For the AFC teams there’s no place like home, for the NFC its road warrior time.
The first game on Saturday finds the Baltimore Ravens in the Mile High City of Denver, to take on QB Peyton Manning and the Broncos defense. The Denver defense racked up 52 sacks in 2012, and as much talk as there has been this week about the return of LB Ray Lewis to the Ravens, people seem to forget the NFL’s #2 overall defense belongs to the Broncos. If you had to choose a QB for your playoff team, would you go with Manning or Flacco? While Baltimore may feel like they have some swagger back, it probably won’t be enough to knock of a hot and focused Broncos team playing at home.
The second Saturday game gives us Green Bay at San Francisco. Same question about the QB position. Would you rather have Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, or playoff newcomer Colin Kaepernick? Defensively, the 49ers have a clear edge. They finished third in total defense, fourth in passing yards allowed per game and fourth in rushing yards allowed per game. Offensively, the 49ers were fourth in rushing yards per game, and the Packers came in 20th. Simply put, if the 49ers can chew up the clock with a running attack and limit the opportunities for Rodgers and the Green Bay offense.
On Sunday, the Houston Texans once again find themselves on the road against the Patriots. Houston stumbled a little coming down the stretch and even though they eliminated the Bengals last week in the wild card round, it didn’t look impressive at all, it looked flat. In the end, as long as the Patriots are at home and have Tom Brady at QB, we may see a closer game this time around, but the result should be the same.
Finally, here is the upset special. The Seattle Seahawks are in Atlanta taking on the Falcons. The difference in this game will be the Seattle defense. Their secondary is big and physical and can match up with any WR set in the NFL. The pass rush is solid, and if Seattle can establish the running game like they have been as of late, they have more than a punchers chance to win the game. The QB position is always pivotal and while Matt Ryan of Atlanta is impressive, especially at home, rookie QB Russell Wilson of the Seahawks has one more playoff victory under his belt than Ryan does. Wilson never wilted against the Redskins last week, even when they were behind early in the game 14-0. Wilson maintained his composure and poise, and the experience he gained last week should pay off this week.