NFL Playoffs: Saturday Divisional Round Picks
The Saints and Seahawks will meet Saturday afternoon in a rematch of their Monday night showdown on Dec. 2nd, which saw the Saints fall 34-7 at the hands of a raucous Seattle defense and home crowd. New Orleans, which is coming off its first road playoff win in team history, used Mark Ingram and a consistent running game to offset the Eagles' attacking defense and open up plays down the field for Drew Brees in their Wild Card victory. Against the Seahawks however, gaining ground in the trenches will prove a tougher task, especially when Seattle's 1st-ranked defense is buoyed by the 12th Man's deafening support. When New Orleans tries to pass, keep an eye on Terron Armstead, the Saints' rookie left tackle who will be expected to handle the likes of Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, and Cliff Avril.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, will use Marshawn Lynch to go "BeastMode" against the Saints' defense. In their last meeting, Lynch was contained to under 50 yards rushing, but only because Russell Wilson powered the offense with both his arms and legs. Wilson completed 22/30 passes for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns, a stat line helped by the fact that New Orleans stacked the box in an effort to contain Seattle's powerful running game. Wilson's success came on play action passes, where Zach Miller played a prominent role in exploiting secondary match ups. Expect Seattle to pound the ball more and take advantage of a Saints defense playing back-to-back road games.
Seahawks 24, Saints 7
Colts at Patriots (Saturday, 8:15 PM EST)
The NFL must be cheering right now, as a classic rivalry is being renewed before our eyes. Andrew Luck, taking over the reigns of Peyton Manning's Colts, looks to overthrow the aging veteran and take over Tom Brady's mantle as king of the playoffs. Expect the game to be a high-scoring affair, as both defenses rank in the lower half of the league and both offenses have enough firepower to put five touchdowns on the board. The Colts, under Pep Hamilton's direction, have found a powerful running game with Donald Brown and Trent Richardson. With the loss of Wilfork and Brandon Spikes to injuries, the Pats may be vulnerable on the ground. Belichick's biggest concern may be T.Y. Hilton, who burned the Chiefs' defense last week in the Wild Card round. Expect the Pats to make adjustments and put pressure on Luck.
Patriots 31, Colts 24