With the NFL Wild Card games decided, divisional playoff games will officially be underway this weekend.
The AFC games will feature the Denver Broncos at New England and the Houston Texans at Baltimore. The NFC games will feature New Orleans at San Francisco and the New York Giants at Green Bay.
Here are projections, results and score predictions for all four games.
35-21 NEW ENGLAND
The Denver Broncos’ have their first playoff win under their belt since 2005, and will head into a hostile environment in New England this weekend with a young inexperienced team to take on a playoff-seasoned Patriots’ squad.
During the last three regular seasons, the Patriots have lost just once at home, and that was this year against the Giants. However, playing into the Broncos’ favor, the Patriots lost their 2009 Wild Card game in New England versus the Ravens and in 2010—again playing in New England—they lost their divisional game against the Jets.
Regardless, the last time these two teams matched up, during Week 15, the Patriots had the Broncos number and handily defeated them 41-23.
This game should go in favor of New England, but if Tim Tebow and crew want to try to pull off another miracle, Denvers' defense may want to try to hold the Patriots below 30 points. This was done just four times this year by opposing teams, but two of those times resulted in losses for New England.
The Texans and Ravens game will be a battle of running backs and defenses.
Both of these two teams relied on their running games heavily this season, as Ray Rice finished second in the league for rushing yards and Arian Foster finished fifth.
On the other hand, the two teams passing offenses finished right beside each other at 18 and 19.
For the Ravens, the challenge will be stopping the red hot Foster—coming off of a two-touchdown, 153-yard performance in the Texans’ Wild Card game with the Bengals.
This may not prove to be an easy task as the Ravens’ rushing defense was ranked second in yards allowed this year.
With the Ravens’ focused on stopping Foster though, a lot of pressure will lie on rookie quarterback T.J. Yates.
Playing in a hostile environment at Baltimore, where the Ravens have not lost once this year, will be a lot for the young Yates to handle.
This game will be close, but favor Baltimore.
38-24 NEW ORLEANS
Will the 49ers defense be able to slow down Drew Brees and the lethal Saints’ offense? That is the question heading into Sunday’s Divisional Matchup between San Francisco and New Orleans.
Last week in the Wild Card game against the Lions, Brees threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns, beating Detroit 45-28. In fact, the Saints have scored 40 or more points in their last four games.
This does not bode well for the 49ers defense that ranks 16th for passing defense.
On the other side, with the 49ers ranking 29th in passing yards this season, the Saints will be focused on stopping Frank Gore and the running game.
San Francisco’s biggest advantage will be playing on their home field where they have lost just once this season, but this will not be enough.
31-24 GREEN BAY
Both the Giants and Packers are using a little history as motivation heading into this game. For the Giants, motivation will come from their final minute 38-35 loss at home to the Packers this season during Week 13.
For the Packers, motivation will come from the lingering sting of the 2007 playoff loss in which the Giants defeated the Packers 23-20 in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl. Along with that, the Packers will be playing to honor the young son of their offensive coordinator, who passed away this week.
Playing the 15-1 Packers at home will be a huge challenge for the Giants, however they are coming off a complete team win last week against Atlanta in which the defense stepped up big and the offense executed successfully using a balanced attack.
Though this could be a score-for-score battle, it will end in favor of Green Bay.