Baltimore @ Denver
Peyton Manning is 0-3 in games where the temperature has been 25 degrees or below. Here is the better stat, Manning is 1-3 in the divisional round after a bye. That is the real stat. For one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the NFL, this is a pretty pedestrian record for one of the greats. To me, this game will come down to Manning’s new weapons and how they react to the Playoff pressure. Last year the Broncos did get in, but they were more of a team working on borrowed time. This year, the Broncos are a bunch of marked men. There is a difference when you are hunting then when you are the hunted. Peyton Manning will have to get his teammates to play loose and play free of pressure. Manning always brings up the preparation and how the preparation is the key to seeing nuances and playing with freedom. Broncos fans hope those lessons have been seared into everyone on the Broncos.
Baltimore is continuing their playoff ride or last ride with ILB Ray Lewis. With 13 tackles and the emotional lift that the unquestioned leader gave the Ravens last week against Indianapolis Colts. The Ravens know that the task ahead is much larger this week because they have their own dubious numbers, 2-9 vs. Peyton Manning and 0-9 in their last 9. So the Ravens definitely need to bring something to the table that they have not done. What the Ravens can grasp onto is that this is not Manning’s crew that he has had in the past. The Ravens must find a weak link in the Broncos offense. Whether its RB Knowshon Moreno or the young WRs Eric Decker or Demaryius Thomas. If there is one guy to find the weak link and exploit it, that guy is Ray Lewis.
Prediction, 1st off the 9.5 spread that the Broncos are favored by I can not see them covering at all. So if there is money involved take the Ravens. As far as who will win the game, the keys are holding the Broncos in the “red zone” to field goals. You can’t allow Peyton to carve you up. The Ravens have to run the football to slow down the pass rush that the Broncos possess. Ravens win in a close game. This comes down to that the Broncos not believing in the weapons that Manning has. I think the 13-3 record definitely had a lot to do with Peyton Manning but to win in the playoffs it is about the pieces that surround Peyton. Ravens 23 Broncos 19
Green Bay @ San Francisco
Do the Packers have enough on defense to win? We know about Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and the offense is great but it will fall on the defense and can they do enough to stop the run and the 49ers offense. The play making ability of LB Clay Matthews is only going to work if the defensive line is able to occupy the offensive line of the 49ers. So DT B.J. Raji is going to be crucial. Raji being disruptive will be key to the Packers walking out of San Francisco with a victory.
The 49ers need the experiment to come through in a big way. 49er QB Colin Kaepernick must play well for the 49ers to win. The 49ers can’t score under 20 and win. So, with that being the case Kaepernick must prove his coach right. 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh saw something in Kaepernick and when he gave the starting QB position to Kaepernick after Alex Smith was hurt but was completing 70% of his passes and had the team on its way to the playoffs. Harbaugh claims that Kaepernick will give the 49ers the better chance to advance in the playoffs. With the stage set it is up to the 49ers to make plays and enough plays to beat a very good Green Bay Packer team.
Prediction, I am going with the better QB. I do not think that Colin Kaepernick can make enough plays to beat the Packers. It does not get more simple. Packers 28 49ers 20
What would most shock you?