NFL Saturday Divisional Playoff Predictions

It’s do or die week in the National Football League as the top 8 teams do battle in the AFC and NFC Divsional Playoffs.  Last week in the picks I went 3-1, with all four home teams winning I was right on with each pick minus the Cowboys, who really should have won if it were not for the slick hands of Tony Romo.  Today I will showcase the two Saturday Games, and then tomorrow to round out the week I will give my picks on the two Sunday games.  Here we go:

Indianapolis at Baltimore – The Ravens are in the postseason for the first time since 2003, and for the first time ever they are the number two seed in the AFC.  They have the number two ranked defense in the league, and have scored six TD’s on defense.  Their first playoff test comes in the form of Peyton Manning and the Colts, who despite a lackluster showing on offense last week were superb on defense in shutting down the Chiefs in a 23-8 win at the RCA Dome.  Things won’t be so easy this time around.  Indy will be a bit more battle tested after the Chiefs game, but could also be a bit more tired.  Their four losses this year all were on the road, and they have not won on the road since a Sunday night win November 5th at New England.  Since then they have been outscored on the road 112-72.  The alarming thing for Indy is that despite last weeks huge outing against Larry Johnson, the run defense is going to have to be really on guard this week against Jamal Lewis and the Ravens.  Baltimore is better at short passes and using Lewis running to wear a team down, and that is the game plan against the Colts.  Look for Lewis, who ran for 1,132 yards this past season to get at least 20-25 carries.  Steve McNair has to stay on his feet against a Colts pass rush that was solid against Trent Green last week at the Dome.  One thing to watch is that ESPN had a stat that McNair is the worst wet-ball QB in the league, and Saturday they are expecting rain and 65 degrees.  Manning was medicore at best last week, and if he throws three picks this week the Colts are headed home a loser.  Look for the Ravens to take away the running game of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes and then unleash the defense on Manning and force mistakes.  I think the week off will be a big lift for the Ravens, they will have fresher legs and will have enough to survive what should be a fun game.  The Colts will once again come up short in the divisional round, mounting more pressure on Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning for the media to wonder if they are ever going to be able to get it done in the postseason.  The Ravens move on.  Baltimore 24 Indianapolis 17

Philadelphia at New Orleans – In what should be a crazy atmosphere at the SuperDome, the Eagles try and continue what has become an unreal run against a Saints team that has to be nervous about the way they finished the season.  Philly has not lost a game since November 26th at Indy, Jeff Garcia’s first game as starting QB.  Since then all they have done is win six in a row, four games vs NFC East opponents, three road games, and now find themselves in the second round of the playoffs.  While the Eagles have all the momentum on their side, the team they are playing – the Saints, come in with some concerns.  New Orleans has had a storybook season, winning 10 games when many thought they would win between 3-6, and shocking the rest of the NFC South with taking home the division under first-year head coach Sean Payton.  The Saints got off to a fast start, but did lost four of their last eight, including two of their last three, both at home.  The home field advantage for the Saints has been beat up as of late, as they have lost four of their last five at the dome.  They did beat the Eagles 27-24 earlier this year at the SuperDome on a last play field goal, but that was way back in mid-October, and you can basically throw that out the window.  The crowd should be into this game big time, much like when the team took the field for the first time this season against the Falcons.  That will help early on, but the Saints are going to have to find a way to recreate the success they had on offense earlier this season when they were the most dangerous team in the NFC.  Drew Brees struggled in his last two full games, throwing for just 34-for-70 for 339 total yards and one TD.  He has to have some time to throw against an agressive front four of Philly, and needs big games from his teammates, Marquis Colston, Devery Henderson, Reggie Bush and Deuce McCallister.  In the first meeting the Saints only ran for 97 yards, and will have to run better to take some of the pressure off of Brees in this second matchup.  Garcia has been solid just about every week for the Eagles, and most of his success has been being able to improvise and make plays happen.  He has been careful with the ball as well, throwing just two picks to go along with 10 TD’s.  The Eagles came out a bit flat against the Giants last week, and cannot afford that on the road or they will find themselves down and not being able to comeback.  Most of the time the keys on the road are being able to play within yourself, not make mistakes, and if something goes wrong, being able to bounce right back.  The Eagles seem to have that vibe going for them right now, and I think with the fact that they have more playoff experience will play a big role in this one.  It’s been a great year for the Saints, but they still have some growing up to do.  Eagles streak continues as they fly into the NFC Championship game with Garcia at the controls.  Philadelphia 23 New Orleans 20              



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One Response to “NFL Saturday Divisional Playoff Predictions”

  1. Rockwell says:

    I have bad luck with Saturday games… but I’m with the Saints on this one. I think the Saints defense will be just enough for them to win.