The Kingshark Line: Divisional Rounds
The Elite Eight- One weekend into the NFL Post Season and we have already seen some amazing football games take place. During Wild Card Weekend there were games that were high scoring as well as games that went down to the wire. In the NFC, both the Saints-Eagles and the 49ers-Packers came down to who had the ball last. In the NFC the Saints and 49ers took advantage of their game’s final possession and successfully milked the clock with around five minutes remaining to set up what ultimately became game winning field goals in very suspense filled contest. Meanwhile over in the AFC the Colts staged one of the greatest comebacks in NFL post season history in what turned out to be a high scoring tilt with the Chiefs that saw both teams put up a combined 89 points. In the other game, it was not really as close as the upstart Chargers proved the Bengals were who many of us at least suspected they might be, that is not ready for prime time let alone the pressure of post season football. This all sets up the next round of games as the Playoffs move on to the divisional rounds.
On Saturday the AFC’s fourth seeded Indianapolis Colts take on the second seeded New England Patriots. In the NFC the top seeded Seattle Seahawks and their “12th Man” will meet up again with the sixth seeded New Orleans Saints in a rematch of a game played between the two teams on December 2nd. The Saints to be certain want a much different result then that Monday night game that was for them somewhat forgettable. On Sunday, the NFC’s fifth seed, the San Francisco 49ers will take in the number two seeded Carolina Panthers. The 49ers are also looking for a much different outcome than the one on November 10th when the Panthers pulled of a 10-9 upset at Candlestick Park. This time the rematch will be at the Panthers home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The second game on Sunday will feature the AFC’s top seeded Denver Broncos as they take on upstart sixth seed and their AFC West Division rivals in the San Diego Chargers. The Broncos and Chargers until now have never met in the post season, but have played 108 regular season games between each other in the many years they’ve shared the same division. The two teams split this year’s regular season series with each team beating the other team in the losing team’s home stadium. The combined point differential between the two teams this season is just one (Denver 48, San Diego 47).
The Kingshark Line- This is shaping up to be a good weekend of football as well. Last week the Kingshark Line went 3-1 for Wild Card Weekend. For the season the KSL is 178-84-1. With four games on tap for this weekend here is how the Kingshark Line sees these games shaping up (seedings listed next to team)...
(4)Indianapolis @ (2) New England (CBS)- A match up between a second year quarterback in Andrew Luck and a veteran of many playoff games and championships in Tom Brady. One of the things the Colts must realize even before kickoff is that there is no way they can fall behind the Patriots by four touchdowns and expect to win, New England is just a different animal all together. The Colts certainly have enough fire power that if they play well can give a team like the Patriots all they can handle. Brady meanwhile has been there and done that and there is nothing to him that is really uncharted territory. The biggest problem the Colts may have is that you don’t know which defense will show up. If it’s the defense that had great games against the Chiefs and 49ers in the regular season, they will have a great opportunity in this game. If it’s the defense that showed up last week in the Wild Card game, they could be in some trouble. The Colts have had a bad habit this season of starting games poorly and sometimes they never recovered from it. The Patriots meanwhile have had their own ups and downs during the season however are one of those teams that once they reach the post season become very focused at what they need to do and generally are able to execute their game plan. In this game Luck will keep the Colts in the hunt. Brady unless he has a very bad day will probably approach this with the same poise he approached playoff games in the past. Brady and the Patriots right now have that much more post season experience that the Colts. Luck’s best days are certainly ahead of him. Brady meanwhile is still in his prime. Patriots 24 Colts 20.
(6)New Orleans @ (1) Seattle (FOX)- The Saints for the second time in 40 calender days enter the Devil’s Island of the NFL know as Century Link Field. On December 2nd the Saints then in the number two spot in the NFC playoff bracket were boat-raced by the Seahawks 34-7 in a game that was over well before halftime. The Saints certainly have not forgotten that miserable evening in the Northwest and know they will need to bring a lot more to the table this time around. For the Seahawks they’ll have had 13 days to rest and get ready for this game and are a fairly confident group who may talk a lot of smack but have usually also backed it up with a good deal of authority especially at home. The Saints defensively need to find ways to keep Russell Wilson from escaping the box and limiting his options. At the same time they also need to get enough bodies on Marshawn Lynch whenever he gets the ball. On offense the Saints may actually need to be a little more conservative and find ways to effectively move the ball while eating the clock. The Saints also must be able to protect Drew Brees if he’s going to be able to distribute the football effectively. The Saints would be best advise to follow the blueprint the Arizona Cardinals laid out in Week 16 when they upset the Seahawks at Century Link. The Seahawks meanwhile are confident in all phases of their game both offensively and defensively. If Wilson gets time he can run or pass with great impact. On defense the Seahawks are as tough as they come and are the top defense in the NFL for a reason. Can the Saints pull the upset here? There is always that chance but it will take a lot. This game should be closer than the first meeting since New Orleans likely did their homework. Seattle right now is too loaded and are looking to show the country why they have the best record in the NFL. Seahawks 27 Saints 17.
(5) San Francisco @ (2) Carolina (FOX)- The 49ers and Panthers are another rematch game. The two teams met November 10th at Candlestick Park where Carolina came away with a 10-9 victory. Nine weeks later the two teams meet again with the winner heading to the NFC Championship game next weekend. 49ers QB Colin Kaerpernick and Panthers QB Cam Newton have many similarities as both are able to throw a strong football with good accuracy to their intended targets. Both QB’s are also running threats and at times have been their offenses leading rusher in some games. Both defenses are in the top 10 in the NFL in most categories. There are sufficient arguments as to how and why either the 49ers or Panthers should win this game and all of those arguments make sense. Both teams are that evenly matched here. This could be one of those games that like last weekend in Green Bay comes down to whomever possess the football last. Since the last time the two teams played the 49ers have Michael Crabtree back in the fold which allows them to spread the offense much better. Carolina meanwhile may or may not have veteran wide receiver Steve Smith available for this game. Other than that both teams are somewhat loaded up and ready to get at it. The Panthers have an edge with rest and having already played and beaten San Francisco. Where the 49ers have the edge is having won their last seven games being on a similar run to what Carolina was on earlier this year. The 49ers also have shown they are a strong road team and much faith in their game planning. Above all the 49ers have on thing here this is invaluable, playoff experience. Adding to it what happened in Green Bay in sub-zero weather, the 49ers showed they are ready to handle most anything. This is not to say the Panthers can’t win here because they certainly could. The 49ers are just hotter and a little more seasoned in the playoff experience department plus they have already played Carolina having taken their best shot. The game will be close and one that will keep even the most neutral fans on the edge of their seats. 49ers 20 Panthers 17. For more information on this game, please go to this link: http://goldengatereport.com/articles/49ers-vs-carolina-panthers-the-rematch
(6) San Diego @ (1) Denver (CBS)- The San Diego Chargers proved last week that they are indeed that team that nobody wants to play in the post season. Playing with house money and managing it well, the Chargers handled the Bengals 27-10 in Cincinnati last week. The Chargers are also picking the right time to be playing their best football which may be a huge edge for them here. Add to that the Chargers were in Denver just a month earlier and pulled a Week 15 upset of the Broncos in a Thursday night game. The Broncos meanwhile have had two weeks rest and a week to prepare for an all too familiar opponent. Denver is looking to this time get the script right after losing a shocker to the eventual champion Baltimore Ravens in last year’s divisional round. QB Peyton Manning leads one of the best offenses in the NFL, though they have had their problems with San Diego this season. However the Broncos are the one team that knows when given the chance they can take control of a game with an offensive attack that can be difficult to stop. Keep in mind too that the Broncos offense is a totally different offense than the one the Chargers saw in Cincinnati last weekend. The Broncos however have issues on defense that will have already needed to be addressed by the time this game starts. Von Miller will be out which will be huge. The Chargers meanwhile seem to be strong on defense as of late. For the Chargers to win they must control the ball and the clock. If Philip Rivers can actually throw the ball less because of a good ground attack that will favor San Diego. If the Chargers can’t keep the ball for extended periods of time it will be tough to win in Denver for the second time in 31 days. This game should be a good one, with Manning just edging out Rivers in a game with barn-burner potential. Broncos 34 Chargers 31.
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*Mandatory Disclaimer: The Kingshark Line is stickily for entertainment purposes only. I have the same exact information that anyone else has and do not claim to know any more or less than the next guy. This is not to promote or encourage gambling on football or any other sport. No point spreads are played here or implied in any way. Scores are for entertainment purposes only and are only based on team trends, team reports, etc. There is no inside information given here or implied. This is just for your information and entertainment. Enjoy the games.