Saturday, January 16, 2016

2016 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Predictions

Chiefs at Patriots (Saturday, 4:35 ET): While the Patriots may not have ended the season how they would have liked, the bye week gave players like Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Julian Edelman, and Tom Brady additional time to heal from their respective injuries. The Chandler Jones saga that unfolded this past week may have served as a major distraction, but if there's any team capable of winning amidst a controversy, it's the New England Patriots. The Chiefs have to deal with injuries of their own, where Jeremly Maclin, Tamba Hali, and Justin Houston are all questionable and may not be full strength if they end up playing. Under Tom Brady, the Patriots are 14-3 at home in the playoffs, and while the Chiefs have an outstanding pass rush capable of causing trouble for this weak Pats offensive line, I predict the Pats to return to their winning ways.
Patriots over Chiefs 27-17



Packers at Cardinals (Saturday, 8:15 ET): This team played each other in Arizona just three weeks ago, a game where the Cardinals dominated against Rodgers and the Packers in a 38-8 victory. The Cardinals recorded nine total sacks that game, even without their star safety Tyrann Mathieu. Offensively, the Cardinals will rely on Carson Palmer and the passing game, who has a career passer rating of 66.5 in his two playoff games (both losses). This number is very different from Rodgers' career passer rating of 100.3 in his 13 career playoff games, yet this year Packers team is very different from the offensive powerhouses of the past. This game will be much closer than the Week 16 blowout, but Arizona will still find a way to win.
Cardinals over Packers 31-23
Seahawks at Panthers (Sunday, 1:05 ET): The Seahawks honestly have no business playing in this divisional round after Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh missed a chip shot for the win. Yet despite a close game one week earlier in frigid Minnesota weather, I still love the Seahawks to beat the Panthers in Carolina. Marshawn Lynch is "ready" for Carolina tomorrow, which is good for the Seahawks offense since it will be difficult to throw the ball with tomorrow's poor weather conditions. Cam Newton has thrown 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in his three career playoff games, and even though the Panthers beat the Seahawks in Seattle this past October, that was before the Seahawks caught fire later in the season.
Seahawks over Panthers 20-17
Steelers at Broncos (Sunday, 4:40 ET): The chances of the Steelers beating the Broncos in Denver are decreasing by the day, where receiver Antonio Brown and running back DeAngelo Williams have both been ruled out for Sunday's game. Even star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is far from full strength, but if there's any quarterback capable of winning a playoff game with a plethora of injuries, it's Big Ben. Peyton Manning for the Broncos likely won't have to carry his team through the playoffs this year thanks to a decent run game and outstanding defense, especially since he his 0-5 in the playoffs when the temperature dips below 40 degrees. If the Steelers were healthy, Pittsburgh would be the pick to win; however, Pittsburgh has too many injuries on offense to win this game.
Broncos over Steelers 21-10



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