2011 NFL Playoffs logo2011 NFL Playoffs

NFL Playoff Predictions: Santonio Holmes and X-Factors for the Divisional Round

Holmes hopes to be celebrating frequently on Sunday.
Holmes hopes to be celebrating frequently on Sunday.Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Ethan NorofCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2011

There is an unbelievable slate of football on the horizon this weekend in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

The New England Patriots and New York Jets square off for the third time this season and the loser will have a bitter taste in its mouth throughout the entire offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers go head-to-head in a game of smash-mouth football that will have the winner riding high heading into the AFC Championship.

Which players are going to serve as the X-Factors and hope to guide their team to victory?

New York Jets at New England Patriots

The Jets are likely to have their hands full after a 45-3 shellacking at the hands of the Pats in their last matchup, and head coach Rex Ryan is doing a whole lot of smack talking once again.

With the Patriots looking to stay on the path to the Super Bowl, expect Bill Belichick to fire relentlessly with all sorts of things that the Jets have yet to see.

Mark Sanchez will have to bring his best game, while the Pats will unleash a potent ground attack that has given fits to opposing defenses around the NFL.

X-Factor: Santonio Holmes, WR, NYJ; Danny Woodhead, RB, NE.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

With both teams looking to put a clamp down once and for all on the AFC North, each will be looking to exploit the other's weakness.

The Ravens will look to spread the field with lots of multiple receiver sets so that Steelers safety Troy Polamalu cannot key in on one area of the gridiron, while the Steelers will look to take advantage of the big play and connect with WR Mike Wallace on the regular.

Ultimately, the Pittsburgh defense looks may prove to be too much to deal with for the inconsistent Baltimore offense.

X-Factor: Mike Wallace, WR, PIT; Ray Rice, RB, BAL.

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears

Nobody thought the Seahawks stood a chance against the Saints.

Everyone underrated the Bears throughout the season.

Now, the two teams that nobody has said much about square off against one another. With the Seahawks looking to continue riding the wave of momentum and the Bears looking to prove their true dominance in this season's NFL, look for the boys from Illinois to be the ones who make the most noise.

X-Factor: Mike Williams, WR, SEA; Matt Forte, RB, CHI.

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

Aaron Rodgers isn't going to let the Packers' playoff hopes dim without a strong fight to the finish.

Although the Packers face a tough test in the surprisingly successful Falcons, Green Bay almost blew by Matty Ice and crew the last time the two teams faced off.

While the Falcons are just about perfect at home with Matt Ryan under center, Rodgers is very capable of exploiting the Atlanta defense for exactly what it is: mediocre.

X-Factor: Greg Jennings, WR, GB; Michael Turner, RB, ATL.

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