NFL Playoff Picks: Most Likely Upsets in This Weekend's Divisional Round
There are no sure things in the divisional round of the playoffs this weekend.
No team is a definite winner. No team is a definite loser. And the "underdogs" don't have that much working against them, so the favorites better be prepared—especially those quarterbacks with no history of postseason success.
Here's a look at the upsets that could be on tap for this weekend's slate of playoff games.
No. 5 Seattle Seahawks at No. 1 Atlanta Falcons—Sunday, Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. ET
It may have taken the Seattle Seahawks a few minutes to get rolling on Sunday against the Washington Redskins, but roll they did—even on the road, even against a team that hadn't lost since early November.
Now, the Seahawks head on the road once again. They may be facing the NFC's top seed, but they are also facing a team that has been vulnerable to an upset loss or three this season. Oh, and they're facing a quarterback who has never won a playoff game while they have a rookie quarterback who has already won one in his first try.
The Falcons aren't a bad team by any means, but they've lost three of their last eight games and all of them have come against vastly inferior teams. The Seahawks, on the other hand, have the league's best defense (15.3 points per game), and their ninth-ranked offense isn't too bad, either. Atlanta may score an average of a little less than one more point per game more than Seattle, but that's not much, and defense trumps offense any day.
Maybe this year isn't the year for Matt Ryan to get the can't-win-in-the-playoffs monkey off his back.
No. 3 Green Bay Packers at No. 2 San Francisco 49ers—Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. ET
The Packers have struggled at times this season. The beginning of 2012 was rough—Green Bay lost three of its first five games. Even going back to last year's postseason, things weren't pretty—the Packers went one-and-done against the New York Giants in the divisional round.
Who's your pick to win?
But the team Green Bay sent out there against Minnesota last Saturday did not look like a vulnerable team. It looked like a team that had finally found its resolve. Its task wasn't easy—it had to face Minnesota for the third time in six weeks, and it had to beat the Vikings despite dropping the season finale to them one week earlier.
Maybe the Vikings didn't have their starting quarterback, but even so, they didn't stand a chance against Aaron Rodgers' offense and a defense that was nearly perfect prior to allowing a touchdown the fourth quarter.
The 49ers may have a second-ranked defense to brag about, but it is a defense that has been vulnerable to lapses this season, especially against mediocre teams like the Giants and the Rams (twice). Colin Kaepernick may have been impressive in the second half of 2012, but his lack of playoff experience against Rodgers, who won a Super Bowl just a couple of years ago? I'll take Rodgers any day, even on the road.
Pick: Green Bay
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