Saints @ Seahawks (-8) 4:35 EST
Over/Under @ 45
These two teams met in Seattle 40 days ago when the hosts throttled Drew Brees & Co. 34-7. Since that time very little has changed and the Seahawks remain the league favorite according to most NFL Super Bowl Odds.
The Saints are 3-2 since that December 2nd beat down, 1-2 on the road while the Seahawks are 2-2. Pete Carroll’s troops haven’t exactly been sharp but they have the league’s best defense, one that is particularly dangerous at home where they’ve often dominated in the turnover department. They are a league best at +20.
Rain is expected throughout the game with temperatures hovering below 50 and wind gusts up to 40 mph. Those conditions just scream defense, running the football and forcing turnovers, all categories that the Seahawks are just better in than the Saints – a team that is far less productive on the road going up against a dominant home team.
Unless the Saints can come out and punch the Pacific Northwest bullies in the mouth from the start and quiet the league’s best “12th man”, there’s little reason to expect an outcome much different than the last meeting between these two.
PREDICTION: Seahawks 24, Saints 13
Colts @ Patriots (-7) 8:15 EST
Over/Under @ 52
The last time these two teams met was in Foxboro during Week 11 in 2012 when the Patriots throttled the horseshoes by the score of 59-24. Tom Brady and Andrew Luck went toe-to-toe in the passing yards category (331 to 334) but the host QB protected the football while Luck wasn’t so lucky, throwing 3 interceptions, two of which went for scores.
This time around Brady is without some of the weaponry he had last season yet the Patriots field a very balanced attack with the 7th ranked offense, 10th passing and 9th on the ground. He’ll be facing a Colts defense ranked 13th overall, 20th against the pass and 7th v. the run.
Luck meanwhile will encounter the 7th ranked defense that is stout against the run (3rd) and rather average v. the pass (15th). During that meeting last season, TY Hilton, who brings a hot hand to New England, had 6 catches for 100 yards for 2 scores. But then the Colts had Reggie Wayne and without the perennial Pro Bowler Bill Belichick will do what he so often does – invest resources to eliminate a player and that player will be Hilton.
Conditions are expected to be very wet at Gillette Stadium although temps will be moderate in the 50’s. It’s a bit of a reach to expect a dome team to take on such conditions in Foxboro in January against a team that seems to be finding its groove.
CBS will get half of its wish today when Brady does his part to secure an AFC Championship game in Denver.
PREDICTION: Patriots 34, Colts 20
PREDICTIONS FROM WILD CARD WEEKEND
3-1 v. Winners
4-0 v. Spread