The divisional round of the NFL playoffs is rife with rematches, with Seattle's road matchup in Atlanta being the only new one of this season.
Who are the experts picking? I took a look at picks from Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, USA Today and Yahoo experts—ESPN and NFL.com had not published predictions at the time of this post—to get some perspective.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos (-9)
If the experts are right, this game isn't even going to be close. Out of all the experts surveyed, Mike Freeman of CBS Sports is the only one who picked the Ravens.
Kint (@jason_kint) January 10, 2013
That is for good reason, considering Peyton Manning and Co. came into Baltimore and clobbered the Ravens 34-17 in Week 15 this season. The Broncos were merely flexing the muscle that has them riding an 11-game win streak.
This time Denver is home, even better-prepared and rested. While Peyton Manning has a history of first-game exits in the playoffs, it will be tough for the Ravens to overcome the odds.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3)
The Packers lost to the 49ers at home at the beginning of the season, but you wouldn't know it if you poll the experts.
The vast majority picked the Packers to win on the road. Just 10 out of 31 experts picked the home team, and five of them came from Bleacher Report.
The reigning league MVP won't be facing Alex Smith, who helped force Rodgers into the draft day green room until the Packers nabbed him late in the first.
Despite Rodgers' prowess and the fact Colin Kaepernick is making his first playoff start against a healthy Packers defense, the game is essentially a tossup according to the odds—the 49ers are getting 3.5 points largely because they are at home.
Bleacher Report's Nate Dunleavy echoes those sentiments:
This is a real toss-up game, and there's no reason to favor one team over the other. I'm taking the 49ers because of the home-field advantage, but if the Pack wins, I won't bat an eye.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
This game is a tossup based on the odds. Vegas isn't giving Atlanta much love, and neither are the experts.
Less than half of them predict the home team to win. Apparently most lack faith in Matt Ryan and the Falcons after three first-game exits in four seasons.
Russell Wilson is the last rookie quarterback standing after beating the Redskins on the road last week, and the Seahawks are surging at 8-1 over their past nine games. Will home-field advantage be enough for the Falcons?
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-9.5)
That is the number of experts surveyed who picked the underdog Texans to win in New England this weekend. Who could blame them after the 42-14 debacle that Houston put on the field there just a few weeks ago?
This is the same Texans team that cockily walked into Gillette Stadium last time and walked out with their letterman jackets between their legs. Marvin Lewis isn't coaching the Patriots, so Houston is going to see what a team actually prepared for the playoffs looks like. New England rolls. - Michael Schottey, Bleacher Report
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