Predictions for NFL Divisional Matchups

It’s a good thing I don’t bet on sports. I was a perfect 0-4 last week with my wild-card weekend predictions. There were some close games, but I was a little shocked that Cincinnati played so poorly against San Diego. I did say that Cincinnati’s chance to win rested squarely on the shoulders of Andy Dalton.  He couldn’t afford to make mistakes…and he made a lot of mistakes (three costly turnovers). I knew the other games would be close…I just picked the wrong side of the coin. I may not have picked the games correctly, but they were fun to watch. Three out of the four games this weekend are rematches from games played earlier in the season. You would think it would make my predictions easier, but it didn’t. As proven last week, anything can happen. Here are my predictions for this week…

New Orleans Saints vs.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle crushed New Orleans 34-7, earlier this season. The Saints looked decent last week, but not good enough to beat the Seahawks on their home turf.  Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is sneaky good…both on the ground and through the air and running back Marshawn Lynch can burn defenses.

Since the very physical Seahawks are well-rested, look for them to come out strong and put New Orleans in a hole early. Watch for a late Saints rally, but it won’t be enough.

Prediction: Seahawks 28, Saints 20

Indianapolis Colts vs.

New England Patriots

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, overcame three interceptions and a 28-point deficit to lead his team to victory in the Wild Card Round last week.  That won’t happen in Foxboro this week.  I am not a fan of the Patriots this season, but they always find a way to win these games.

Winning in Foxboro is not going to be an easy task for the underdog Colts. Tom Brady has a limited number of receivers he can truly count on, yet he’s made it work and even though New England’s defense is shaky, they should be able to shut down T.Y. Hilton. I won’t bet against a Bill Belichick led team… in the playoffs… at Foxboro.

Prediction: Patriots 31, Colts 23

San Francisco 49ers vs. Carolina Panthers

This game comes down to the success of Cam Newton. Like I predicted with Andy Dalton last week, if Newton limits his turnovers, the Panthers can win this game. However, I think he may suffer the same fate as Dalton. I predict he throws a pair of interceptions and adds a fumble. If that happens, the Panthers won’t recover.

Colin Kaepernick, looked really good last week. Like Cam, he can hurt you with his legs and run for a crucial first down or a goal-line score.  He has three playoff victories under his belt and he’s played well in all of them.

The Panthers won a close, low-scoring game in week 10, but the 49ers were without Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis was hurt. They’re back to full strength now, and Carolina’s defense will not be able to contain Kaepernick as a running threat like they did then.

The Panthers surprised everyone this season by winning the NFC South, but the run comes to an end this week.

Prediction: 49ers 23, Panthers 7

San Diego Chargers vs.

Denver Broncos

The Chargers upset the Broncos at Mile High in week 15, winning 27-20 and lost by only eight points in their other regular season meeting in week 10. You would assume that this will be another close game.

Philip Rivers has avoided the mistakes that plagued him the past few seasons and the Chargers have a more balanced attack this year that has meant less pressure on Rivers.  The Chargers have the ability to pull off the upset this week…but it won’t happen.

Manning has too many weapons and with the end of his career coming to a close, he has too much desire to win this year.  He won’t let the Chargers beat him twice on his home field and he still wants redemption after losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs last year.

The only way San Diego wins this game is if that streak of Philly luck continues (Since 2009, the Eagles opponent in their first home game of the year has gone on to win the Super Bowl…San Diego was their opponent this year). So if San Diego pulls off the upset this week, I may change my Super Bowl pick to the Chargers.

Look for Manning and Knowshon Moreno to have big days. The Broncos will make sure this game does not stay close.

Prediction: Broncos 38,Chargers 17

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