By: Derek Havens
And then, there were eight.
The “Elite Eight” NFL teams are set to showdown this weekend and there are some great match-ups. Evenly matched and quality teams are set to square off on Saturday and Sunday. Here are my predictions for this weekend’s games.
— Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
Prediction: Broncos Win
I think the Ravens will come to play, but it’s hard for me to envision them coming out of Mile High with a victory. Less than a week after playing an emotional game, going on the road and facing a healthy Broncos team — just don’t see it. I will be curious to see how Peyton Manning performs in cold weather, in his first post-season start for Denver.
— Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
Prediction: Packers Win
This is a tough game and could be the best contest of the weekend. The 49ers are a tremendous team, but I have my reservations about QB Colin Kaepernick. Ever since Jim Harbaugh made the switch, I have been waiting for Kaepernick to make a mistake that makes everyone question that decision. I don’t see Justin Smith playing very close to healthy with torn triceps and the San Francisco defense has struggled when he does. Look for Green Bay to start fast and Kaepernick to make mistakes trying to catch up.
— Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
I don’t feel great about this prediction, but I feel like Atlanta has to win this game. Seattle has played great this season, but I cannot imagine them winning back-to-back road games against a hungry Falcons team. Atlanta knows they need to prove themselves for people to take them seriously and I think they can get the job done in front of their home crowd.
— Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Including their week 14 match-up, the Texans stumbled into the playoffs losing three of their last four to close out the regular season. I also wasn’t impressed with their 19-13 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday. The Patriots are very healthy and will be fired up in front of the Gillette faithful. It might not be the 28-point blowout it was in early December, but I expect the reloaded Pats to come out firing on all cylinders and I am not sure Houston has the mental make-up to recover if they are hit in the mouth early.
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