The Seahawks and Panthers have met in the regular season in each of the last three seasons, including Week 8 this year. The Seahawks have won all three of those match ups in Carolina, but the Panther defense has made each game a struggle for the defending champions. The Seahawks never scored more than 16 points in those three games, as each game was decided by less than a touchdown. However, in the last two games the Panthers have not even reached double digits. Last week the Panthers defense set a record, holding the Cardinals to 77 yards total offense. However, that was a team with a third string quarterback not one that has won a Super Bowl. The Panthers led by Cam Newton actually kept the Cardinals in the game with several mistakes that if they are duplicated will spell doom. The Seahawks crowd will make mistakes likely and while the Panthers can hold the Seahawks offense somewhat, they can’t get enough against Settle themselves to make it matter.
This is the third time in four years that the Patriots are hosting the Ravens in the playoffs. The Patriots escaped by a Field Goal in the 2011 AFC Championship, with the Ravens getting revenge a year later on the way to winning Super Bowl XLVII. The Ravens are not nearly as good as they were two years ago, as they are several key players have since retired. The Patriots meanwhile are better than there were two years ago, they have an improved defense and Rob Gronkowski is healthy for the first time in three years. This game will also be played on Saturday, the Patriots since the gift of the Tuck Play have not lost a Saturday Playoff Game at home, winning six straight. In recent years the Patriots have cruised on Saturday Night, winning the last four by a combined score of 147-55. May the Ravens can keep it close for the first half, but eventually the Patriots will pull away and win by three touchdowns.
Something has to give in this matchup. The Dallas Cowboys were 8-0 on the road, while the Green Bay Packers were 8-0 at Lambeau Field. The Cowboys have never fared well in Lambeau Field, losing seven of eight games in Green Bay, including the infamous Ice Bowl. The Packers major concern has to be centered on Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is playing with a slight tear in his calf. Rodgers was able to play through pain in Week 17 as the Packers beat the Lions to win the NFC North. Two weeks off should help a little, but one wrong step and Matt Flynn could be carrying the burden for Green Bay. Flynn was able to beat the Cowboys in Dallas last season, leading a comeback for the ages. The Cowboys are quite simply lucky to be here, they were outplayed by the Lions last week until the officials gifted them the win by picking up a pass inference call and later flat out ignoring an offensive holding call on a key fourth down. If karma matters alone the Cowboys will get stomped, but the NFL could see the benefit of a New England-Dallas Super Bowl and give them more help.
Every now and then you can see the changing of the guard. For over a decade Peyton Manning was franchise in Indianapolis, turning the Colts from laughing stocks to perennial Super Bowl Contenders, winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2006 and going to the Super Bowl again three years later. The year that Peyton Manning underwent neck surgery and the Colts collapsed to a 2-14 season, coincided with Andrew Luck being the top pick the draft. Manning moved on to Denver and has led the Broncos to three great seasons and the Super Bowl last season. Meanwhile, Luck has made the Colts strong with three straight playoff appearances. Andrew Luck is on the verge of becoming the best quarterback in the NFL. In two meetings against his former team, Peyton Manning is 1-1, including a 31-24 win in Week 1 at home. Manning has looked slightly off down the stretch, playing with a strain in his thigh, this is just the opening the Colts need to get Luck his first road playoff win. The game will be close throughout, but as the game winds down, Andrew Luck will show his ability to comeback and win close games late in the playoffs something he already has done better than Peyton Manning.