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NFL Divisional Weekend Previews for NFC and AFC South

These are the NFL Divisional Weekend previews for the teams in the NFC and AFC South divisions.

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

The New Orleans Saints surprised most of the football world last week by not only going on the road, but going into the cold conditions of Philadelphia, and walking out with a win, 26-24. Now they get a rematch with a Seattle Seahawks team that tied for the best record in the league at 13-3, allowed the least amount of points in the league (under 15 per game), had a week off last week, and dominated the Saints back in week 13 by a score of 34-7, in this same stadium.

For the Saints to find a way to steal this one, Drew Brees has to play much better than he did in their previous meeting when he went 23-38 for only 147 yards with 1 TD, his worst game of the year. They also have to find a way to do what they did last week, rush the football. Without Pierre Thomas, the Saints surprisingly rushed for 185 yards. If they can get over 100 this week, not only will they cover that current 8 point spread, but they will have a good chance to win outright.

The winner of this game will face the winner of San Francisco vs. Carolina. A 2nd consecutive New Orleans road win will send them on the road again to the winner of that game. A Seattle win would keep them at home to host the winner of that game for the NFC Championship.

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers

The 49ers went into the, literally, frozen tundra of Lambeau field and gutted out a 23-20 win against the Green Bay Packers. Colin Kaepernick used his legs, just like their previous playoff meeting, last year, when he rushed for 181 yards, an NFL record for QBs. This time he “only” got 98 yards on the ground, but it was an 11 yard run on 3rd down and 8 by Kaepernick that was critical in helping the Niners setup a game winning 33 yard FG, by Phil Dawson, as time expired.

I have a feeling this game could be the game of the week. Vegas agrees as while the other 3 games all have touchdown or more spreads, this game is a straight up old fashioned pick em. The 12-4 Panthers are the #2 seed and their defense has only given up 15 ppg this year, 2nd to Seattle. On twitter, I’ve often used a hashtag that I created, #TheDefenseIsReal, and yes, they’re real and spectacular. Gun to the head, most people will take the 49ers because they have been here before, but I wouldn’t put anything past star QB Cam Newton, as we all saw him in the National Championship game a few years ago, so we know what he can do on the big stage.

As I mentioned earlier, a Saints win would mean that the winner of this game would be hosting the NFC Championship game last week, but a Seattle win would mean the winner of this game would be traveling to the always tough homefield of the Seattle Seahawks, home of the 12th man.

Indianapolis Colts at the New England Patriots

The Indianapolis Colts pulled of the 2nd biggest comeback in NFL playoff history. Down at 1 point 38-10 in the 2nd half, Andrew Luck and the Colts stormed back, with some lucky breaks, to shock the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44. The improbable comeback will send the Colts to New England where Mr. Tom Brady will be waiting with the Patriots. The 12-4 Pats finished as the #2 seed and seem to be clicking at the right time. I can almost guarantee you that if Luck throws 3 INTs like last week, they won’t be as luck”y” as they were last week.

NBC gave a stat last week that will tell you everything you need to know about what Indy has to do to have a chance to win this game. The percentage is upward in the 90% tile of teams at home that win the turnover battle. Quite frankly, the Colts have to make the Patriots do what the Patriots normally don’t do in the playoffs, turn the ball over. Also, Luck has to play arguably a flawless game or at least match Brady pass for pass, a big order for the 2nd year pro. The Colts know they will live and die on his arm and this is his chance to add to the legendary status he started last week.

The winner of this game will move on to face the winner of the Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers game. A win by Denver means the winner of this game will be on the road, but a San Diego upset, and the winner will be hosting the AFC Championship game on Conference Championship Sunday.

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