter-head ready because he will be able to send out plenty of fines after this game is played. This will be a hard-hitting, defensive game that will have fans cringe when they are watching on television. And I cannot wait. Would you expect anything different from a Ravens-Steelers matchup?
The first two games both were decided by three points with each team winning on the opposing teams field. I expect nothing different in Act III. If this act is anything like the first two, then we are in for a real treat.
This game will kick off the Divisional Round weekend and these teams will do it in style. But don’t forget about the two quarterbacks in this matchup either.
Joe Flacco is one of the best young guns in the league and Ben Roethlisberger has already won two Super Bowls.
So while this will be a hard-hitting affair between these teams, the quarterbacks will also shine. It will likely come down to the fourth quarter and either a key drive or key mistake by one of these quarterbacks that will decide the game.
Prediction: Steelers 16, Ravens 13
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, January 15th, 8:00, FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Previous Meetings: Week 12, Falcons 20, Packers 17
Quick Take: Everyone seems to have jumped on the Packers bandwagon—and for good reason. They are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, but Matty Ice and the Atlanta Falcons will attempt to rise up and cool off these Packers.
The first act between these teams was great. Aaron Rodgers drove down the field and tied it up at 17 with 56 seconds left. Matt Ryan followed with a drive that resulted in a game-winning 47 yard field goal.
The Packers running game finally showed up against the Eagles, behind the 123 yards from freshman running back James Starks.
This game will come down to one thing and it will hold true for both teams. Running the ball, and stopping the run. Whichever team can do that the best, will have a great chance to clinch a berth in the NFC Championship game.
Bottom line, running game or not, this game is going to come down to the quarterback play in the fourth quarter. My gut tells me that Matt Ryan and the Falcons will prevail in the Georgia Dome.
Prediction: Falcons 24, Packers 20
Earlier I wrote a more in-depth preview of this game, which you can find here.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
Sunday, January 16th, 1:00, FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
Previous Meetings: Week 6, Seahawks 23, Bears 20
Quick Take: The Seahawks are America’s favorites. When everyone was saying that they shouldn’t be in the playoffs, the decided to not listen to any of it. They decided to go out and just play the game of football last Saturday and knock off the defending Super Bowl Champions.
So from Atlanta Falcons fans, we thank you Seattle. Now if you can only do it one more time against the Chicago Bears we will welcome you to the Georgia Dome with open arms on January 23rd.
But the Chicago Bears are a better team than the New Orleans Saints and the Bears should win this game—plain and simple. One thing that could make this game alot closer will be the play of Jay Cutler. He has never played in the postseason before and if he makes mistakes, it could be a great equalizer.
I don’t see that happening though. Even if it does, the Seahawks will still make their fair share of mistakes. This game will be close, but in the end the Bears will do a favor to NFL fans and defeat the Seattle Seahawks.
Prediction: Bears 27, Seahawks 17
New York Jets and New England Patriots
Sunday, January 16th, 4:30, CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Previous Meetings: Week 2, Jets 28, Patriots 14; Week 13, Patriots 45, Jets 3
Quick Take: The Jets have done all their talking before the game, and the Patriots will do all the talking during and after the game. The Jets won earlier in the year, but the Patriots dominated the Jets later in the year. Now this game will be alot more competitive than their last meeting, but the Patriots will still win.
Tom Brady is better than Mark Sanchez and Bill Belichick is better than Rex Ryan, and that will never change. Now, remember that this is the NFL Playoffs. If the Patriots make uncharacteristic mistakes they could certainly lose this game, but they have Tom Brady at the helm and he doesn’t make mistakes.
It will be a game at the half, but look for second-half turnovers by Mark Sanchez and second-half touchdowns by Tom Brady to seal up a AFC Championship berth for the New England Patriots.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Jets 17
Predictions For The Following Rounds
I am going to keep this one short and simple with just predictions.
NFC Championship Game: Atlanta over Chicago
AFC Championship Game: Pittsburgh over New England
Super Bowl: Atlanta over Pittsburgh
*Come on now, I know I’m a homer, but I’m not going to pick against my team. I can only hope the Steelers beat the Patriots, so that the Falcons or any NFC team has a shot.