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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Jan. 6, 2011

NFL divisional round predictions

By Senior Airman Patrick McKenna 11th Wing Public Affairs

New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks
- Congratulations to all the Seahawks fans out there reading this, because nobody(including yourselves) could have predicted the good fortunes that came your way this season. Sure, it was evident going into the season the NFC West wasn't exactly a powerhouse division, but to win the division (and get a home playoff game) with a 7-9 record is an NFL first. To top it off, the Seahawks were 2-5 against teams with winning records so they must have no shot against the Saints on Sunday, right? Not so fast. The Saints know what this time of year is all about and playing on the road, even in front of Seattle's tough "12th man" crowd, won't faze them. What will hurt them, however, will be them missing their two top power backs in Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas to injuries. That leaves them with the running back tandem of Reggie Bush and Julius Jones for the playoffs. Thankfully for the Saints, their bread and butter is the aerial attack and they are playing a Seahawks defense that was 27th in the NFL in passing yards allowed and gave up the second most passing touchdowns this season.

Seattle could make it interesting if they can get their running game going and force Drew Brees to turn the ball over(he had 22 interceptions this year), but in the end the Saints are too talented on offense and too experienced a playoff team to lose to a team that's lucky to even be in the playoffs.

Prediction: Saints        27
                    Seahawks 13

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts - Neither one of these teams was clicking on all cylinders as they entered the playoffs, but each for different reasons. The Jets struggled down the stretch (2-3 in their last five games) and the Colts, while ending the season 4-0, are struggling with injuries and are not the same team that made it to the Super Bowl last season. The Jets live and die by blitzing the opposing team's quarterback into oblivion and having a solid running game to take the pressure off the inconsistent Mark Sanchez. The problem with that defensive philosophy is that Peyton Manning thrives at carving up blitzing attacks and is very familiar with the Jets defensive scheme. For the Colts, this game will come down to how well they are able to run the ball, thereby keeping Manning's patented play action passing a legitimate threat.

For the Jets, they need to get Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson into a rhythm which will keep the Colts off balanced and unable to double cover both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.

Prediction: Jets 24
                     Colts 20

Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs - This is the most intriguing AFC matchup of the weekend, as both teams have shown themselves to be quite dangerous and, especially in the Chiefs' case, as they are playing with house money after going 4-12 last season. Despite Matt Cassel's very solid year, his weapons shouldn't be overlooked. Dwayne Bowe had a monster year at receiver, but he was also prone to disappear in games. Jamaal Charles is a beast plain and simple and rookie tight end Tony Moeaki had a fine rookie season. The Ravens will counter with Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap.

On paper, the Ravens have the edge. They have the experience. They have the big name players. But, don't overlook the coaching experience that Kansas City possesses. With Charlie Weis running the offense and Romeo Crennel leading an athletic defense, they have two coordinators who have enjoyed enormous playoff successes. That experience is a big time X factor that will keep the Chiefs in this game.

Prediction: Ravens 27
                    Chiefs 24

Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles
- This is the most exciting game of the weekend. It features two of the most talented teams in the NFL, let alone the NFC. Barring some lousy weather at kickoff this should be a high scoring game with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver matching score for score with Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy. Philadelphia has the obvious offensive edge due to Green Bay's lack of a legitimate rushing threat. Green Bay, with Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, gets the nod defensively. The two factors that sway it to the Eagles favor are home field advantage and special teams. Green Bay is a cold weather team so playing in Philly's chilly temperatures won't rattle them, but the Eagles fans are ferocious and will be screaming every time Rodgers walks to the line. DeSean Jackson is a game breaking kick returner (right Giants fans?) who will force Green Bay's punter to choose between kicking it out of bounds and risking a poor kick or kicking it to Jackson and risking him taking it to the house. Add in the swirling winds and Eagles veteran kicker David Akers becomes a weapon as well.

Prediction: Eagles 31
                    Packers 21