Well, I went 4-for-4 in choosing winning teams during wild card weekend, although the Dallas Cowboys made me sweat it out a little longer than was necessary against Detroit in that final game. The formula stayed true, with 3 of the 4 winning at home, and one winning on the road. And I must say I’m very glad to see the Ravens come out of Pittsburgh alive to face the Patriots once again in the playoffs. Just like last weekend I think 3 of the home teams will win, and a team on the road will win in convincing fashion to reach the conference finals.
What we have in these matchups are teams that know each other, for the most part. The biggest disparity should be between the Panthers and the Seahawks, and yet they’ve played each other close in recent meetings, and the Panthers are hot at the right time. The Cowboys have never won every single road game in both the regular season and the playoffs, so tackling a red hot Green Bay team at Lambeau Field would be a good win for the mantle. Will Denver showcase its running attack against a Colts team that doesn’t defend the run well? And how about those Ravens? They have the opportunity to solidify their claim to greatness by taking out the #1 seed in the AFC. Here’s what I see happening…
BALTIMORE @ NEW ENGLAND
This may be the trendy pick, but it bears out based on not just history, but on recent history as well. The Ravens believe in themselves, that they can knock off the #1 seed on its home turf because they’ve gone into Foxboro and done just that before. Joe Flacco is as “big game” as they come, and there is no bigger game in their season than this one. I think the Ravens get pressure on Tom Brady and force him into making some bad decisions. If they can also shut down the Patriots’ run game this one might not even be close. I like the Ravens to advance.
CAROLINA @ SEATTLE
Any way I look at it, I just don’t see a rested Seattle team at home losing to a Panthers team that didn’t play perfectly in beating Arizona last week. I think based on recent results this game will be close, at least for a while, but I think the Seahawks pull away when it matters most, at the end, because they make fewer mistakes and the 12th man advantage is still alive and well. That stadium will be rocking hard, and I just don’t see the Panthers making the big plays in that atmosphere in the end. Seattle will host another conference championship game.
DALLAS @ GREEN BAY
Simply put, if Dallas plays this game the way they played against Detroit they will lose, and they will lose big. The only issue is if Aaron Rodgers’ calf is in good order, and with an extra week of rest I think it will be. In fact, Green Bay may have a better home-field advantage than even Seattle at this point, because that Packers offense can pick holes and take advantage of that Cowboys defense, and I don’t see Tony Romo keeping up, even having DeMarco Murray running the ball. I think this one will be relatively close, but Packers will win by 7 at home.
INDIANAPOLIS @ DENVER
You’ve probably heard it all before, but the Colts have become increasingly more one-dimensional, and you can be assured that Denver defense will come to bear against a suddenly relevant “Boom” Herron. He will not have the kind of receiving game against the Broncos that he had against a lackluster Bengals squad last week. The secondary for the Colts is suspect as well, and Peyton Manning will prove that he still has some gas left in the tank, exposing them time and again for big gains. Julius Thomas being healthy again helps in the aerial attack as well, and Luck will turn the ball over late. Denver rolls.
The Fantasy Ace