Divisional Round Weekend Preview! Spectacular! Extraordinaire!

Well, that last weekend of playoff games is going to be pretty tough to follow, huh?  I’m saying right now the odds of this weekend being anywhere CLOSE to that exciting is slim-to-none.  MAYBE one good game will come out of the bunch; but divisional round games are traditionally not very good, and traditionally dominated by the home teams.  Yeah, it sounds amazing when you hear stats about at least one road team winning every year for however many years, but over the long haul, you’re looking at nearly 75% of the home teams coming away victorious.

Even though the matchups look pretty decent on paper, I bet we’re in store for some snorers.

New Orleans (6) @ Seattle (1), Sat, Jan 11th, 1:35pm

This game, I more-or-less covered yesterday.  About 85% of me thinks this game is at least a two-score victory.  I’m going to go with 33-13, Seahawks win.  Another 10% of me thinks it’ll be something closer; and about 5% of me thinks the Saints figure out a way to pull one out in the end.  0% chance of a Saints blowout victory.

Indianapolis (4) @ New England (2), Sat, Jan 11th, 5:15pm

I really want to like the Colts in this game.  Based on their last performance, how can you doubt a guy like Andrew Luck?  The Pats’ entire team is banged up, their best offensive weapon (Gronk) is out.  All they are is Tom Brady, a roll of duct tape, a couple paper clips, and a D-battery.  Meanwhile, the Colts on offense are a well-oiled machine, they’ve got a serious pass-rushing threat on defense, and they’ve got enough offensive weapons to give the Patriots fits.

Yet, I dunno.  I’ve had this feeling all along that we’d be looking at something of a chalk set-up with the playoffs.  I know that’s not sexy, but there’s a reason why the Pats are where they are.  They’re well-coached like you would not believe!  I fully expect Bill Belichick to have the Colts figured out by yesterday, with plenty of time to lounge around until gameday.

New England 38, Indianapolis 20.  Look for T.Y. Hilton to be frustrated.  Look for Luck to absolutely stink (until a late comeback falls well short).  Look for Tom Brady to be Tom Brady.

San Diego (6) @ Denver (1), Sun, Jan 12th, 1:40pm

I’ve had Denver going to the Super Bowl since the very beginning, so nothing’s going to change here.  I think Peyton Manning is hopping mad about all the disrespect he gets about playing in cold weather and he SHREDS the Chargers D.

Also, don’t think for a minute that the Chargers’ fortune at running the ball is going to continue.  The Broncos are going to get a big early lead – like 14-0 or 21-0 – and the Chargers are going to have to do everything they can to come back.  Philip Rivers looks like ass, and the Broncos win 42-15.

San Francisco (5) @ Carolina (2), Sun, Jan 12th, 10:05am

What Michael Crabtree is doing now is what I had hoped Percy Harvin would be doing.  Instead of JUST making it back and MAYBE playing in this Divisional Round game (like Harvin is doing), Crabtree is peaking.  He’s as good as he’s ever been, AND he’s fresh because he hasn’t taken a pounding all year.  He can play all the snaps you want to throw at him, and he’s a legitimate difference-maker for that team.  Jim Harbaugh is a blowhard (who, incidentally, blows … hard), so Crabtree doesn’t ACTUALLY have the best hands in the history of football.  But, he’s pretty fucking good.  And getting a pretty fucking good football player back from injury could be the difference between losing a game 10-9 and winning a game 10-9.

In this case, look for this game to be the “good one” of the weekend.  If you like low-scoring, defensive slug-fests.  I’ve got the 49ers winning this one 17-13, with the Panthers coming up just short at the end of the game.

***

Last week’s 2-2 effort still has me perfectly in line for my future predictions.  My NFC side of the bracket is perfect, and puts us squarely in line for my previously predicted championship matchups:

  • New England (2) @ Denver (1), Sun, Jan 19th
  • San Francisco (5) @ Seattle (1), Sun, Jan 19th

Let’s face it, this is what the people want.  Without a doubt, this is what the NFL brass wants.  If Championship Sunday looks like this, they’ll almost certainly make the NFC game the early game and put the AFC game in primetime on the east coast.  New England/Denver might just be the highest-rated non-Super Bowl televised program in the history of the world.  Hell, it might even rival some Super Bowl numbers!  The league wanted it last year, but got stuck with Baltimore/New England instead.  I think this is the year everyone gets the matchup they want.

As for the NFC, there’s no better possible matchup available, ratings-wise.  Frisco/Seattle is the league’s best rivalry right now and people are going to tune in in droves.  If we get these four teams, you might be looking at the highest-rated Championship Sunday ever.  Frisco/Seattle may lack the sexiness of the AFC game, but it’s more than going to make up for it with brutal, physical play.  Unless Seattle plays Frisco the way we always play Frisco at home, and we blow their shit away.

Of course, as a Seattle Seahawks fan, I’m going to be rooting against the 49ers in that Carolina game like you won’t believe.  At the very least, I hope THIS time we see some brutally hard hits on some of San Fran’s key players.  I want them nice and washed-out – if they do win – before they come to Seattle.

If it does end up a Carolina/Seattle matchup, I don’t think there’s any question that Seattle mops the floor with them (just like we did in 2005/2006).  Their offense won’t score into the double-digits, that’s for damn sure.

In the end, I’m pretty confident about my picks this week, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be upsets.  As long as Seattle comes away victorious, I don’t give two fucks about what happens in the other games.

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