After the 49ers and Ravens advanced yesterday in impressive fashion, our writers select who the two teams will be playing next week.
Seahawks at Falcons
Danny: ATL 28 SEA 17- Everyone seems so willing to crown Seattle, but I think it’s Matt Ryan’s time. Anytime you have a 1 seed believing they are an underdog and they are playing at home it’s a recipe for disaster for the opposition.While Seattle has the size in the secondary to matchup with the Falcons receivers, I expect Tony Gonzalez to have a big day. Believe it or not, the future hall of famer has never won a playoff game, it’s time he gets the monkey off his back.
Wes: ATL 24 SEA 21- These two teams did not meet during the regular season, so there is no history from which to base this pick. Recent postseason history suggests that the Falcons falter in some of the worst possible ways when the playoffs begin, but I think they finally get over the hump this year. Seattle has an outstanding defense, but I think the Falcons have just enough offensive weapons to offset what is the Seahawks’ biggest strength. Although the Seahawks have dispelled the notion that they are a poor road team with some recent victories, including their wild-card round win against the Redskins, I still have some lingering doubts about Seattle as the visiting team. I’m sure the Falcons want nothing more than to dispel their own critics, and I think they get the job done in a close game in Atlanta.
Garr: SEA 27 ATL 24 – This really seems like the year Atlanta will break their playoff skid and finally prove to all the critics that they are for real. But look at the Seahawks. They have a game under their belt. They know they can come back from a double-digit deficit, and they know they can win on the road. And let’s be honest, what’s the fun in picking all chalk? Especially from a guy who picked the Lions to win fourteen out of sixteen games this year! Seattle wins on a late touchdown, the criticism grows in Atlanta and the Russell Wilson bandwagon grows even more.
Texans at Patriots
Danny: NE 45 HOU 20 – The Patriots routed the Texans earlier this season without Rob Gronkowski. With Gronk and Hernandez finally healthy together, the Patriots will be able to audible in and out of pass and runs making their no-huddle nearly unstoppable. The Texans aren’t built to play from behind.
Wes: NE 34 HOU 20- This is a rematch of a Week 14 game that was also held in New England. The home team came out on top, 42-14, in the midst of a stretch in which they won nine of their final 10 games. The Patriots blew out a lot of teams this year, causing me to put them as my Super Bowl favorites at several different points during the season. However, their early-season loss to the lowly Cardinals was a bit confusing. The only other concern I would have with this otherwise-strong Patriots team is that their other three losses this season came by a combined nine points, which could mean that they have trouble winning close games. Meanwhile, the Texans won 11 of their first 12 games this season only to finish by losing three of their last four. Their playoff win against the Bengals last week was nice, but I still don’t see how they can go to Foxborough and come away with a win. The Texans were a very strong team for the majority of the season, but they lost momentum at the wrong time. I see another blowout in store.
Garr: NE 31 HOU 27 – We all remember the 42-14 smack-down the Patriots put on the Texans only weeks ago on national television. If this game were in Houston, it might be different. But the fact that Houston blew its shot at home field advantage will play a role in this game. The Patriots are rested, they know how to beat the Texans, and they have home field advantage. Oh, they also have the best quarterback in the game right now.