NFL Divisional Round Playoff Predictions

Tom Brady throws a touchdown pass against the Dolphins

Tom Brady throws a touchdown pass against the Dolphins

Jason Flam, Web Editor

After an unpredictable wildcard weekend, the NFL Playoffs move forward to the divisional round. The Seahawks pulled off the upset against the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints, Rex Ryan won his personal bout with Peyton Manning, Michael Vick’s magical comeback season fell short against the Pack, and the Ravens showed why the Chiefs had no business being in the playoffs. This weekend brings us more exciting matchups, and while predictions are not an exact science, it’s always fun to give it a try.

Matchup: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday, 4:30 ET on CBS

This very well may be the best game to watch all weekend. Both come in with identical regular season records of 12-4, and each won a game on the road against each other earlier in the year, with the Steelers taking the division crown thanks to a better division record. The two teams match up almost ridiculously evenly, but the Steelers have one thing the Ravens don’t: Ben Roethlisberger. He already has two rings to his name, and after last off-season’s troubles, he is hungry to silence his critics. It’s hard for me to see the Ravens beating the Steelers twice at Heinz Field in one season, especially in the playoffs. If the Ravens are going to win, it will be because Troy Polamalu is not one hundred percent. It will be a very close game and a defensive struggle going down to the wire, but the Steelers will prevail in this one.

Prediction: Steelers 21, Ravens 17


Matchup: New York Jets at New England Patriots, Sunday, 4:30 ET on CBS

Rex Ryan is on a mission to beat his archrival Bill Belichick in this divisional rivalry. Antonio Cromartie is out to make Tom Brady look like a fool for pointing at the Jets’ sideline after throwing a touchdown pass earlier this season. The Jets seem to make everything personal come playoff time, but it is Belichick, Brady and the Pats who are going to roll in this game and make Cromartie, Ryan, and the rest of the outspoken self proclaimed preseason “Super Bowl Champion” Jets look foolish. Ryan has made accusations that Brady does not study game film like Peyton Manning, and while he may be right, the sole difference between the two this year is that unlike Manning, Brady will beat the Jets. The Pats have the Jets on their home turf, and the Patriots’ offense is firing on all cylinders right now. Brady is the likely to be named the league’s MVP thanks to an outstanding regular season and a 14-2 record. He has three Super Bowl victories and numerous postseason appearances. The Jets are still inexperienced at many positions, most notably quarterback, and quite simply the boys from Boston aren’t. Expect the Patriots to expose a young Jets team that lacks the talent to compete with the premiere teams in the NFL.

Prediction: Patriots 34, Jets 14


Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons, Saturday, 8:00 ET on FOX

Green Bay has been plagued by injuries all season long, and amazingly they have found ways to win. Unfortunately, the Falcons are just too good to let the Pack slip through the cracks this time. Matt Ryan has one loss in his career at home in three years. Aaron Rodgers is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL, but the Falcons’ speed will just be too much for the Packers to handle. Michael Turner will run rampant all over Green Bay and open up the passing game for “Matty Ice”. Rodgers will be baited into making a few mistakes, and that will seal the Packers’ fate in this one. The Falcons didn’t have the NFC’s best record by coincidence.

Prediction: Falcons 24, Packers 13


Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears, Sunday, 1:00 ET on FOX

The Seahawks are coming off one of the biggest upsets in postseason history after defeating the defending champion New Orleans Saints last Saturday in thrilling fashion thanks in part to Marshawn Lynch’s ridiculous ground-shaking 67 yard TD run. But the Bears are feeling very confident going into this matchup after being embarrassed by Seattle at home in week six. Granted it is Jay Cutler’s postseason debut, the Bears’ defense will be able to force Matt Hasselbeck to throw some interceptions, and the Bears defensive line will shut down the Seahawks’ running game unless they find a way to run up the middle and past the speed of the Bears’ spectacular linebackers. Another reason the Bears will win is thanks to Pete Carroll’s ignorant decision to kick to Devin Hester. Odds are he will greatly regret it.

Prediction: Bears 27, Seahawks 10