Friday, January 11, 2013

NFL 2013 Divisional Round Predictions


Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens

Ravens won an emotional game in dominate fashion and their reward is a short week and a game in one of the hardest stadiums to play in. This isn’t Ray Lewis’ last home game, but it is Peyton Manning’s return to the playoffs. Peyton seems to have the Raven’s number, Peyton has had faced the Ravens 10 times and walked away victorious 8 of those times. The last match up came up this season in week 15 when Peyton picked apart a banged up Raven defense. This match up should be a little different; the Ravens are healthier and there is much high stakes. Ravens are one of the most battle tested teams in the playoffs, and no stage will be too big. They will need to run the ball and control possession if they want a chance at winning this game.

I think this game will be more competitive than the first game around, but Peyton will put the game away with a late touchdown to dash the Raven’s hope of an upset. We saw last year how difficult it was to win in the Mile High City of Denver, the heavy favored Steelers lacked the energy and punch on a winter night in Denver.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 31-20

New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans

Last time Houston was in Massachusetts in week 14 they took a beating that changed many people’s perceptions of the untested Houston Texans. Texans have been on a tail spin while the Patriots are in the same position they seem to be every year. The Patriots are beatable at home in the playoffs, the New York Jets proved that two years ago, and also showed us that a regular season blow out can mean absolutely nothing. The Texans need to remind themselves that they do have the talent to beat the Patriots. This Patriot defense continues to improve, but is far from elite. Foster needs to get a large amount of touches, while the rest of the offense must sustain long drives. Houston Texan defense also needs to stop more than just the first option, against top quarterbacks this year they are 2-1. They won a shot out with Peyton Manning early in the season, in which Peyton still completed over 330 years passing. This defense seems to struggle against quarterbacks that can spread it around to multiple options. This offense also doesn’t seem to be built to win from behind.

I am going to go with the Patriots, but believe it will be a close one for most of the game. I think Brady is still too good for this inexperienced Texan team, and with the return of Gronkowski only means more mismatches against the Houston defense. I also think Belichick has finally whipped this young defense into shape, and we should see less mistakes and big plays given up with each game they play.

 Prediction: New England Patriots 31-24


Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks

The last time the Atlanta Falcons were in this situation we saw Aaron Rodgers put on a quarterbacking clinic in the Georgia Dome. It prompted announcers to declare the game the biggest butt kicking the city of Atlanta took since the Civil War. Maybe this is why none of the Gym Class All Star writers but Albert picked Atlanta to advance past this Divisional round. Seattle Seahawks are physical in nature and attitude, while the Falcons have a reputation of not living up to the big stage. If this doesn't motivate the Falcons to play the best football of their life, I don’t think anything else could. By far the Falcons are the most disrespected one seed in NFL playoff history. The key match up on this game has to be the large defensive backs of the Seahawks against the two stud wide receivers of the Falcons. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner against Julio Jones and Roddy White should be exciting; rarely would you see two defensive backs have a height advantage against two top wide receivers.

I too am a doubter of the Atlanta Falcons, after seeing them find regular season success and flop in the playoffs. Even Russell Wilson a rookie has more playoff wins than Matt Ryan with his victory last week. I believe that the hype around Seattle is deserved, and this might be the time where the dark horse label is warranted. Seattle seems to have beaten down the Redskins physically last week, and never showed panic after going down 14 in the first quarter. Nor did they let momentum shift when Marshawn Lynch fumbled on the goal line. As much as it pains me to say Seattle is for real, and the league better take notice.   

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 27-17

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

The last of the 3 rematches in this round’s playoffs, yet this one might have the least relevance. The Packers and 49ers faced off in week one with the Packers losing a close one to a then Alex Smith led 49ers. Becoming a Packer fan in 1995 the first four playoffs I watched included a Packer and 49ers match up. I thought the Packers could never lose to the 49ers, which didn’t happen till the last of the four match ups in 1999. It has been awhile since both franchises were Super Bowl contenders, but I have a feeling we will be seeing another string of Packers and 49er playoff games in the years to come. 49ers will need their quarterback to grow up quickly as the Packer defense starts to look more comfortable and return to their 2011 playoff form. They will need steady production from Frank Gore to free Colin Kapernick to be able to operate without too much pressure. Another big storyline will have to be the fact Rodgers is returning to the area his grew up in and played college ball. In addition it’s against the team that over looked him and took now second string quarterback Alex Smith. Aaron Rodgers might never admit it, but I am sure he hasn’t forgotten.

The most important match up in this game is the 49er defense verse Aaron Rodgers. The Packers run game has improved, but is still a direct product of how much defenses respect Rodgers to use all of his weapons. The packers have well over 7 guys that can make a difference catching the ball, and it seems like every week Aaron Rodgers has been able to spread it around. As a fan I have too much faith in this Packer offense to not pick them. Like always this pick is very bias, so please keep that in consideration.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24-19

Point totals from NFL 2013 Bracket Predictions:
Wild Card Point Potential: 4 Points
Divisional Round Point Potential: 8 Points
AFC/NFC Championship Point Potential: 6 Points
Super Bowl Point Potential: 4 Points

Albert Nyguyen: 2 points - Potential total: 20
Jonathan Lau: 1 points - Potential total: 17
Steven Wang: 3 points - Potential total: 21
Phil Vuong: 1 points - Potential total: 10
Norman Leung: 2 points - Potential total: 18
Jonathan Mok: 4 points - Potential total: 22
Peter Wang: 3 points - Potential total: 19
Andrew Chow: 2 points - Potential total: 13
Andrew Leu: 4 points - Potential total: 22
Caleb Li: 4 points - Potential total: 22


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