Ron Glover’s NFL Divisional Round Picks: Seattle Seahawks are looking to bring the wood to the Atlanta Falcons
We’ll know tonight if Jim Harbaugh’s decision to go with Colin Kaepernick was worth it.
Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis will meet for the last time in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs this weekend. The Broncos are the top seed in the conference and are facing the Ravens for the second time in a month. The Ravens won their emotional Wild Card matchup against the Indianapolis Colts last week.
The Seattle Seahawks dropped the hammer on the Washington Redskins glass slipper last week. The Atlanta Falcons are 13-3, but everyone is waiting to see if this talented team can get one in the postseason win column.
The Green Bay Packers head to San Francisco to take on the rested 49ers and the Houston Texans go on the road to face the New England Patriots.
Saturday January 12, 2013:
Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at Denver Broncos (13-3) – When Ray Rice caught a case of slippery hands against the Colts, Joe Flacco played pitch and catch with Anquan Boldin in a huge third quarter. With Torrey Smith being the Ravens deep threat, it looked as if Boldin had become a forgotten man. Flacco was successful when he was able to mix up his targets. It would be nice to see this same kind of offensive flow against the Broncos. Don’t expect Rice to be as careless with the ball this week — knowing he may be in for a heavy workload. Bernard Pierce was great when Rice struggled. The rookie as been a nice change of pace in the offense. The Ravens offensive line has to protect the edges to keep Flacco from getting happy feet and rushing into mistakes. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are a big reason this team has won eleven games in a row.
The Broncos ran the ball 40+ times in their first meeting against the Ravens — who were without Ray Lewis. Peyton Manning was able to beat the Ravens secondary deep despite passing for 204 yards. Knowshon Moreno is the Broncos featured back. The weather could be a neutralizing factor in the game. Manning is wearing a glove on his throwing hand. This is something to consider since he has had his struggles in the cold. I believe the Ravens are going to disguise their packages often to throw Manning off. But they must be aware of the quick reads and even some no-huddle.
Prediction: This game will get ugly in a hurry if the Broncos can pressure Flacco into miscues. The Ravens defense is at full strength and it could turns the tide. Joe Flacco gained confidence last week, that’s always a good sign.
Ravens 19 – Broncos 17
Green Bay Packers (11-5) at San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) - Aaron Rodgers still feels the starting quarterback job of the San Francisco 49ers should be his. The Packers rebounded from a shaky start to win the NFC North. Rodgers is warming up at the right time, although this hasn’t been one of his banner seasons. The Packers have a backfield by committee who averaged 30 carries a game in the closing weeks of the season. The offense has its full complement of receivers — which suits Rodgers just fine. The Packers secondary is back to full strengthwith the return of Charles Woodson. The Niners receivers are an under utilized unit. Game like this are the reason Randy Moss was brought in. Chances are they’ll let Frank Gore and Vernon Davis set the tone and pick their spots in the passing game.
The Niners aggressive secondary had great success in the Week 1 win over the Packers. If Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith can get after Rodgers early it plays into their hands.
Prediction: Colin Kaepernick is the key to San Francisco’s success the Packers faced Alex Smith in their first meeting. The Packers need to be aware of Kaepernick’s arm strength and his deep threat receivers, including Randy Moss. I have a feeling the Packers are not taking Kaepernick seriously. I think the Pack is in for one helluva scare.
Packers 27 – 49ers 23
Sunday January 13, 2o13:
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3) – The Atlanta Falcons are dealing with pressure on all sides. A fast start against the aggressive Seattle Seahawks defense could go a long way. The Seahawks are expecting the Falcons to come out a little chippy and any slip up might work against the Falcons psychologically. Michael Turner should be in line for around 25 touches today. The Seahawks are going to miss the pass rush of Chris Clemons (knee). The Seattle secondary is capable of giving Roddy White and Julio Jones problems with they’re physical style. Rookie stud Bobby Wagner faces a tough challenge in the great Tony Gonzalez.
Russell Wilson should have some success against the Falcons defense, John Abraham is still the Falcons man at defensive end. The Seahawks willingness to pound the ball keeps Matt Ryan and the offense on the sidelines and wears down the defense. Marshawn Lynch is a little nicked up, but nothing too serious to keep him off the field. Lynch’s will to stay up after the first and second hit are enough to break the will of any defense. Receivers Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate will hold their own against a good Atlanta secondary.
Prediction: Seattle has traveled cross-country for this game which may take its toll until late, if at all. If the Seahawks can survive Atlanta’s first few offensive series, they’ll be in good shape. Seattle is playing with house money, so expect them to let it all hang out.
Seahawks 26 – Falcons 21
Houston Texans (12-4) at New England Patriots (12-4) – Everyone is looking at this game as the death and burial of the Houston Texans. The Texans played terrible ball in December — losing three of four, including a loss to the Patriots. Arian Foster’s carries were cut down and the offense was stuck in neutral. The Patriots were just getting warmed up in the final month and were able to beat out Houston for the all-important bye.
The Texans need to get back to being themselves again. Start by giving the ball to Arian Foster in bunches. If there’s any hope for a victory in Foxboro, it lies Houston’s ability to control the ball and the clock. If Foster is able to get off against New England’s front seven, they’ll be in good shape. Matt Schaub can’t rush things, he has to develop an early rhythm with his receivers.
Vince Wilfork can singlehandedly wreck anything Schaub and the offense is trying to do. The Texans offense can’t afford to go through lulls without getting the ball to Andre Johnson. Owen Daniels needs to be involved heavily this week in order for Schaub to take his shots downfield. The Patriots secondary is young and more talented than they’re given credit for. Schaub needs to have Patriots corner Aqib Talib accounted for prior to each snap.
Tom Brady is tired of hearing about the Patriots playoffs struggles since winning Super Bowl after the 2004 season. The Patriots are running the ball very well which makes Brady more dangerous. The Patriots receivers are in for a huge day if the Patriots are successful running the ball.
Prediction: Houston must have success running the ball early. If so, they’ll be able to do other things offensively. I don’t think the Texans defense matches up well with the Patriots offense. The Patriots and rested and focused.
Patriots 33 – Texans 24
Last week: 3-1
2012 Playoffs 3-1