NFL Divisional Predictions 2013: Projecting the Winners of All 4 Games

Chris Hummer@chris_hummerAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 06:   Doug Worthington #90 of the Washington Redskins tackles  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second half during the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at FedExField on January 6, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Thirty-two teams and 18 weeks later, there are only eight teams left in pursuit of a Lombardi Trophy.

The divisional round has arrived, meaning it’s time for the best football weekend of the season.

It’s great theater and absolutely nerve-wracking for fans of the remaining teams.

Each matchup has its glitz and glam factor, but these games usually come down to the quarterback that executes better and the defense that plays best.

With that in mind, let's pick the winner for every game of the divisional round.


Ravens at Broncos

This is, perhaps, the most intriguing matchup of the divisional round. Peyton Manning will make his playoff debut with the Broncos and Ray Lewis is potentially playing in his final game.

Denver rode an 11-game win streak into the playoffs, and it has been the best team in football the second half of the season.

The Ravens played well in their first-round matchup with the Colts, but the Broncos will be a completely different animal. Instead of a rookie QB, the Broncos feature a Hall of Famer at the position.

But the biggest difference between the Colts and Broncos is on the defensive side of the ball.

The Colts defense was 26th in the NFL during the regular season while the Broncos defense was second. That’s a big differential, and will make a huge difference in the game.

The first time these two teams met Denver dominated en route to a 34-17 victory. It should be closer this time, but expect the same result.

Prediction: Denver 28, Baltimore 17


Packers at 49ers

The 49ers are the NFL's most balanced team and the Packers have the NFC's best quarterback, so it sets up to be a heck of a matchup.

San Francisco's defense is fourth in the NFL against the pass and the run, and the 49ers rushing attack is as physical as any group in the league. The 49ers' only issue is at the quarterback spot, as first-year starter Colin Kaepernick is still a large question mark.

The Packers' success is based on one man, Aaron Rodgers. If he plays well, the Packers' explosive offense is hard to beat.

However, the 49ers have the running game needed to keep the Green Bay offense off the field, giving them a major edge.

Prediction: San Francisco 24, Green Bay 21


Texans at Patriots

Tom Brady vs. Matt Schaub, that is all you need to know about this matchup.

Brady is a three-time Super Bowl winner and Schaub won his first playoff game on Saturday. I wonder who has the edge.

In Week 14, the Texans traveled to Foxboro and the Patriots smashed Houston 42-14.

Brady played well, the Patriots defense was opportunistic in its play and Houston didn't have an answer for either.

Expect the game to be closer this time around, but not by much.

Prediction: New England 35, Houston 21


Seahawks at Falcons

This is a classic contrast of styles.

The Falcons like to push the ball downfield, expecting their quick-strike offense to put up points in bundles. Seattle, on the other hand, wins by playing a physical brand of football. It runs the ball with a purpose and features a great defense.

The old adage goes "defense wins championships," and that will ring true once again.

Seattle's talented cornerback stable will keep Roddy White and Julio Jones in check, taking away Atlanta’s best offensive option.

Matt Ryan will have to wait another year to win his first playoff game.

Prediction: Seattle 24, Atlanta 17