An all new week and the bracket is set. The Division round is the basic quarterfinal for the Super Bowl. Win division and you’re one step closer. The Division round includes 5 division winners (1 advanced in Wild Card) and 3 wild card teams (Two 6 seeds).
435 FOX (New Orleans at Seattle) (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch)
New Orleans Saints
Head coach: Sean Payton, 8th season (11-5) (2nd in NFC South)
2012 Record: 7-9
The Saints and Sean Payton return for redemption from their Week 13 loss against the Seahawks. The Saints weren’t particularly playing well on the road, but shook that bad habit by beating the Philadelphia Eagles last week with a game winning Field Goal. New Orleans will be coming in playing with a chip on their shoulder and hope to face the San Francisco-Carolina winner at their place.
GOOD WINS: San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers
BAD LOSSES: New York Jets, St. Louis Rams
The Saints have 5 players in the Pro Bowl
Head Coach: Pete Carroll, 4th season (13-3) (1st in NFC West)
2012 Record: 11-5
The Seahawks came into the playoffs with an impressive 2013 season. Their 13-3 mark is one of the reasons why they’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The last time the Seahawks had a 13-3 mark, they went to Super bowl XL. The Seahawks started the season 4-1 and had a 7 game win streak. The last 5 games, 3-2.
GOOD WINS: Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints
BAD LOSSES: Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals
The Seahawks have 6 players going to the Pro Bowl
PREDICTION: SEATTLE 30-NEW ORLEANS 20
815 CBS (Indianapolis at New England) (Greg Gumbel. Dan Dierdorf)
Head Coach: Chuck Pagano, 2nd Season (11-5) (1st Place AFC South)
2012 Record: 11-5
Behind by 28? Yeah, you’ll lose that one for sure. That last sentence is an understatement for Andrew Luck and the Colts. Somehow with the Chiefs leading 31-10 at halftime, the Colts came back and beat the Chiefs by 1. Oh. Nonetheless, being behind many scores could be an actual problem in New England. Colts will once again continue the New England-Indianapolis rivalry, but it has lost its touch because it’s been about Manning and Brady.
GOOD WINS: San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs (2x)
BAD LOSSES: Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals
The Colts have 1 player (Robert Mathis) in the Pro Bowl
New England Patriots
Head Coach: Bill Belichick
2012 Record: 12-4
The Patriots are doing what they usually do in the postseason, win the division and hope to have the 1st round bye. The first round bye has been working in their favor ever since Tom Brady took over at Quarterback. The first round bye is a big factor for Patriots because it allowed them to easily enter the Superbowl in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2011. The bye is in New England’s favor, can they still be my AFC champion when I picked them in the pre-season?
GOOD WINS: Denver Broncos
BAD LOSSES: Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins
The Patriots have 4 players in the Pro Bowl
PREDICTION: NEW ENGLAND 30-INDIANAPOLIS 24
105 FOX (San Francisco at Carolina) (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews)
San Francisco 49ers
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh, 3rd Season (12-4) (2nd Place NFC West)
2012 Record: 11-4-1
The San Francisco 49ers are hot and are taking care of business. The 49ers had the balanced 6-2 halves this season, but actually went 11-2 after starting 1-2 to start the season. The 1st win was against the Packers, whom they beat last week in the Wildcard. Nonetheless, San Francisco is hot and will give Carolina a game.
GOOD WINS: Seattle Seahawks
BAD LOSSES: Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints
The 49ers have 8 players in the Pro Bowl
Head Coach: Ron Rivera, 3rd Season (12-4) (1st in NFC South)
2012 Record: 7-9
Speaking of hot, the Carolina Panthers have bode well this 2013 season. After starting 1-3, the Panthers went 11-1 to claim the South and earn a first round bye. The 11-1 stretch included a 8 game win streak, which is a franchise record. The Carolina Panthers are making their first playoff appearance since 2008.
GOOD WINS: San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots
BAD LOSSES: Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints
The Panthers have 5 players in the Pro Bowl
PREDICTION: SAN FRANCISCO 30-CAROLINA 27
440 CBS (San Diego at Denver) (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson)
San Diego Chargers
Head Coach: Mike McCoy, 1st Season (9-7) (3rd Place AFC West)
2012 Record: 7-9
Someone needs to tell the Philadelphia Eagles not to schedule a playoff team as their home opener. For what it’s worth, the Chargers have been put in this unusual statistic. As much is to be said, Chargers looked good in Cincinnati and cold-weather doesn’t mean anything to them. The Chargers are playing rubber match against the Broncos and all they have to do is hope they play in either Indianapolis or New England. What a treat if it is Indy-San Diego, it’s like San Diego likes the Midwest for the 2013 playoffs.
GOOD WINS: Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs (2x), Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals
BAD LOSSES: Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins
Head Coach: John Fox, 3rd season (13-3) (1st in AFC West)
2012 Record: 13-3
As odd as it seems, Denver did exactly what they did last year to grab the homefield advantage. Denver likes their chances for a Super Bowl this season (just like last year…), but must take care of business against San Diego and end the statistic. Quarterback Peyton Manning is likely to be the NFL MVP this season when he had the most TD in a NFL season (broke his 2004 record and beat predecessor Tom Brady) and passing yards with 5,477 (predecessor was Drew Brees in 2011). If Broncos avoid the Week 15 meltdown loss against Chargers, Broncos will enjoy another week at home facing either Indianapolis or New England. Manning will love the AFC Championship if they win this game.
GOOD WINS: Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs (2x)
BAD LOSSES: Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers
The Broncos have 5 players in the Pro Bowl.
PREDICTION: DENVER 41-SAN DIEGO 24
TEAM: (1-3 Wild Card) SEATTLE, NEW ENGLAND, SAN FRANCISCO, DENVER
OVER UNDER: SEA (50), NE (54), SF (57), DEN (65) NET PT (25)
Next Post: January 19, Conference Championship