Last week there were some very close and exciting games for Wild Card weekend. Indianapolis shocked the Chiefs by coming back from a 28 point deficit at halftime to win the game. The Chargers extended Cinncinati's playoff drought even longer by beating them handily. New Orleans silenced the critics about the cold factor by beating the Eagles in Philadelphia. And San Francisco continued their winning streak in freezing Green Bay weather. This week also looks pretty exciting with the Chargers at the Broncos, the Colts at the Patriots, the 49ers at the Panthers, and the Saints at the Seahawks. It should be a great weekend of football. But the question is which teams will show up? Here are my divisional round predictions.
Broncos 34 Chargers 30
This will be a tight game down to the final minutes. Yes I know Philip Rivers and the Chargers came to Denver a couple weeks ago and beat them. But the Broncos were missing some key players in that game. Wes Welker was out and so was Derek Wolfe along with Champ Bailey. It was also a short week because it was a Thursday game. This time the Broncos will have time to rest, have healthy players, and enthusiastic fans -- and I know that because I live in Denver. The Chargers offense will have a nice day but the Broncos will score on the last drive and finally get Peyton Manning a Playoff victory as a Bronco.
Patriots 27 Colts 23
In another tight contest New England will control the entire game. The Colts are young teams with a great developing quarterback. But the question is, was last week their Super Bowl? They played their hearts out establishing a miraculous comeback but they might have put all they had into that game. New England is a consistently competitive team and will outplay young teams so I think they will do it again. They will take away T.Y Hilton and make Andrew Luck uncomfortable and then Brady will go to work. Adding another chapter in the Manning--Brady bowl.
49ers 24 Panthers 26
The 49ers have been hot lately winning 7 games in a row including their playoff victory over the Packers. The Panthers were a hot team but when they lost to New Orleans it ended their winning streak. This game will probably determine which team matches up with Seattle. People might think the 49ers because they beat the Seahawks but I think the Panthers will be victorious. Yes, Steve Smith has battled injury and is still not 100%, but I like the Panthers as Super Bowl contenders. Their offense is still strong with Cam Newton, and the defense is still playing at a high level. They need to contain the 49ers high powered offense and I think they will do that. I think it comes down to a last second field goal and Cam Newton leads them down the field for the game winning score and his first playoff victory.
Seahawks 31 Saints 27
The last time these two teams played it was a meltdown for the Saints. This time I think it will be much closer. Last week against the Eagles, the Saints ran the ball really well while also establishing a strong passing game. What they need to do against the Seahawks is run the ball. Seattles defense is great but the front seven is probably the weakest part of the defense so the Saints establish the run. But ultimately Seattle is really tough at home for any team. The Saints will come close but not yet beat Seattle at home.
We should be in for another great weekend of NFL football. Hopefully there are some great and exciting games that come down to the wire. No matter who wins this week we'll have something to look forward to next weekend -- some great conference championships games.