NFL Divisional Predictions from Horseshoe Heroes

Nov 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detail view of the NFL logo on the field goal padding before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detail view of the NFL logo on the field goal padding before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Here I am again, after an insane Wild Card weekend, I’ll make some predictions for the upcoming NFL Divisional Round games.

Before I go too far in this, I think it’s worth noting that I went 3-1 in last week’s picks, the only incorrect game being Washington/Green Bay. I don’t know if there are any gamblers out there reading this, but let’s just say you’re money is safe if you go by my picks.

Okay, that’s me being way too over-confident in these upcoming picks. In all seriousness, use discretion when allocating funds based on these picks.

Anyway, this week we’ll see the top two seeds in each conference in action, after a week of byes for those four teams. So with that said, let’s dissect these stellar match-ups, and make an impartial prediction.

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#5 Kansas City Chiefs v. #2 New England Patriots

Like I pointed out last week, the Chiefs defense is bent on causing turnovers to set the offense up with good field position. We saw this against Houston, as Kansas City picked Brian Hoyer off four times en route to a 30-0 victory. To point out the obvious, Tom Brady is not Brian Hoyer.

Brady will also get Julian Edelman back for this week, which should bolster a Patriots offense that has been struggling without him. Brady and the Patriots take care of the ball, and always have. This will spell trouble for the Chiefs defense and their insatiable lust for causing turnovers.

In the end, New England will not turn the ball over. This will play right into the Patriot’s hands as the Chiefs offense will be forced to win the football game for them. As good as Alex Smith has been, it’s the defense that has carried Kansas City to 11 straight wins. I don’t think they’ll make it 12 against the seasoned Patriots.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Chiefs 20

#5 Green Bay Packers  v. #2 Arizona Cardinals

Every Packers fan believes Green Bay is back after basically routing Washington last Sunday. Aaron Rodgers played well, and the offensive line did a good enough job protecting him.

Here’s the thing, lingering issues like quarterback and offensive line play ARE NOT solved overnight. Us Colts fans know that all too well. Sure, Rodgers played well, and was getting anything he wanted, but you have to realize that Washington’s secondary is beyond weak. Washington’s defense was no where close to competing with that Green Bay offense, no matter how inconsistent they were coming into the game.

Arizona’s defense is a lot better than Washington’s, in every facet. They have one of the best secondaries in the league, as well as a great pass rush. Do you think the Packers offensive line is just going to “figure it all out” in a weeks time? No.

On the other side of the field Carson Palmer and the Cardinals have the ability to slice up any defense, especially the dinged up Packers. Green Bay only mildly solved their issues against a soft defensive unit, Arizona is the furthest thing from soft.

Prediction: Cardinals 35, Packers 24

#6 Seattle Seahawks  v. #1 Carolina Panthers

Seattle lucked out last Sunday on a missed field goal by the Vikings late in the game. I think the weather in Minnesota seriously effected the Seahawks performance. They are not used to playing in such harsh conditions, and I think it hurt their offense.

They won’t be faced with those harsh conditions in Carolina by any stretch. What tips the scales in Seattle’s favor for me is their playoff experience. I mean, this is a team that is looking to play in their third straight Super Bowl! Cam Newton has never been in this situation as a professional, and I think that hurts the Panthers.

The Seahawks are going to make Newton uncomfortable with their pass rush, and that could lead to some errant throws from Newton. Reminder, that Seattle still has the best secondary in the entire NFL.

Russell Wilson was born to play in the playoffs, and the Seahawks could be getting Marshawn Lynch back as well. It will be close, but the Seahawks experience in big moments wins them this one.

Prediction: Seahawks 20, Panthers 17

#6 Pittsburgh Steelers v. #1 Denver Broncos

The Steelers will still be recovering from Sunday’s bloodbath in Cincinnati as they face the Broncos. Ben Roethlisberger should be ready to go, and I would expect nothing less from him. Pittsburgh will be without the league’s best receiver in Antonio Brown however. Brown was concussed after a vicious, illegal hit from Vontaze Burfict in the Wild Card round.

Brown’s absence will make it a little easier on an already good Broncos secondary. Look for Denver to bring a lot of pressure on Big Ben, especially since he’s already hurting. Don’t be surprised if Landry Jones has to come in and play in portions of this game.

Next: 2015 Colts Running Backs Review

Also the Broncos will start an old friend in Peyton Manning. As much as I want to be impartial in making these picks, I really want to see Peyton make one more run before he retires. I think the absence of Brown really hurts the Steelers, and I think Peyton puts together a career defining performance.

Prediction: Broncos 24, Steelers 14

Again, enjoy the games, and maybe I’ll come back to predict the Conference Championships next week!