Jan 5, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) is tackled by Green Bay Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush (24) after catching a pass during the fourth quarter of the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. San Francisco won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Bold Predictions for Divisional Playoffs


Eight teams remain with four matchups set for the divisional NFL playoffs.  Here is a bold prediction for each contest.

New Orleans will beat the Seattle Seahawks with defense and power running

Rest assured I’m prepared for the firestorm sure to come from Seattle Seahawks fans for making such an audacious prediction.  So here it goes.  The last time the New Orleans Saints went into Seattle they tried to play their typical game, riding the hand of Drew Brees.  It failed miserably.  The Seahawks suffocated his receivers and trounced the Saints 34-7.  It’s no surprise both Seattle’s fans and players are extremely confident the same result will come about when the two teams lock up again.  However, things have changes since that last meeting.  Sean Payton clearly saw the problems and has enacted some adjustments.  During that last outing the Saints managed a pitiful 44 yards rushing.  Since then they’ve made a bigger commitment to the ground game and it’s begun to bear fruit.  Against Philadelphia they piled up 185 yards and a touchdown.  This helped them control time of possession and in turn allow their defense to hold the highest scoring offense in the league to 24 points.  If they play the same, physical style in Seattle and stick to it, the Seahawks could and I believe will eventually break.

Peyton Manning will use Bengals lesson to top San Diego Chargers

Everybody expects the same thing.  The Denver Broncos went 13-3 and have their best shot at a Super Bowl to date because of the right arm of Peyton Manning.  The most touchdown passes and yards in a single season in NFL history.  Why would Denver not want to throw the ball, especially against a San Diego Chargers pass defense that finished the regular season 29th?  For the same simple reason that generals don’t launch front assaults even though they know they can:  because the opponent knows it’s coming.  If Manning is a film junkie as everyone keeps hearing, he will see that Cincinnati averaged 4.7 yards per carry against the Chargers defense but only ran the ball 25 times.  Instead Andy Dalton threw it 51 times and ended up with two interceptions and a fumble.  Manning knows what the Chargers will expect, but he also knows he has a very competent ground game of his own led by Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.  Part of winning in the playoffs is catching the other team by surprise.  Dishing out heavy doses of the run despite fielding a record-breaking passing attack would qualify.

Michael Crabtree will make the catch that will beat the Carolina Panthers

Getting back missing pieces for a rematch tend to yield huge results.  The last time the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers met, Colin Kaepernick did not have wide receiver Michael Crabtree on the field.  As a result the Panthers were able to control Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin, thus suffocating the 49ers offense.  They will have a much harder go it this time.  Crabtree looks fully healthy since returning in week 13 and made his presence felt at Lambeau Field a week ago.  It will still be a physical, low-scoring affair between two of the best defenses in the league but when it comes down to that critical moment of the game, the x-factor is typically that one thing the opponent couldn’t game plan for.  In the case of Carolina that is Crabtree, who will make a huge catch in the waning moments to set his team up for the win.

Andrew Luck will use Donald Brown and Trent Richardson to topple Patriots

This is probably the most exciting matchup of the divisional playoffs.  The old master Tom Brady and his Patriots host the young gun and comeback kid Andrew Luck and the Colts.  The second-year quarterback certainly will have vivid memories of Foxborough.  The last time he paid a visit New England intercepted him three times and ended up demolishing Indianapolis 59-24.  It’s clear that the Pats will do everything in their power to make sure that happens again, which is why Luck must resist the urge to throw the ball.  Bill Belichick will be hoping and game planning for that.  Instead Luck must play the percentages and the chess match.  The Patriots can mask many things but not the 30th ranked run defense.  As important as Luck is to winning, it may be the dual backfield of Donald Brown and Trent Richardson who actually decide the outcome.

Tags: Andrew Luck Michael Crabtree NFL Peyton Manning Seattle Seahawks

  • Lamont Brown

    You just want to stir up some traffic for your horrible articles. There is no way the Hawks are going to lose this game. People are supposed to believe the Aint’s are going to out physical the most physical team in the NFL? Hell no! They barely beat the worst defense of any playoff team and they now have to prepare for P. Harvin… Stop the disrespect. The saints are going to get stomped again, but worse this time. Bill Parcells said you are what your record says you are and the saints are a BAD road team period, and a win over a weak, young Philly team is not going to change that.

    • Erik Lambert

      That’s good, Lamont. Keep thumping your chest. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this league it’s that the worst thing you can do is a disrespect a team. Should the Seahawks win? Absolutely. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee. The playoffs are a different dog.

      • hawkman54

        Who guarenteed anything, BUT YOU ! it is lame to give them the favorite side of this when HISTORY tells you that a D that gets BETTER as the year goes along always plays well in the playoffs – HISTORY !

        • Erik Lambert

          Settle down, hawkman. These are predictions, not guarantees. It’s a stated opinion, not fact. Just because I’m not jumping on the Seattle bandwagon doesn’t mean they won’t win. I merely pointed out some observations and made a judgment call based on them. Sue me.

  • mike chamberlain

    I don’t think there will be a firestorm. People understand that you’re trying to make a name for yourself and in order to do so you need to say outlandish things to get a reaction.

    • Erik Lambert

      It’s called BOLD predictions for a reason Mike. Don’t automatically assume I’m saying things just for the sake of saying them. New Orleans beating Seattle is not outlandish. Anybody can beat anybody. That is the beauty of this league. I have nothing to prove. These predictions are based on my experience with many years of watching the NFL playoffs and how things tend to work out.

      • mike chamberlain

        of course it Could happen- I think anyone who has ever watched any game ever understands that no matter how great the mismatch the possibility of an upset exists( at least before the start of the game) but to say your prediction isn’t outlandish makes me wonder if you know what outlandish means. When you say” tend to work out” are you suggesting that the 6th seed regularly beats the 1 seed?

        • Erik Lambert

          Lately? Yes. Sixth seeds are 5-2 in their last seven meetings against 1 seeds.

          • mike chamberlain

            interesting( and by that I mean misleading) that you use that sample because if you look at the 16 games played since the playoffs expanded involving 1v 6 teams the 1 seed has won 11 times. So I can then assume that by ” many years of watching NFL playoffs,” you really mean 8 years ?

          • Erik Lambert

            Not at all, Mike. I mean that the NFL is a league of recent trends. People always like to compare teams from the distant past to teams in the present when they don’t realize that things change every year. More than ever the talent gap between the 1 seed and 6 seed are not nearly as pronounced as it was, say, in the mid-90s. We like to call it “parity” and it is as clear as day especially over the past five years. The reason I made the prediction is because playoff pressure changes how a team plays. Will the Seahawks be as aggressive as they were in the regular season when one loss spells the end of their chances? Besides, New Orleans has won a Super Bowl with Sean Payton and Drew Brees. Automatically counting them out because they’re a 6 seed is a mistake.

          • mike chamberlain

            Thanks for your replies Eric, tell ya what- lets leave it at this.
            You call your pick bold- I call it bombastic.
            Cheers !

          • Erik Lambert

            Hope I didn’t hurt your feelings by making you think I insulted your team, Mike. Feel free to come back and chat with me anytime. And for the record it’s Erik.

          • mike chamberlain

            Thanks Eric,
            My feelings were in no way hurt whatsoever( see my first post)
            I enjoyed the conversation and thanks, I will be back.

          • Erik Lambert

            Looking forward to it!

      • hawkman54

        How many years? I have been a student of the NFL since 1966 and say your nuts- Will it be a better game , you bet will NO win the odds are almsot 5% or less- Other than two games this year that Seattle got away from fundementally sound D run play they would have been Number 4 against the run along with number 1 in every other category- It is simply absurd to give NO the nod 1 granted anything is possible But it is HIGHLY unlikely ! I say the Panthers have a better shot then NO !!!!!

        • Erik Lambert

          No. The best team to stop Seattle is San Francisco because they’re the only one of the three teams remaining who beat the Seahawks this season. Don’t discount New Orleans though. They have a good defense, a great coaching staff and Drew Brees. Saying they have a 5% chance to win is just plain wrong.

          • hawkman54

            Point is , you pick NO just to start stuff- Has to be , when all info and LOGIC is pulled in they have a small chance but Seattle has to be the overwhelming favorite to win. They have By far the better D and special teams and enough Offense to get it done .

          • Erik Lambert

            Logic? Since when has applying logic worked in this league lately? Did anybody in their right mind expect the Ravens to make the run last year? What about a 9-7 Giants team the year before? Logic has a limited place in the NFL because, unlike the NBA or MLB the more talented team doesn’t have a seven-game series to make corrections. One or two miscues can end a season and the Seahawks were not above making them. They went 13-3 but I would wager if not for a few lucky breaks they easily could’ve gone 11-5. Overwhelming favorite on paper doesn’t mean as much as it used to.

          • mike chamberlain

            GRRR- just when I thought I was clear of this conversation, you pulled me back in ( Damn you, Eric Lambert !)
            Just as the Seahawks did get some good breaks that made their path to some victories easier, they likewise had some bad breaks in games they lost so they also could have just as easily ended up at 15-1( all losses were within a touchdown)

          • Erik Lambert

            Such is the way of the NFL. Everything is decided by inches.

          • hawkman54

            OK what I mean by logic is football acumen, OK- You look at NO last week and who they played against – especially the D for that team. Philly’s D doesn’t hold a candle to Seatlle’s . Then look at the offense’s – sure Shady was great “But slight” and their headcase WR is just that, one guy – Russell is better overall than Foles in my opinion and if their D could have played Ok they would have won. FOLLOW !

  • Dalton Newell

    Broncos went 13-3, not 14-2.

  • RegisHawk

    While I agree that Peyton/Brees & Co cannot attempt the same failed scheme they used last time, it’s doubtful that the results they got with the change-up employed in Philly will be repeated in Seattle. The Eagles do not have the defense that the Seahawks do. Pointing out the success the Saints had in the Wild Card as the reason for continued success is specious reasoning, whether you consider the prediction derived to be bold or not.

  • hawkman54

    So NFL Mocks must stand for mocking the NFL – logically it fits with your thinking !

  • Scott

    Trent Richardson? Well then I can discount the loss that you predict for the Hawks too then.

  • RegisHawk

    So, I guess that didn’t quite work out the way you expected…

    • Erik Lambert

      Neither did the constant chest thumping that the Seahawks would blow away the Saints, Regis. Don’t get cocky just yet.