By Dave Petrishen and Scott Taylor
The Seattle Seahawks are all about defense and a running game. The Denver Broncos combine an improving defense with the brilliance of Peyton Manning. For Green Bay it’s all about Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews and for the New England Patriots it’s Tom Brady and a myriad of fearsome offensive weapons.
It’s the second round of the National Football League playoffs and by this stage of the season, if the remaining teams can make the best possible use of their strengths, they should find themselves playing next week.
However, while we can talk all day about each team’s strengths and weaknesses, here are the three things that will make the biggest difference in all four games this weekend: (1) special teams, (2) field position and (3) turnovers. There are eight teams left, all of them are pretty good and the teams that protect the football on the shortest field will win. Guaranteed.
Last week the Doc was 3-1 (170-90) straight up and 2-2 (133-127) against the spread while The Coach was 3-1 (173-87) straight up and 2-2 against (137-123) against the spread.
This week, The Doc writes our reasoned approach to each game while The Coach rolls his eyes and takes verbal shots at the officials. Let’s take a close look at Division Championship Weekend:
Baltimore Ravens (11-6) at Denver Broncos (13-3) Line: Broncos by 9.5
The emotional impact of Ray Lewis returning for the Ravens will wear off on the long flight to Denver where Peyton Manning is rested and ready. Manning has always played well against the Ravens, and with Baltimore’s pass defense sorely lacking, look for the soon to be named 2012 MVP to run up the score. The Coach says: “Did you see that helmet that Ray Lewis wore last week? Hope he can breathe in altitude in that thing.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
Green Bay Packers (12-5) at San Francisco (11-4-1) Line: 49ers by 3
The playoffs are all about great quarterbacks. One team has one, the other doesn’t. The 49ers early season win against the Packers at Lambeau means nothing. The Coach says: “In September, I picked Green Bay and Denver in the Super Bowl. I’m not quitting on the Packers now.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PACKERS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN.
Seattle Seahawks (12-5) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3) Line: Falcons by 2.5
The Seahawks played well on the road last week to shake off their “can’t win away from home” rap, but they played against a team with an immobile QB. Matt Ryan is anything but. The Falcons will get their first playoff win in a long time. The Coach says: “Atlanta is not Washington.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
Houston Texans (13-4) at New England Patriots (12-4) Line: Patriots by 9.5
The Texans were only able to score 19 points last week against the Bengals. That won’t cut it here. The Texans pass defense struggles against average QBs and Mr. Brady is not average. With a win, he passes his idol, Joe Montana for most career playoff wins. He also might throw more TD tosses Sunday than the four he got the last time these two teams met. The Coach says: “After New England and Denver win, will we see the ‘real’ Super Bowl next week?”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.