Predicting the divisional round of the NFL playoffs

By Sam Cowan

The debut week for playoff picks on this site did not go very well as I posted a 1-3 record for last week. In my defense, I did not expect road teams to go 4-0 in a playoff week for the first time in NFL history.

Now I have to get back on the horse with another four games on the docket as the one and two seeds enter the fray and the wild-card teams look to continue their unlikely runs in the playoffs.

Without further ado, let’s get to the picks for the divisional round.

Chiefs over Patriots

I struggled with this pick for a long time. The Chiefs absolutely obliterated the Texans Saturday and the game was pretty much over 10 seconds in to the games.

Tom Brady is obviously much better at quarterback than Brian Hoyer, but the Chiefs defense has been playing fantastically over the second-half of the season and will likely be able to force a few turnovers.

The Patriots started off the year 10-0, but struggled down the stretch, losing four of their last six games.

This will be a close game, but I think the Chiefs do just enough to get the win and send the struggling Patriots home.

Cardinals over Packers

When these two teams met in the regular season, it was an ugly 38-8 win for the Cardinals, who were all over Aaron Rodgers during the game.

In this rematch, I see something similar happening including another Cardinals win. The Cardinals might have the best overall team in the NFL and their defense will smother the horrific offensive line of the Packers once again.

The only thing that might derail the Cardinals playoff run is the inevitable Carson Palmer injury. However, that injury hasn’t happened yet which is why I will go with the Cardinals here.

Seahawks over Panthers

The Panthers had a realistic chance at a perfect regular season before a shocking Week 16 loss to the rival Falcons. The Panthers were still able to finish with the best record in the NFL this season which may make it seem odd that I have them losing their first playoff game.

This game was incredibly close in the regular season with the Panthers winning 27-23 in Seattle on a Cam Newton touchdown pass in the final minute. I expect a similarly close result, but I think the Seahawks come out on top this time.

I think the Seahawks offense will continue to play hot and get some touchdowns on the board to get the team out to an early lead.

From there, the Seahawks defense will take over and I think Cam Newton’s offensive luck will finally run out. There is only so much one can do with Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn Jr. as your primary targets.

Broncos over Steelers

This pick mainly comes down to one factor: health.

If the Steelers follow proper concussion protocol, Antonio Brown will not be playing in this game. This means Ben Roethlisberger will be facing the No. 1 defense in the NFL with torn shoulder ligaments in his throwing shoulder and his best receiving target out of action.I don’t think that is a very good recipe for success.

I’m still not sure if benching Brock Osweiler for a still shaky looking Peyton Manning was a good idea, but I don’t think that issue will rear its head this weekend.

With that, we wrap up another week of playoff picks. Next week, the field will be narrowed to four as the conference championships are played to determine who will represent their conference in the Super Bowl.

Come back next week for coverage of the conference championship and any other news from the weekend here at the Cowan Corner.

Playoffs: 1-3

Regular Season: 156-100

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