Site Editor Matt Loede’s NFL Picks for the Divisional Playoff Games

Owens to likely play vs the Giants 

Went with the home teams last week which in the end was a big mistake, but we move on now to the divisional games and usually those heavily favor the home teams. There are also some big lines in each game this weekend, so we’ll have to see how that factors into picks. Here are my picks for the four matchups on Saturday and Sunday.

NFC Divisional Game: Seattle at Green Bay (-8)

The Pack has had an outstanding season, winning 13 games with the re-birth of Brett Favre. This game really favors them, as they play a Hawks team that had to rally last week vs the Redskins at home. Green Bay will use a steady diet to Ryan Grant to soften up the Hawks secondary for some shots down the field. Seattle cannot run the ball at all, and staying in this game is going to come down to how well Matt Hasselbeck throws and it’s up to the Hawks O-line to keep him safe in the pocket. I forsee the Pack making a few big plays in the secondary and possibly even special teams, as they tend to make a big play or two there at home. The Seattle defense will put up a good fight vs Favre and company, but in the end, the Pack should be able to run enough, pass enough, and shut down the Hawks passing game to advance to the NFC Title game next weekend. Green Bay 27 Seattle 14

AFC Divisional Game: Jacksonville at New England (-13.5)

Come on ride the Train…at least that is what plenty of people are doing when it comes to the Jaguars. The media and fans alike are thinking that the Jaguars are going to be able to go into Foxboro, do what they want on offense, and walk away with an upset win and a shot in the AFC Title game. Think again. In the end the Jags have had a good season, and yes, they can run the football. But remember, this is the same team that allowed the banged up Steelers to rally from 18 down last week, and their secondary is liable to give up a big play at anytime. That plays right into the hands of Tom Brady and company, as he is going to eat apart the Jags. Don’t count out the Pats defense so fast, as it’s the unit that no one ever talks about, yet they always seem to play well in big games. The Pats will do enough to slow down the Jags run game, make David Garrard make some mistakes, and easily put up over 30 to get set for another AFC Title game at home next weekend. New England 37 Jacksonville 20

AFC Divisional Game: San Diego at Indianapolis (-8)

I like the look of the Colts a lot in this game, as they come in after a week off, and most of them didn’t play the second half vs the Titans in the last game. They are finally getting some guys back, as Marvin Harrison will play and start in this contest. The Chargers didn’t run well last week, and while the Titans front four is better than the Colts, Indy still has some guys that can make some plays and slow down L.T. and the Chargers. Philip Rivers will need to be totally mistake free, but will be without leading pass catcher Antonio Gates, which is going to be a big factor here. The Colts will use a lot of spread and throw quick to slow down the Chargers pass rush. Don’t look for Manning to throw six picks here like the first game, and look for a much more sound attack for the Colts that should be able to take advantage of a Chargers team that had to play hard last week and now have to travel and play in a tough dome in Indy. Indianapolis 24 San Diego 14

NFC Divisional Game: New York Giants at Dallas (-7.5)

Could the third time be the charm for the Giants? They have lost twice to Dallas, with each time the Cowboys having big offensive days with Tony Romo looking like a gunslinger making big plays. This time it’s a different game, and there are plenty of distractions around a Cowboys team that to me has not played all that well since their Thursday night win over the Packers. They have injury issues with Terrell Owens and Romo, and Romo has had to answer more questions about his love life this week than about the Giants, and I think that is a clear distraction. Plus the fact you have a Giants team that should be able to put heat on Romo, and hold the Cowboys run game in check. For the Giants, Eli Manning was on last week, and he will look to make plays down the field. Look for New York to give more shots to speedy rookie running back Ahmad Bradshaw as well to soften up the Cowboys defense. I just have a bad feeling that Dallas is removed from playing a good game, and everything on and off the field is finally going to bite them. NY Giants 23 Dallas 21

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