AFC Divisional Playoff Predictions

This weekend we will witness the Divisional round of the playoffs in sight of Gods and Tebows.  Last week I struck out on my two AFC Wild Card picks so hopefully I can do better this week.  We’ve got the main event Saturday night between the Patriots and the Broncos and then the less sexy affair between the Texans and Ravens.  Here’s what I see happening:

Denver Broncos (9-8) at New England Patriots (13-3), Saturday, Jan. 14, 8:00 PM, CBS

It will be Gronk City if Brian Dawkins can't go Saturday

This is a re-match from just a month ago when the Patriots went into Denver and beat the Broncos 41-23 thanks to a cluster of Denver fumbles.  Obviously Tim Tebow shocked us all this past Sunday when he went aerial all over the #1 defense in the NFL and amassed 316 yards passing in his playoff debut.  While you don’t expect him to do it again the truth is there isn’t a better defense for Tebow to do it against.  The Patriots are in a precarious position facing Tebow.  They have a weak secondary and their rush defense isn’t that much better but I’d put more faith in their front 7 and the back end of their defense.  Do they stack the box to stop the run like Pittsburgh did and dare Tebow to beat them through the air?  If they do that then it leaves their corners on an island, where they’ve struggled all year.  If they try to guard the pass will that open things up for the run game?  The Patriots of last decade wouldn’t have these problems, they would just smother opposing offenses by air or by ground.  These are not those Patriots.  Broncos Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy will have options as he runs his offense against the Pats D.  The Broncos should put up points as long as they don’t turn the ball over.  Their problem will be that the Patriots play offense too.  The Broncos defense can get pressure on the quarterback but they give up yards.  They were the #20 defense in the league this year.  If starting safety Brian Dawkins is out expect Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to have huge games.  The only chance that the Broncos have of stopping the Patriots is getting to Tom Brady, which they can do, but if they don’t force mistakes Brady will pick them apart.  If you are a fan of defense this game will not be for you.  It will be cold but it won’t matter.  Neither of these defenses are good at all and points will be scored in droves.  They are both cold weather teams that have offenses tailored around surviving in the elements.  Last week I tried to talk myself into picking Tim Tebow in an upset but I just couldn’t convince myself.  Once again I am trying to talk myself into it this week and once again I just can not convince myself that the Broncos are going to win this game.  Stranger things have happened, especially in games where a lot of points are scored, but I’ve got to go with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense in this one.  It’s going to take a big number but I think the Pats have one more big offensive game in them before they’re done and they’ll score 40+ to take this one.

Prediction – New England Patriots 42, Denver Broncos 31

Houston Texans (11-6) at Baltimore Ravens (12-4), Sunday Jan. 15th, 1:00 PM, CBS

Ray Rice will pace the Ravens on offense

The Houston Texans beat the Cincinatti Bengals going away last week in their first ever playoff game.  They’ll now face the Bengals’ division rivals, the AFC North Champion Ravens in Baltimore.  You saw the best of Houston last week, a smothering defense that creates turnovers and a two-pronged run game that grinds you down.  This week they face a different opponent in the Ravens.  The Ravens are the AFC’s #2 seed and had the #3 defense in the NFL this season.  They also pound you in the run game with little Ray Rice and bring in vet Ricky Williams to change the pace.  This looks like it will be the opposite of the Saturday game, a game for the defenses and the running backs.  The Texans boast the #2 defense but Ray Rice is small and shifty and can find holes.  Once he finds one you have a hell of a time catching him.  The wild card may be Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.  Flacco is not a stud quarterback by any stretch but he is a playoff tested quarterback.  He’s one of those guys who remains effective because he limits his mistakes.  If he can neutralize the Texans’ ball hawking defense the Ravens will be in good shape.  On the other side rookie T.J. Yates got his first playoff win under his belt last week but he faces a far stiffer test this week when he goes up against the playoff tested Ravens defense.  Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata – they all have vast playoff experience and have all played at a high level in the post season.  This might be where the Texans inexperience hurts them.  They shook off the Bengals in their first playoff test at home.  The Bengals are one of the younger teams in the league.  The Ravens aren’t.  I expect the Ravens’ defense to come out pumped up with their home crowd behind them and smother the Texans offense.  Defensively I think the Texans will hold their own but in the end they will get a little more Ray Rice than they can handle and the Ravens D will give their offense a short field at least once.  I like Baltimore to win it and earn a right to travel to Foxboro for the AFC Championship Game.

Prediction – Baltimore Ravens 20, Houston Texans 10

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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