NFL predictions: Conference semifinals
The NFL weekend of the year has arrived. Four games, all of them good. Last week, we had four games, but only one decent game (Seattle-Washington). Hardly makes the case to expand the playoff field when Minnesota and Cincinnati play such dud games. Hopefully, those are past us.
Ravens at Broncos, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS: Denver 30-20. Give the Ravens credit. They’ve transitioned from a defensive juggernaut to a team that can win with offense. But that doesn’t play as well in January. Time was, Peyton Manning would be quaking in his cleats at the thought of the Baltimore defense in the AFC semifinals. But the Raven cornerbacks are shaky, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are past their prime, and Joe Flacco has to win this game for the Baltimores.
Packers at 49ers, 7 p.m. Saturday, FOX: Green Bay 31-26. San Francisco has the better defense. San Francisco is hungrier. San Francisco is on a mission. San Francisco has homefield advantage. San Francisco has a great coach. But the Packers have Aaron Rodgers.
Seahawks at Falcons, noon Sunday, FOX: Seattle 23-13. Totally unfair that the Seahawks have to play a playoff game at 10 a.m. West Coast time. Stunning that the league would allow it. Except in this case, it won’t matter. Atlanta is playing with the burden of playoff failure — no post-season victories in the Mike Smith era. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are playing loose and free.
Texans at Patriots, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, CBS: New England 38-20. Houston would have a fighting chance deep in the heart of Texas. But the Texans squandered homefield, and now they get to play in Foxborough, where they were rolled 42-14 a month ago. Good luck.
Last week: 3-1. Season: 163-101-1.
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