NFL Playoff Picks: Surefire Predictions from Each Divisional Round Game

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 06:  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks recovers a fumble in the second quarter against the Washington Redskins during the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at FedExField on January 6, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Stars will be made and legacies will be confirmed during the Divisional Round of this year's NFL playoffs.

Predicting the playoffs can be difficult. If there was such a thing as a sure thing, it's the fact that you can count on that happening each and every postseason.

When looking at the matchups this weekend, there's a few things fans can count on happening. Here's one prediction for each contest that is bound to come true.


This Will Be Ray Lewis' Last Game

Ray Lewis has been a fantastic servant of the Baltimore Ravens and one of the greatest linebackers in football history.

He and the Ravens defense benefited from the inexperience of Andrew Luck in the Wild Card Round. They're not going to be as lucky going against Peyton Manning and a vaunted Denver offense.

There comes a point where the inspiration that comes from Lewis' last playoff run isn't enough to overcome a huge talent gap. That reckoning will come on Saturday.

Baltimore doesn't have the players on defense to match up with the Broncos' Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas.

The Ravens did well when these two teams met during the regular season. Manning only managed 204 yards and one interception.

Playing at home in the playoffs, Manning will reach a different level.


Colin Kaepernick Will Steal the Show

These playoffs are set up to be a showcase for the talents of 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. He's done extremely well since replacing Alex Smith in the San Francisco offense, and with each passing week, more and more of his critics are silenced.

Kaepernick is perfectly suited for this 49ers team. The defense is one of the best in the league and Frank Gore carries much of the offensive burden.

It also doesn't hurt that he's a dual-threat passer.

Considering the stress playoff football can carry, it's advantageous for the 49ers to give Kaepernick little to do in comparison to other playoff QBs who shoulder the offensive load.

His confidence can grow as Frank Gore eats up the yards on the ground. Then, as the defense creeps up, the secondary will be left exposed.


Marshawn Lynch Will Enter "Beast Mode" Again

Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run in the 2011 playoffs is considered one of the best ever in the postseason. With that fantastic scamper, "Beast Mode" became an entirely different animal.

No NFL team is hotter right now than the Seattle Seahawks.

Against the Washington Redskins in the Wild Card Round, Lynch rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries. He started a little slow, but as the game went on, he wore down the Washington defense.

The Atlanta Falcons ranked 21st in the league in terms of rushing yards allowed, so they're not an imposing defense to face.

Lynch will be able to wear down the Atlanta defense in much the same way.


Tom Brady Will Torch the Houston Texans for the Second Time

The Houston Texans have struggled against the pass in recent weeks. Johnathan Joseph and the secondary played well last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, but Andy Dalton shot himself in the foot more often than not.

Tom Brady isn't going to give Houston as much help.

In the New England Patriots' 42-14 win over the Texans during the regular season, Brady had 296 yards and four touchdowns.

There isn't a better playoff quarterback in the league right now than Brady. Time and again, he has come up huge in the postseason.

With the Texans defense on the decline, Brady should find yards easy to come by once again.