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NFL Playoff Schedule 2014: Updated Postseason Matchup Info and Predictions

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 22:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks looks downfield to pass against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on December 22, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 5, 2014

With the first day of NFL playoff games officially wrapped up, the schedule for the divisional round is beginning to take shape.

The Indianapolis Colts were able to pull off an incredible comeback win, coming back from 28 points behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the third quarter, making it the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history, according to ESPN.  Shortly after, the New Orleans Saints were able to win on the road and kick a game-winning field goal to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24.

With two games out of the way, below is an updated look at the playoff schedule for the rest of the Wild Card Round and the divisional round, followed by predictions for the games officially set to be played.

Playoff Schedule for Wild Card and Divisional Rounds
NFCDateTime (ET)TV
Wild Card Round:
San Francisco at Green BayJan. 54:40 p.m.FOX
Divisional Round:
New Orleans at SeattleJan. 114:35 p.m.FOX
Green Bay/San Francisco at CarolinaJan. 121:05 p.m.FOX
AFC
Wild Card Round:
San Diego at CincinnatiJan. 51:05 p.m.CBS
Divisional Round:
Indianapolis/Cincinnati at DenverJan. 124:40 p.m.CBS
Indianapolis/San Diego at New EnglandJan. 118:15 p.m.CBS

 

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 29:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens  at Paul Brown Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Date: Sunday, January 5

Time: 1:05 p.m. ET

TV: CBS

Prediction: 28-24, Bengals

With one of the most complete teams in the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals will be looking to take down the San Diego Chargers, a team that barely squeaked into the postseason, in the Wild Card Round.

But the Chargers deserve more credit than they've received heading into this game.  Their offense has been deadly this year, putting up 393.3 yards and 24.8 points per game.  And Philip Rivers had a career season, throwing for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns while posting a 105.5 passer rating.

The real issue for the Chargers will be on defense.  While the team started to get it together by the end of the regular season, the pass defense still ranked 29th in the league, allowing 258.7 passing yards per game.

Of course, this game will all depend on whether or not Andy Dalton can have a big game.  He can be a completely different quarterback at times, and it usually doesn't bode well for the Bengals.

Andy Dalton in Wins vs. Losses
Comp %YPATDINTRating
Wins64.28.162711101.8
Losses58.35.966967.7
Pro-Football Reference

With weapons like A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard going against this defense, I think that the good version of Dalton shows up, leading the Bengals to a relatively close victory.

 

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Date: Sunday, January 5

Time: 4:40 p.m. ET

TV: Fox

Prediction: 30-27, 49ers

Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) celebrates after scoring on a 56-yard touchdown run against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park.  Mandatory Credit: K
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

According to Weather.com, the forecast for game day is a high of five degrees Fahrenheit and a low of minus-22.  While all the talk has been on how the cold weather will impact the game, it's still going to impact both teams the same way.

The Green Bay Packers will have to focus on stopping the run, but that's not been a strength for their defense this season.  The Packers allowed 125 rushing yards per game during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the league.  Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers had the third-best running offense with 137.6 yards per game on the ground.

The big difference for the Packers heading into this game compared to their last meeting in the playoffs is that Green Bay now has an established running game.  Eddie Lacy is the favorite for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, as he ran for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

If the Packers can find a way to establish the run, then they'll have a shot.  But that will be very hard to do against the 49ers, who have a top-five defense that gave up just 316.9 total yards and 17.0 points per game.

With a strong defense and some big plays from Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers should win this game.  But don't count out Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, as there's a chance that they're getting healthy and heating up at the right time.

 

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

Date: Saturday, January 11

Time: 4:35 p.m. ET

TV: Fox

Prediction: 31-21, Seahawks

When these two teams met back in Week 13, the Seattle Seahawks came away with a dominating win at home, winning 34-7 over the New Orleans Saints.  While the Saints will likely make plenty of adjustments, they're still going to have a very hard time beating the Seahawks in arguably the loudest stadium in the NFL.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 04:   Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 4, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Get
Elsa/Getty Images

Playing in the toughest division in the NFL, the Seahawks still found a way to go 13-3 this season.  They may have lost their first home game in two years against the Arizona Cardinals, but they're still one of the elite teams in the league.

Drew Brees will have his hands full against the best defense in the league.  The Seahawks led the league in yards and points allowed, giving up just 273.6 total yards and 14.4 points per game.  When they took on Brees back in Week 13, they held him to just 147 yards passing and a touchdown.

The Seahawks also have a very underrated offense led by sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson.  He had another great year, throwing for 3,357 yards, 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, giving him a 101.2 passer rating.  He has Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, and to make things even better, there's a chance that he may also have Percy Harvin back for this game, according to Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk.

Overall, the Saints are outmatched across the board.  Any team can pull off the upset in the playoffs, but I still like the Seahawks to get the job done at home.

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