Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/10/12
The NFL Playoffs kicked off this past weekend with the 3-6 seeds from both the NFC and AFC Conferences playing in the Wild Card Round.

The weekend saw T.J. Yates and the Houston Texans win their first ever Playoff game, the New York Giants walked through the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints fed off of two Matthew Stafford interceptions and the Denver Broncos shocked the Pittsburgh Steelers in OT.

Looking back on the weekend, all of the teams playing at home picked up the win. There’s no doubt that home-field advantage is huge, especially come playoff time, and that was shown right away in this postseason.

With that said, I’m here to tell you that it will not matter next week. Here are my predictions for the Divisional Round.

New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have had a great year, led by new head coach Jim Harbaugh and Pro Bowl LB Patrick Willis, finishing 13-3, equal to the Saints and good enough for the No. 2 seed and a bye in the NFC. On the other side of the ball, New Orleans heads to Candlestick coming off a convincing win over the Detroit Lions.

In a game that features a great offense against a great defense, this is a very intriguing match-up and I believe that the offense will prevail as the Saints start the weekend with a win, 30-20.


Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots
Sound familiar? These two teams faced off in Week 15, in a game that didn’t exactly live up to the hype. The Broncos came out strong, but finished slow in a 41-23 loss. Now we’ve hit the Playoffs, and they’re set to face off again; Denver at 9-8, New England at 13-3.

That loss was the start of a three-game losing streak for the Broncos, as they barely made the Playoffs. Denver will be looking for revenge in this game and vice president John Elway
will be looking for QB Tim Tebow to “pull the trigger” as he did in the Wild Card Round, throwing for 316 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Despite getting a bye, the New England Patriots still made headlines as they signed Rams offensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels as an offensive “assistant”. Whether this provides New England with enough “information” to win or not, well, that remains to be seen, but I believe that the Pats will get caught up in McDaniels' presence and fall victim to Tebow Time. Denver 30 New England 27


Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens
The Houston Texans picked up their first ever Playoff win this past Sunday over Rookie of the Year candidate Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals. It was a convincing win that advanced them in to the Divisional Round this week in Baltimore.

The Ravens had a bye last week after finishing 12-4 in the regular season including a win over the Texans, who then had Matt Schaub at the helm, but were missing Andre Johnson.

Baltimore seems to have everything going for them in this contest; at home in January, great defense against a rookie quarterback, the list goes on. With that said, I think Ray Rice has a big TD run, but the rest of the offense stalls as Houston wins, 16-10.  


New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
The final game of the weekend sees the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers looking to defend their title, starting with the New York Giants. These two teams also faced off earlier in the year in New York with the Packers kicking a FG late in the 4th quarter to win, 38-35.

I believe the result will be different this time around. Despite playing at Lambeau against the best QB in the game, the Giants will pull off the upset, 28-24.


I’m going with the underdogs this week and believe that the Conference Championships will feature 4 teams that did not benefit from the bye week.  
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