The other day I was roaming around and reading up on the match-ups for the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. In my internet travels I came across an article on NFL.com that featured picks by 18 “analysts” from their site and NFL network. Some of the names I recognize but others are a complete mystery to me and that got me wondering what exactly makes them “experts.” Does the fact that Willie McGinest or Heath Evans played football make them any more (or less) qualified to pick games in 2013 than anyone else?
Well, feeling all high and mighty* I decided that we here on KC Kingdom were not about to be outdone. In fact, because we love you, the reader, so much each of us has decided to offer up some brief reasoning in justification of our selections.
*I type this with a smile on my face as I’ve come across a very small group of people who have a less impressive resume than yours truly when it comes to picking NFL games.
Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos – Saturday 3:30 CT
NFL.com Analysts: 18/18 on the Broncos
KC Kingdom: 5/6 on the Broncos
Michael: Denver over Baltimore – The Ravens hit the road, where they were a .500 team in the regular season, and enter Mile High, a tough place to play as it is (Denver was 7-1 at home), but even tougher with Peyton Manning at the helm. Baltimore’s been inconsistent on offense and even with Ray Lewis returning, these aren’t the same Ravens defenders who carried Trent Dilfer to a Super Bowl win. Denver should win easily with Manning leading the way.
Ryan: Peyton Manning is hungry and playing excellent ball. I find it interesting that he is using a glove on his throwing hand for the first time in his career and he looks like the Manning of old. I just don’t think Baltimore has enough in the tank to handle the young Denver receivers.
Chip: Denver is just too good, and playing too well.
Clayton: It’s hard to go against Peyton Manning but Baltimore’s defense will rally around the emotions of Ray Lewis’s retirement and come out on top.
Joel: Denver over Baltimore – The energy generated last week by Ray Lewis’ last home game won’t be there.
Wally: Man, I love to buck consensus but in this case I have to go with the flow. Too much has been made of Peyton Manning’s record in outdoor playoff games when he was with Indianapolis. Now he’s the QB and leader of the outdoor team at home. I think Ray Lewis inspired the Ravens last week against an overrated Colts team but this week they run into a buzzsaw. I’m picking the Broncos and I don’t expect it to be remotely close.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers – Saturday 7:00 CT
NFL.com Analysts: 11 on the Packers / 7 on the 49ers
KC Kingdom: 3 on the Packers / 3 on the 49ers
Michael: San Francisco over Green Bay – Both teams have come a long way since their Week 1 matchup. The 49ers are a team classically built for the playoffs. They’re tough on defense and they run the ball well. The difference between the first matchup and this one is Colin Kaepernick. If he plays like it’s his first playoff game, he may make mistakes, but if he plays with the poise he’s shown in most of his games, I expect San Francisco to pull it off. This should be close as well – Green Bay’s still got lots of weapons and seem to have found a running back with DuJuan Harris coming out of nowhere. If Aaron Rodgers gets protection and can make plays, it gives Green Bay a big advantage, but the Packers aren’t the healthiest team and have to keep the engine running all day with the ball.
Ryan: I’ll take the 49ers over the Packers in this one. The 49ers defense hasn’t played up to it’s potential most of the season but I think they turn it on for playoff time. Kaepernick has impressed me and I think Frank Gore has a dominating game.
Chip: SF limped into playoffs, and just doesn’t have the offensive weapons, plus an inexperienced QB is not going to beat Aaron Rodgers.
Clayton: Two words – Aaron Rodgers.
Joel: Green Bay over San Francisco – Toughest pick of the week for me. When it’s even, and in the playoffs, take the better QB. That means you go with the “Discount Double Check” on the road! (Editor’s note: There is a good chance Joel will be fined for referencing those awful insurance commercials)
Wally: The way the media has portrayed it, you’d think Green Bay had fixed all their problems defending the run after beating the Vikings last weekend. Yes, they held Adrian Peterson to “only” 99 yards but let’s be real. The Packers didn’t have to respect the pass AT ALL with Joe Webb under center for Minnesota. Had Christian Ponder played (and I don’t think he’s all that) Adrian would have run all over that defense (again) as there would have been at least the faint threat of a pass. Enter the 49ers who are at home, are a more complete team and they just happen to know how to run the ball. San Francisco is being disrespected but I think they win fairly easily.
Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons – Sunday 12:00 CT
NFL.com Analysts: 11 on the Seahawks / 7 on the Falcons
KC Kingdom: 3 on the Seahawks / 3 on the Falcons
Michael: Seattle over Atlanta – The Seahawks secondary matches up well with Atlanta’s receivers and I’m not sure that Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez can make up the production. Though not flashy, Seattle has depth on the
offensive side and the Beast, Marshawn Lynch. This will be a close one but even though Matt Ryan and company finished as the top seed in the NFC, Seattle’s playing better and are very dangerous.
Ryan: I think this is the toughest one for me this weekend. I am going to take the Seahawks only because I think Lynch has a huge game. This will be the closest game this week and by far the one I’m looking forward to the most!
Chip: In my opinion this will be the best and most competitive game of the week. Seattle is riding high, but with a rookie QB. Atlanta’s defense is amazing when they’re on and it’s my opinion that Atlanta will come back to the form we saw earlier in the year and take Seattle out.
Clayton: Matty Ice and the Falcons are near unbeatable at home. Tony G will play a major role in this game.
Joel: Atlanta over Seattle – The Seahawks took some hits on the defensive side that will hurt. Seattle has been hot and I am not sold on the overall talent of the Falcons, but I want this for Tony Gonzalez and would love to see him play in the Super Bowl.
Wally: Like the 49ers, I think the Falcons are getting overlooked and disrespected here, but anyone who has watched the Seahawks play knows they are legit. Matt Ryan has a lot of weapons but the Seahawks have the best secondary that I’ve seen all season. The storybook season for Russell Wilson and Seattle continues as they win a close one on the road.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots – Sunday 3:30 CT
NFL.com Analysts: 18/18 on the Patriots
KC Kingdom: 5/6 on the Patriots
Michael: New England over Houston – A dismal week 17 win started to show some cracks in Houston’s armor. A less-than-impressive win over the Bengals didn’t help ease concerns over their viability. Now they have to go to Gillette and face Tom Brady. In the end, New England has far too many weapons. It may not be a repeat of the 42-14 drubbing the Patriots put on the Texans in Week 14, but it might not be that much closer.
Ryan: I think that New England takes this one over Houston. I haven’t been nearly as impressed with the Texans recently as I was earlier in the year. Even if they do pull out a great game, I don’t think that they can overcome Tom Brady. Not many can when it comes to the playoffs!
Chip: Houston limped into the playoffs and barely beat Cincinnati, they won’t beat the Patriots.
Clayton: JJ Watt is a monster but Tom Brady is Tom Brady.
Joel: New England over Houston. I actually think Houston is the better all around team but they don’t have Tom Brady and the Texans are very inconsistent.
Wally: There’s something to be said for a team having a chip on their shoulder and that is exactly what the Texans will be playing with on Sunday afternoon. The Patriots humiliated Houston in a week 14 blowout but that may as well have been last season as far as this game is concerned. It’s a clean slate and I have to think the Texans have picked up a few things since then and will be highly motivated to shock the world. In the end I think this game comes down to a field goal and while I’m unsure who will come out on top I’ll go with the underdogs and take the Texans.
There you have it, our picks and some brief reasoning behind them. Right or wrong I hope we get some great games out of this round as last weekend was more than a little underwhelming.
Agree or disagree, let us know who you’ve got!