As is usually the case, the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs is providing four tasty match-ups. The New Orleans offense will face off versus Seattle's 12th Man. Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady could be a passing of the torch moment. Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton will be looking to outdo each other. Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers will again meet up in the postseason.
2014 NFL Divisional Playoff picks: New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
New Orleans has been my Super Bowl pick since even before the first day of the regular season. Drew Brees is, last I checked, still Drew Brees. The Saints were humiliated in Seattle back at the start of December, and they'll be looking for revenge.
I'm not convinced that any of that really matters here.
I went back and forth and back and forth on this one, so much so that I deleted multiple paragraphs and my pick. Seattle is deeper, and I believe that the hosts will field the better team. Perhaps I'm blinded by my preseason prediction, but I saw something in the Saints when they went to Philadelphia and beat the Eagles last weekend.
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton is at his best right now, and he has done all he can to prepare his troops for battle. I believe that, deep down, Payton, Brees and company remain bitter over all that occurred in 2012. They take it out on Seattle.
2014 NFL Divisional Playoff picks: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck put on one incredible show at home against the Kansas City Chiefs on Wild Card Weekend. Those who have been focusing on how poorly KC played in the final 27 minutes of that contest are ignoring the fact that this particular roster of the Chiefs hasn't been in prime time before.
You can't say that about Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Colts have become a sexier pick as the week has gone on. I just can't see it. Luck is not yet Aaron Rodgers, in that the two-year pro isn't on the cusp of leading a team with most of its offensive firepower on IR to a conference championship game and then a Super Bowl. New England does what KC couldn't for four quarters, exploit the holes in the Indy offense, and Tom Brady is his stellar self in a winning effort.
2014 NFL Divisional Playoff picks: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
First off: Can we all please put the Ric Flair ridiculousness out of the public conversation regarding this game? I highly doubt that Cam Newton is ripping up pictures of the Nature Boy before he goes to bed on Saturday evening.
San Francisco has been the favorite since the Niners defeated the Green Bay Packers at frozen Lambeau Field last Sunday. Don't think that is something that has been lost on the Panthers. Carolina's defense is for real, and I've been a big fan of the way Newton has played over the past four months.
Oh yeah. The Panthers have won 11 of their last 12.
2014 NFL Divisional Playoff picks: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
This game has been another case of a road team picking up steam among some NFL analysts. There are those out there enamored with the fact that San Diego went into Denver and won back on November 10.
I'm not in that group.
So what's the deal with Ken Whisenhunt, anyway? The offensive coordinator of the Chargers wants to be a head coach, so much so that he's been taking interviews as his team prepares to face off with the Broncos. He's even meeting with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday.
Peyton Manning, on the other hand, isn't thinking about anything other than winning. Manning delivered a clear message back in December about his ability to play in cold weather. The weather may not even be a concern this Sunday. Either way, I think the Philip Rivers redemption tour ends here.