Last week, the NFL Playoffs began with Wild Card Weekend. It was a fantastic weekend of football, with many exciting games.
This weekend, the NFL Divisional round begins and we here at Sports Unbiased, as usual, will predict who we think will win each matchup and explain why. Below is the list of the picks followed by the in-depth breakdown of each game. After each breakdown is a poll for that game where you can select who you think will win each playoff game.
|New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots||Patriots||Patriots||Patriots||Patriots||Colts|
|San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers||49ers||Panthers||49ers||49ers||Panthers|
|San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos||Broncos||Chargers||Broncos||Broncos||Chargers|
|Last Week (Playoffs)||1-3||1-3||2-2||2-2||1-3|
|JR Williams||Mike Santangelo||Zach Krpan||Jamal Cadoura||Sports Unbiased Consensus|
|New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks||Saints||Saints||Seahawks|
|Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots||Colts||Patriots||Colts||Patriots||Patriots|
|San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers||49ers||Panthers||Panthers||49ers||49ers|
|San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos||Broncos||Broncos||Broncos||Chargers||Broncos|
|Last Week (Playoffs)||1-3||2-2||2-2||0-0||1-2-1|
Let’s take a closer look at each game.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Rich Stowe: Seahawks, 31-24. Seattle is just too tough at home and they destroyed New Orleans there earlier this season. While New Orleans did finally get a road win in the playoffs last week, I just think the Seahawks will be too much for them.
Kimani Gregoire: Seahawks 31-17. I’m not expecting another 34-7 beatdown from Seattle. But I’m expecting another Seattle victory. Other than the fact that they’re playing at home (where they’re nearly invincible) I think Seattle’s defense will limit the big plays that Drew Brees and Sean Payton look for, thanks to their physical and athletic front seven.
Brian Podoll: Seahawks, 35-20. The 34-7 December 2nd win over the Saints at Seattle was a harbinger of things to come here. The Seahawks are simply the NFL’s best balanced team at this point and the Saints had to pull their fat out of the cold at the last second in Philly. New Orleans may make some offensive adjustments to get more points on the board, but Seattle shakes off a week’s rust to win at home.
Alex Brooks: Seahawks, 24-10. Seattle at home is a much different animal. Yes, they did lose at home this season, but that was the first time Russell Wilson had lost at home in the NFL. I don’t see the Saints winning on the road, despite beating the Eagles. The Saints just seem to struggle on the road and the Seahawks will jump all over them, and Brees will struggle to get anything going. I just don’t see Seattle losing this one.
John Yeomans: Seahawks, 30-20. Back in December these two teams faced off for what looked to be an epic showdown that instead turned out to be 34-7 slaughter as the Seahawks dominated every aspect of the game. Expect Saints coach Sean Payton to make some adjustments in this rematch to make this game better than the last one. Still I do not think it will be enough to beat the Seahawks, with their slew of pass rushers, they will bring at Drew Brees, and running back Marshawn Lynch who should run right through a Saints defense that gave up 4.6 yards a carry this season.
Mike Santangelo: Seahawks, 21-17, Last week the Saints proved they had what it took to win on the road by going in to Philly and beating them on their home turf in the cold. This week they head out to Seattle, where the most overwhelming defense, and the best 12th man, in the league will be waiting for them. As good as the Saints are, they’re just not that good.
JR Williams: Seahawks, 27-24. Seahawks are undefeated at home and I highly doubt the New Orleans Saints can go into CenturyLink and pull the upset. Although we have seen several teams lose at home during these playoffs, I just can’t go against Russel Wilson and company.
Zach Krpan: Saints, 28-21. Seattle is rock solid at home. Brees will have his hands full facing the “league of boom” but Jimmy Graham is going to cause match up problems. I think Brees does enough to beat Seattle on their own turf.
NFL 2014 Divisional Playoffs: Who will win - Saints or Seahawks?
- Seahawks (64%, 14 Votes)
- Saints (36%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 22
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Rich Stowe: Patriots, 21-17. A dome team coming to New England in January? You have to go with the Patriots. While the Colts may just be the hot team in this year’s playoffs and have big wins over many of these playoff teams this season, I think their season ends at the hands of Tom Brady.
Jamal Cadoura: Patriots 34-24. For as well as Andrew Luck’s played, he’s still young. The Patriots don’t possess the best defense, but Bill Belichick’s exotic looks and schemes will confuse Luck, causing mistakes. Tom Brady and his team are very difficult to beat at home.
Kimani Gregoire: Patriots 37-24. Lost in the epic comeback by the Colts (or colossal choke job by the Chiefs) is the amount of injuries the Chiefs had during the game. I look for Aqib Talib to take away Andrew Luck’s top target (T.Y. Hilton) and for the Patriots running game to dominate this game.
Brian Podoll: Patriots, 35-31. Indianapolis barely made it past KC by the skin of their teeth in a home victory under their roof. The tradition of the Colts finding less favorable climes in the outdoors at Foxboro is likely to continue. Both teams operate in a bend-but-don’t-break manner defensively and the Colts are more apt to generate turnovers, but with Tom Brady unlikely to give the ball away, home field and experience prevails for the Patriots here.
John Yeomans: Patriots, 36-33. The Colts are coming off an epic comeback where they were down by 21 points at halftime and came roaring back to win 45-44. Now they venture up to New England to face the Patriots, who are 11-3 at home in the playoffs since Tom Brady has started at quarterback. With Andrew Luck at quarterback, the Colts will be in this game no matter what the score is especially with how banged up the Patriots defense is. However, Bill Belichick will make the right calls and once again prove he is a genius coach, with his leader Tom Brady most likely leading New England on a game winning drive.
Mike Santangelo: Patriots, 37-27. The Colts are good, and after that comeback last week have to be on a high heading in to this week’s game. But, with no real defense to speak of, the Colts can’t win a shootout with the Patriots.
Alex Brooks: Colts, 30-24. The Colts are hot, and we all know that a team getting hot at the right time can lead to a Super Bowl (not going that far yet) but a win over the Patriots is in their future. The Pats have been playing way above their heads this year, with all the injuries they have sustained, and Brady not having a “Brady” year. The Colts did just give up 44 points and 378 yards passing to Alex Smith, but they scored 45 and came back despite the horrible start that Luck had. The Pats also don’t have a defense like the Chiefs had, so I expect Luck to have a huge day and lead the Colts to a victory.
Zach Krpan: Colts, 32-19. Andrew Luck dug his team out of a hole last week, I think he does it again. Tom Brady got his team this far and that’s impressive considering his offense is cobbled together. However, I don’t think the Patriots will be able to pull this one off.
JR Williams: Colts, 29-21. The Patriots squeezed their way out of countless close games this year, unfortunately all that luck will run out when Andrew Luck (no pun intended) and company come to town to put an end to the Patriots playoff season. While Brady is a better pocket passer, Luck is a bigger threat and I expect him to make life difficult for the Patriot defense.
NFL 2014 Divisional Playoffs: Who will win - Colts or Patriots?
- Patriots (70%, 14 Votes)
- Colts (30%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 20
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
Rich Stowe: 49ers, 38-31. While last time these two teams met, it was a defensive exhibition (final score was 10-9), I don’t see that happening this time around. I do believe it will come down to the final drive, with Kaepernick and the 49ers winning on that final drive.
Jamal Cadoura: 49ers 24-20. Cam Newton and the Panthers aren’t the most explosive offense. The 49ers defense will neutralize them. Colin Kaepernick and his squad will do just enough to win.
Kimani Gregoire: 49ers 23-20. The Panthers went into Candlestick and beat the 49ers 10-9 during the regular season. I think the 49ers get their revenge here. The difference will be 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree who missed the regular season game due to Achilles surgery. Kaepernick looks like a different quarterback now that he has his favorite target back.
John Yeomans: 49ers, 20-17. The Panthers and 49ers had a defensive slugfest earlier in the year that saw Carolina squeak by with a 10-9 victory, which got everybody’s attention and showed they were for real. Just like I said the last time, these two teams are carbon copies of each other as they have dual-threat quarterbacks, dominating defenses, and rely heavily on the run. The one difference in this contest from the last one is the 49ers will have Michael Crabtree who was injured and Vernon Davis who went down early in the last game; while the Panthers will have their best receiver, Steve Smith playing banged up, which will lead to a San Francisco victory.
JR Williams: 49ers, 27-21. My instinct is telling me to pick the Panthers but I’m not quite convinced the team can put up enough points to out-duel the 49ers. The Panthers have the best defense in the league but they have displayed issues putting up big points against some of the better teams in the league.
Brian Podoll: Panthers, 19-17. San Francisco will not have to combat the elements like they did to escape Green Bay, but the Panthers already proved they could beat the 49ers in the Bay on November 10, even if it was a 10-9 squeaker. Like Seattle, Carolina has a defense and their 4-3 alignment held Colin Kaepernick to 46 passing yards in the regular season meeting. The Packers might want to take some notes during this game, if they ever hope to beat the 49ers.
Alex Brooks: Panthers, 27-17. Cam is playing like a Pro Bowl quarterback, and everything is falling together for them at the right time. The Panthers defense is much better than that of the Packers who the 49ers just barley beat. The 49ers are coming in hot, but I think that everyone is under estimating the Panthers, both offensive and defensive wise. The 49ers play far from their potential and if they play like that against the Panthers it is going to be a long day. Cam will have a break out game leading them to a 10 point victory over the streaking 49ers.
Zach Krpan: Panthers, 19-14. This is going to be a defensive battle. Carolina and the 49ers have excellent defenses and I think both will contain the mobile quarterbacks. Points in this game will come through the air. Cam Newton has been better than Kapernick and I have a feeling that is what will win this game.
Mike Santangelo: Panthers, 17-14. This will be the game of the week – defense vs defense; young, talented quarterback vs young, talented quarterback. It’s the immovable object vs the unstoppable force. But, Panthers are at home, Cam has been on fire, and while Kaepernick looked good last week, he hasn’t looked to be the same guy as last year. Panthers eke out a close one.
NFL 2014 Divisional Playoffs: Who will win - 49ers or Panthers?
- 49ers (73%, 16 Votes)
- Panthers (27%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 22
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Rich Stowe: Broncos, 31-13. Peyton Manning in Denver I think is just too tough to beat this year. He is going to set out to prove that he can do it in the cold in the January. I think he takes no mercy on the Chargers to prove this point and this game won’t be as close as even my final score appears.
Kimani Gregoire: Broncos 28-24. The Chargers went into Denver and took care of the Broncos during the regular season. Defensively, the Chargers always seem to hold their own against Peyton Manning (going back to his days at Indy) and the running game is coming on at the right time. This will be a very competitive game but I think the Broncos will squeeze out a victory. Look for a big game from Wes Welker (who was absent during the Broncos loss) as Manning looks to the slot receiver to move the chains.
John Yeomans: Broncos, 41-40. The Chargers have been on a roll winning six straight and shocking everybody last week as they dominated the Bengals on their home turf. About a month ago, San Diego went to Denver and shocked Peyton Manning and the Broncos, so we all know it is possible that the Chargers can win. If you dig deeper, you will be see that Phillip Rivers and the Chargers knocked out Manning when he was with the Colts in 2007 and 2008. Despite knowing all this, I just can’t pick against Manning in the Broncos, as I believe they will be ready after being stunned in the last go around and also have Wes Welker back.
Zach Krpan: Broncos, 45-21. Peyton Manning and his Broncos have too many weapons. The Chargers simply won’t be able to keep up with the league’s best quarterback. I think the Chargers will play well and fight back, but the offense of Adam Gase and Peyton will be to much to handle.
Mike Santangelo: Broncos, 38-31. Shootout of the highest order here. Denver has no defense to speak of, the Chargers are ok, but, as revitalized as Phillip Rivers has been, this is Peyton’s show. In a shootout, I’ll take Peyton every single time.
JR Williams: Broncos, 31-21. I’d never go against Peyton Manning and company at home in the playoffs. Manning is having a record year but the Chargers could go in and put the pressure on the Broncos as they have defeated Denver at home already this season. In the end, the Broncos are a better team, they just have to protect the home field.
Jamal Cadoura: Chargers 34-30. Phillip Rivers is playing some of his best football as of late. He already performs really well at Denver anyways. Peyton Manning on the other hand, isn’t top-notch in the playoffs.
Brian Podoll: Chargers, 28-27. After whiffing about the Bengals being the sleeper team of the post-season, that notion now shifts to the Chargers, who proved they could win at Denver by holding the Broncos to 18 rushing yards on December 10. San Diego demonstrated they would not be deterred by the chilly, wet conditions in Cincinnati, either, and Philip Rivers may be the best current veteran QB to never reach a Super Bowl. Look for the Chargers to narrowly take another step in that direction in the weekend’s only real upset.
Alex Brooks: Chargers, 37-30. Okay I know this sounds weird, but there is reason behind it – since 2009 the winner of the Super Bowl beat the Eagles during their first home game, no really look it up. Guess who that was this year…you guessed it the Chargers. Plus the Chargers are coming into the playoffs hot, and with a bit of luck during the Chiefs game. Manning will have home field advantage, but it has been in the negatives all over the country, and the only knock on Manning is that he plays bad in cold weather. I don’t like the Chargers because they are off one game and on the next. I just don’t think that the Broncos are Super Bowl contenders despite having an amazing regular season. Just a gut feeling so I’m going with it, Chargers win.
NFL 2014 Divisional Playoffs: Who will win - Chargers or Broncos?
- Broncos (75%, 15 Votes)
- Chargers (25%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 20
Here are our playoff prediction standings (based on winning percentage – the number of right picks)
|1st Place||Zach Krpan||2||2||0||0.5|
|1st Place||Mike Santangelo||2||2||0||0.5|
|1st Place||Kimani Gregoire||2||2||0||0.5|
|1st Place||John Yeomans||2||2||0||0.5|
|2nd Place||Sports Unbiased Consensus||1||2||1||0.25|
|2nd Place||Rich Stowe||1||3||0||0.25|
|2nd Place||JR Williams||1||3||0||0.25|
|2nd Place||Brian Podoll||1||3||0||0.25|
|2nd Place||Alex Brooks||1||3||0||0.25|
|3rd Place||Jamal Cadoura||0||0||0||0|
About the Author: Rich Stowe
Rich Stowe has written for many sports-based websites over the years including Informative Sports.com, Sports Nickel.com, Dugout Report.com and was a Featured Columnist for MLB and the New York Yankees for Bleacher Report. Rich is a Lifetime member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). He is also a self-published author - his book "From Abused Puppy to Beloved Family Member: The Life Story of Jacob the Rottweiler" can be found for the Kindle and in print through amazon.com.