NFL Playoff Bracket 2014: Updated Schedule and Predictions

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NFL Playoff Bracket 2014: Updated Schedule and Predictions
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The second day of the divisional round of the 2014 NFL playoffs features two games with bad blood between the contestants before the bracket can move on to the conference title games.

The San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos do not like each other for obvious reasons, considering both sides play in the AFC West and have already battled twice this season.

When the San Francisco 49ers visit the Carolina Panthers, it is just a simple matter of disrespect between two NFC juggernauts.

The feuds conclude on Jan. 12 as the divisional round comes to a close.

FanSided provides a look at the playoff bracket thus far:

Complete 2014 NFL Playoff Schedule
Round Date (Time) Visitor (Seed) Home (Seed) Broadcast/Stream Info
Divisional Jan. 12 (1:05 p.m. EST) San Francisco 49ers (5) Carolina Panthers (2) Fox
Divisional Jan. 12 (4:40 p.m. EST) San Diego Chargers (6) Denver Broncos (1) CBS
AFC Championship Jan. 19 (TBA) TBA TBA CBS
NFC Championship Jan. 19 (TBA) TBA TBA Fox
Super Bowl XLVIII Feb. 2 (6:30 p.m. EST) TBA TBA Fox

San Francisco 49ers vs. Carolina Panthers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a 12-4 record, a first-round bye and home-field advantage, not many are picking the Panthers to defeat the 49ers.

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is not amused, especially when paired with the fact the Panthers were given little credit for a Week 10, 10-9 victory over the 49ers. He explains the situation, via Max Henson of the Panthers' website:

Because they don't respect us. I feel like they don't respect us at all.

When we beat those guys the first time they were like, "We beat ourselves. Carolina didn't do anything. We made mistakes."

We went on the road and beat the defending NFC champs. That was a huge win. I don't care how anybody else looks at it. We went in their house and got the win, and it kind of changed our season. That was a key victory.

Fans can discredit the Panthers all they want, but the fact remains the elite defense held San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a measly 91 passing yards in the win.

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While that number came without receiver Michael Crabtree (he has recorded more than 100 yards in two out of his last three games), there is nothing to suggest the star receiver's return means Kaepernick will have more time to get rid of the ball in the face of a stout rush that generated 43 sacks in the regular season.

The NFC South champs have a chip on their shoulder at home. After allowing an average of 15.1 points per game in the regular season, the Panthers come out of their bye on a mission. San Francisco will be sluggish after an emotional win over Green Bay in the Wild Card Round.

Prediction: Panthers 13, 49ers 10

San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos

Simply put, the Chargers are a scary team.

Much has been written about how quarterback Philip Rivers has turned things around this season, but the real story is on the defensive side of the football with linebacker Melvin Ingram. 

San Diego was pathetic in terms of rushing the passer before Ingram's return late in the season. In the last three weeks, Ingram has notched a sack, an interception and six pressures.

Ingram is someone the Broncos have hardly had to deal with yet this season despite two meetings with the Chargers.

Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase says this is a major issue, per Andrew Mason of the Broncos' website:

Obviously that causes a different dimension as far as a problem...He does a great job of mixing it up. It is not an easy scheme to play against and he does a very good job of keeping you off balance.

Ingram has been dialed in on the Broncos for quite some time now, per the Chargers' Twitter account:

Which team will win?

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This should concern Denver fans. Quarterback Peyton Manning threw for just 289 yards, two scores and an interception in a Week 15, 27-20 loss to the Chargers at home. He got all of 18 total rushing yards in support.

Outside of Seattle, there is arguably not a more complete team currently in the postseason. Denver certainly does not qualify thanks to a porous defense. Manning will fail to put the team on his shoulders after receiving little help against the Chargers.

Prediction: Chargers 30, Broncos 28

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