Divisional Round Previews- Saturday

Posted: 01/11/2014 by levcohen in Football

This round is known (by me) as the round of upsets. It is the round that each of the four best teams in football (or close to) are home after a first round BYE. It is the round that underdogs are playing on the road. So rest assured that there will be some heavy home favorites. But in recent memory there has ALWAYS been a road upset in this slate of games. And it’s usually an upset in a game with a spread of at least a touchdown. So watch out if you are trying to parlay the Seahawks, Broncos, and Patriots, because it’s almost certainly not going to work for you. I think it’s almost definite that one of those three teams will be upset, even though they have been the three best teams in football this year. The Patriots are the shortest favorite of the three at 7.5 points. Watch out.

New Orleans Saints (12-5, 9-8) at Seattle Seahawks (13-3, 11-5):
Line: Seahawks favored by 10
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Seahawks- 23, Saints- 17.. I was really tempted to make this the upset. But it just seems like destiny that the NFC Conference Championship is going to be Seahawks against 49ers. The Panthers and Saints will do everything in their power to keep those two teams from playing each other, but it just seems like fate. With that being said, the Saints are a really good team. They went in to Philadelphia and played a solid game while clearly looking like the better team. The whole “road team” thing is way overstated at this point. However, these same Saints went into Seattle and lost by 27, so they haven’t shown that they can be competitive with this crowd. Ultimately, it comes down to the quarterbacks. Russell Wilson was terrific against the Saints, but struggled in his final four games, going 2-2. Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but he isn’t great in bad weather. The Philly game actually had decent weather. It was cold, but there was no precipitation. Seattle’s forecast is for a 90% of rain, thunderstorms, and 47 degree whether with 30 degree winds. Can Brees play his usual game against one of the best defenses in the NFL? I think the answer to that is no, which is why I’m picking the Seahawks to get the win. Seattle is also getting Percy Harvin back, presumably close to full strength. The Saints will be able to stop Marshawn Lynch if they want to, and they’ll be able to put Keenan Lewis on Golden State. But they might not have an answer for Harvin out of the slot. The more dynamic weapons Seattle puts around Wilson, the more dangerous they will be.
Saints cover
Under

Indianapolis Colts (12-5, 11-6) at New England Patriots (12-4, 8-8):*
Line: Patriots favored by 8
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: Colts- 31, Patriots- 28.. I’m pretty puzzled by this spread. The spread is probably appropriate based on season achievement and performance for each team during the regular season, but I think this is going to be a close game. Andrew Luck is going to have the ball in his hand late in the game, and while he might not have a chance to win the game, he’ll almost certainly get the chance to cover the spread. And I’m going to pick the Colts to win, only because I have a huge amount of faith in Andrew. The Colts are, in many ways, and ideal matchup for Bill Belichick. They are coming off an emotional high (their dramatic comeback win against Kansas City), and have two dominant players, each of whom can be stopped. Robert Mathis, with his 20 sacks, is a player who can be stopped, and nobody else on the Colts defense is scary. T.Y. Hilton, who had over 200 yards against the Chiefs, is Luck’s top target, but he’s not unstoppable, and Belichick can stop him, too. So it seems like I’m over thinking this “upset every year” thing, and that I should be taking Tom Brady and Belichick. But again, it’s Andrew Luck, and the Brady-Belichick duo have not have much success in the playoffs in the last decade, despite winning 12 games year after year. Again, I hope I’m not over thinking this, but I’m taking the Colts. And the defense that gave up 44 points against a Jamaal Charles-less Chiefs team. Boy, this scares me. I guess there is a reason that the Pats are eight point favorites. Oh well.

Colts cover
Over

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