Predictification - NFL Divisional Round, Including Colts vs. Patriots

Jared Wickerham

Predicting the NFL action before it happens isn't easy - unless you're a Predictificationist like me. Sit back, relax and know that you've come to the right place.

2013 Regular Season: 161-94-1 (63.1%)

2012 Regular Season: 164-91-1* (64.3%)

Last Week: 2-2 (50%%)

All-time Playoff Predictions: 9-5 (64.3%)

All-time Super Bowl Predictions: 1-0 (100%)

All-time Colts Predictions: 25-9 (73.5%)

What. A. Game.

I've been a fan of the Indianapolis Colts my entire life and I can remember very few moments that rivaled what I felt last Saturday night. Maybe the improbable playoff run in 1996, the comeback against Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football, the 'Fourth and Two' game against New England, the AFC Championship comeback or the Super Bowl are in the same conversation - but this game may come in second (only to the AFC Championship).

The atmosphere inside Lucas Oil Stadium was electric all night long - even when the Colts were down 38-10. Colts fans were loud, proud and my ears were literally ringing at the end of the game.

You all experienced it - it was incredible.

So now, thanks to the San Diego Chargers upset over the Cincinnati Bengals, it's on to New England for a match-up against the Patriots - the arch nemesis of Indy football fans for the last decade. It seems like this is the way it's supposed to be, doesn't it? For the Colts to reach the Super Bowl they will have to go through Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and (most likely) Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Can you imagine if Andrew Luck and the Colts are able to do it? Could there be a more incredible jump start to a legacy than that?

Is it possible? Absolutely.

Is it probable? I'm not sure yet... probably not - but that's what makes it fun, isn't it?

Before we get to the games, here are some other fearless predictions, news and notes for the Divisional Playoff Weekend:
  • The play of the game between the Colts and Chiefs was undoubtedly Andrew Luck's diving touchdown after recovering a fumble by Donald Brown. The most overlooked BIG play? Antoine Bethea's tackle on Dwayne Bowe at the two yard line - when it appeared that he would walk in for an easy touchdown. The Colts defense stood their ground and held the Chiefs to a field goal. That tackle saved four points... and maybe the game.
  • Isn't it funny how differently things are perceived based on the surroundings? For example, what if Donald Brown's fumble at the goal line was recovered by Kansas City? Is Donald Brown the goat? Instead everyone is talking about Andrew Luck's incredible play - I haven't heard anyone talking about the fumble... only the recovery. I bet Trent Richardson wishes that was his fumble instead of the one in the first half.
  • If the San Diego Chargers are somehow able to upset the Denver Broncos this weekend and the Colts beat the Patriots, Indianapolis would be the host city for the AFC Championship game. Is it safe to assume that this time the Colts won't need extensions to avoid a local blackout?
  • I heard some sports 'experts' talking today and almost all of them agreed that Marvin Harrison was NOT a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Really? I realize that I'm a homer - but I'd be shocked if he isn't. The receivers he's up against (Tim Brown and Andre Reed) don't hold a candle to Harrison's career.

On to the picks!

Indianapolis Colts (12-5) at New England Patriots (12-4)

Line - Patriots by 7.5

I was a little surprised by the line on this game. The Colts have a lot of momentum heading into this game and the Patriots don't seem to be able to put up points like they once could. Whichever way this game falls, it'll be within a touchdown either way.

One thing that you know about a Bill Belichick coached team is that they will be dedicated to taking away your strengths. What does that mean? It means that T.Y. Hilton will struggle to get off the line of scrimmage and will face constant double-teams. It means that there will be a running back lined up on whatever side of the field Robert Mathis is on to help in pass protection. It means that if the Colts are going to win it'll be because of guys like Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill on offense and Jerrell Freeman and Darius Butler on defense. The Colts have been grooming their offense almost all season for this moment - the chance to run the ball effectively and play keep away from Tom Brady. Trent Richardson and Donald Brown will have to have big games and exploit the hole left by the injured Vince Wilfork.

I like the Colts - I have confidence in them and I think they ride the momentum into Denver next week. It's the way the football gods want it.

COLTS WIN 24-17

New Orleans Saints (12-5) at Seattle Seahawks (13-3)

Line - Seahawks by 8

The Saints got their first road playoff win in franchise history last week - but it doesn't change the facts: They are not a good road team. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are a VERY good home team. I could go into all kinds of reasons why the Seahawks will dismantle the Saints this weekend - but I'll only give you one.

It's just a feeling. The Seahawks are a team of destiny right now and the Saints are simply a necessary hurdle. I'd be shocked if this game is close.

SEAHAWKS WIN 27-17

San Francisco 49ers (13-4) at Carolina Panthers (12-4)

Line - Even

If you've read my stuff for awhile you know that I had little to no faith in Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. If you haven't been reading my stuff, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I have no faith in Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

When I look at the Panthers I don't see the kind of game-changers it's going to take to win this game. Steve Smith is questionable and, at the very least, will be less than 100% for the game. Carolina's defense is very good - but not any better than what they will face against the 49ers.

On the other hand, I see Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis on the offensive side of the ball for the 49ers and I don't see any way that they lose this game.

I'm taking San Francisco.

49ERS WIN 24-17

San Diego Chargers (10-7) at Denver Broncos (13-3)

Line - Broncos by 9.5

Remember all those times Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts into the playoffs looking unstoppable, only to be one-and-done when it really mattered? Remember when Peyton Manning threw crippling interceptions and failed to play his best when the season was on the line?

Forgive me if I'm not bursting in confidence over the Broncos match-up against San Diego on Sunday. I've just seen it too many time - and I don't know that Manning's legacy can afford another one-and-done in the playoffs.

These teams know each other well and it should be a very interesting game. I can't pick against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, though - because as I said earlier.... this is what the football gods want.

BRONCOS WIN 34-24

***

Agree? Disagree? As always, comments are welcome! I will track my picks during the season and brag when I'm right (and pretend I was right when I'm wrong). Pick against me if you dare - remember, I'm a Predictificationist.

Follow me on Twitter at @USAFootballBlog

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