NFL Playoffs 2013: Teams That Will Advance to Conference Championships
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Wild Card Weekend is over and the divisional round is upon us.
The Packers, Ravens, Seahawks and Texans have all passed their first test, making it out of their respective Wild Card Games.
Now the Broncos, Patriots, Falcons and 49ers will join the party after their first-round byes.
As these teams prepare for their divisional matchups, here are predictions for each game that you can take to the bank.
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will have their hands full with a Packer team with tons of momentum.
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The 49ers and the Packers met all the way back in Week 1. The 49ers started their season off on the right foot with a big 30-22 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
These teams will now meet in the divisional round of the playoffs, and a lot has changed for both teams since their Week 1 meeting.
For the 49ers, Alex Smith was the quarterback, and the Packers had their big free-agent pickup, Cedric Benson, in the backfield.
Now, it appears that Colin Kaepernick will be at the helm for San Francisco as Green Bay takes on the 49ers on Saturday, which is good news for the Packers.
The Packers defense is getting healthy at the right time as Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews appear to be getting back into form. Green Bay is coming off a win over Minnesota in which it gave up just 99 yards to Adrian Peterson on 22 carries, which was just the third time all season that AP didn't break 100 after carrying 20 times or more.
The Green Bay defense looks much better than it did the last time these teams met, and the offense has been firing on all cylinders. Aaron Rodgers has looked like his usual phenomenal self, and with Green Bay's newfound running game, the passing attack is set to explode for the Pack.
Prediction: Green Bay wins 35-21. San Fran's offense can't keep up with Rodgers and his talented receivers.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson won't have it as easy against the Falcons as he had it against the Redskins.
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Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks got a huge victory over the Washington Redskins during Wild Card Weekend, but have a much tougher matchup in the divisional round.
Now the Seahawks will take on the No. 1 team in the NFC in the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons come into this game after losing just three games in the regular season.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, they will be taking on one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Matt Ryan. Ryan has over 4,700 yards along with his 32 touchdowns and has played a huge role in making the Falcons the sixth-best passing team in the NFL, averaging over 281 yards per game.
The Seahawks defense has been good this season, holding opponents to low numbers in both passing and rushing, but the Falcons offense is just too strong.
Prediction: Atlanta wins 45-14. The Seahawks' talented secondary will make a few big plays, but Matt Ryan will get the last laugh as he has a huge day.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos
Will Ray Lewis' emotional return to the Ravens continue motivating them against the Broncos?
The Ravens beat Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to advance to the divisional round. Now they'll face Peyton Manning and the 13-3 Denver Broncos.
The Ravens defense is in for a big challenge as it comes to Peyton's house in Denver. Peyton Manning has played like a man possessed all season, throwing for 38 touchdowns and over 4,600 yards. Peyton and the Broncos' fifth-ranked passing attack averages over 280 yards per game. The Ravens defense allows over 220 yards through the air on average.
Unfortunately for Ray Lewis and the Ravens, Denver is just too good. Denver is ranked in the top five in passing yards per game, opponent passing yards and opponent rushing yards per game. Baltimore's hit--or-miss offense won't be strong enough to beat the Broncos.
It doesn't help that the Ravens lost four of their last five regular-season games, one of which came from Denver in Week 15.
Prediction: Denver wins 21-3. Baltimore's D will contain Peyton to just two or three touchdowns, but Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense won't be able to keep up.
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Tom Brady and the Patriots look poised for another Super Bowl run. Can the Texans slow them down?
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The Texans-Patriots game will be one of the easiest picks in the divisional round. The Patriots put the boots to Houston in Week 14, beating them 42-14. The Patriots were red hot toward the end of the season, losing just one game since Week 7.
The Texans were the opposite. The Texans lost three of their last four games, including losses to Indianapolis, Minnesota and these very Patriots.
Houston looked very promising earlier in the season, but has struggled in the second half of the year.
Tom Brady and the Patriots offense are way too good, and the Pats have one of the 10 best rushing defenses in the league to contain Arian Foster. Schaub and the Texans passing game isn't reliable enough to get the job done.
Prediction: New England wins 45-21. This game will be very similar to the first meeting between these teams. Tom Brady will have a huge day and Matt Schaub won't be able to make enough plays.