AFC North

AFC North Divisional Round Predictions

AFC North Divisional Round Predictions
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Lets hope these hobbling stars can stay on the field for 60 minutes and add to their legacy
 
 
 
Welcome to the AFC North predictions page!
 
This postseason, our AFC North feature writers will be listing their picks for every playoff game and be forced to explain why they voted as they did. Keep in mind that these picks are for entertainment purposes only, and in no way should be used to influence gambling or illegal activity, unless you’re smart enough to recognize that we know more than you because we publish things.
 
NFL Division round match-ups:
Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) @ New England Patriots (12-4), Saturday 4:35pm, CBS
Green Bay Packers (11-6) @ Arizona Cardinals (13-3), Saturday 8:15pm, NBC
Seattle Seahawks (11-6) @ Carolina Panthers (15-1), Sunday 1:05pm FOX
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-6) @ Denver Broncos (12-4), Sunday 4:40pm, CBS
 
Steelers/Broncos has to be the game-of-the-week here in the AFC North. If both teams stars were healthy, it would be the #1 game around the nation. Unfortunately they aren’t, at least on the Steelers side. I suspect Peyton Manning has been at least healthy enough to play for a couple of weeks now, but had to wait patiently for Brock Osweiler’s mojo to run out. Other intriguing matchups include Cam and Wilson vs cornerbacks who will tell you how great they are, Belichick vs Reid, and Rogers vs Peters, the cornerback who is simply great and doesn’t need to talk.
 
Last week the AFC North writers went 14-2, the best possible outcome considering just two writers predicted two total upsets. Of course the group needed a record breaking shanked field goal, and record breaking stupidity to keep from going 8-8… just to keep their egos in check. If they wanted to go undefeated, they should simply take the opposite of what Ian Rappaport’s sources tell him.
 
 
On to the games:
 
 
Michael Thompson (record 3-1):
 
Chiefs 21, Patriots 28
Although the Chiefs may be the most complete team remaining in the AFC tournament, their major deficiency is at quarterback and this week, they play the team with arguably the best quarterback in the field.
 
Packers 24, Cardinals 21
The Packers may have gotten their swagger back in the nation’s capital and, despite their strong performance during the regular season, the Cardinals are largely untested playing a battle tested playoff group that was only a drive away from the Super Bowl last year.
 
Seahawks 17, Panthers 21
In order for the Panthers to take that final step to enter the ranks of the league’s elite, they need to banish one more demon and beat the Seahawks in the playoffs in addition to their victory during the regular season. Everything has broken in their favor and they face their nemesis at home. They have the most versatile all-purpose offensive weapon in football in quarterback Cam Newton. I expect a close game, but one that the Panthers will ultimately win.
 
Steelers 16, Broncos 24

This would have been a much tougher game to predict prior to the wild card injuries to Big Ben and Antonio Brown, but with them either out or playing in a diminished capacity, I don’t think they can keep up with the Broncos, even with the questions about venerable quarterback Peyton Manning.
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Paul Johansson (record 3-1):
 
Chiefs 23, Patriots 21
The Chiefs are the better team from top to bottom, and they certainly have the better defense. The biggest factor is that Bill Belichick tirelessly searches for ways to exploit opposition tendencies, as well as NFL rules that have or have not been written yet. When least expected, he will pull something out of his (hat). The best way to counter those trick plays is to pressure Tom Brady quickly and hit him hard. The Chiefs are equipped to make his day miserable at times.
 
Packers 20, Cardinals 34
In the early stages last week the Redskins showed what can happen when Rogers has no time to throw. However the Cardinals already knew that as they took the Packers apart 38-8 in week 16 with 8 sacks and an INT. The Packers have a shot if they rush for 150+ yards, but thats highly unlikely.
 
Seahawks 31, Panthers 34
The Seahawks have struggled for much of the season and are lucky to be playing in this one. However, they can turn on the switch and look like Super Bowl contenders at anytime, especially the more smack talking the opposition gives them. This is a tough one to call, but if Carolina can keep their cool, they should win this one.
 
Steelers 24, Broncos 27
Ben has torn ligaments in his throwing arm, and Peyton normally throws like he has torn ligaments. The difference is Ben can take something to mask the pain. Advantage Steelers. However, Denver’s defense is pretty good and will likely want to prove they can play for 4 quarters instead of 2 as they did against the Steelers late in the regular season. Injured Steelers’ Williams, Brown, and Ben should help their cause, but their D will again struggle as long as Ben stays on the field.
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Jack Crawford (record 4-0):
 
Chiefs 24, Patriots 31
Kansas City’s plodding offensive style finally catches up to them, as they’re just not able to score enough points in enough time against the Patriots’ underrated defense. The Chiefs’ defense will keep this one close, but look for late scoring to be the difference.
 
Packers 17, Cardinals 30
Success against Washington’s lowly defense proves not to be the panacea the Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers hope for, as the well-rested Cardinals again dominate them on their home field. Keep an eye on the Cardinals, as QB Carson Palmer is healthy for a playoff run, which is truly rare.
 
Seahawks 24, Panthers 21
Seattle has accumulated enough experience in myriad playoff conditions to warrant consideration in a very close matchup. Seattle QB Russell Wilson, whose MVP credentials are slightly above those of counterpart Cam Newton, offers a real challenge to the Carolina defense. As is often the case with Seattle in the playoffs, expect a low-scoring, punchy, field goal-driven game.
 
Steelers 17, Broncos 28
Give or take a TD for Pittsburgh, depending on if starting QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown play, but even at full strength, the Steelers will have a difficult time moving the ball against the league’s top defense. For all the naysayers who point to Denver QB Peyton Manning’s playoff record in cold weather, be aware that Manning had little to do with the Broncos’ success this season, and it’s not difficult to see him playing the “game manager” role here to secure the ball and let the defense handle their business.
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Wernike Korsakoff (record 4-0):

 
Chiefs 20, Patriots 24
 
Packers 20, Cardinals 31
 
Seahawks 26, Panthers 30
 
Steelers 23, Broncos 27
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