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NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

January 12, 2007

The selections in this column are purely the opinion of the writer Jeff Wilson and are not being endorsed by any parties.

Indianapolis (+4) at Baltimore

Indianapolis shut down running back Larry Johnson last week, so they should be able to stop Baltimore's running attack this week, right? Wrong. The horrible Indianapolis run defense will not play nearly as well on the road even though the Ravens' backs are not nearly as talented as Johnson.

The other big match-up here is the Baltimore pass defense versus Peyton Manning. Manning is 3-2 lifetime at home in the playoffs, but just 1-4 on the road. The Colts need a vintage performance from him to win this game, and his past playoff performance dictates that is not likely to happen.

Pick: Baltimore

Philadelphia (+5) at New Orleans

The key match-up here is the Saints passing attack versus the Philadelphia pass defense. Drew Brees has had an outstanding year at quarterback, but his playoff experience is limited to just one game, a loss to the Jets in San Diego. Brees is happy that Eagles' cornerback, Lito Sheppard is out for this game.

A concern about New Orleans in this game is they haven't played dominant football at home. They are 1-4 in their last five home games, although you can't really count the last defeat to Carolina when the starters sat. Still, I think Philadelphia will do enough to keep it close, and an upset wouldn't shock me. I'll take the points.

Pick: Philadelphia

Seattle (+9) at Chicago

This is a rematch of an earlier game in Chicago when the Bears thrashed the Seahawks, 37-6. Quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck played in that game, but Shaun Alexander didn't. Seattle is banged up heading into this game as receivers Darrell Jackson and DJ. Hackett were both re-injured in their win over Dallas.

Seattle's cornerbacks are also depleted, although they held up against the Cowboys. The Bears' big question mark is Rex Grossman, but he can have some success against this makeshift secondary. Even with an average offensive effort, the Bears defense will carry them to a double digit win.

Pick: Chicago

New England (+5) at San Diego

The spread for this game is sitting at a solid five points. That is what happens when the best team in the league is at home and coming off a bye. The Chargers also have the league's MVP in LaDainian Tomlinson. The other side of the coin has New England with three Super Bowl wins under Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Belichick and Brady are 11-1 in the playoffs together. San Diego coach, Marty Schottenheimer is 5-12 lifetime in the playoffs and hasn't won a game since the 1993 season. I think the Patriots run defense is good enough to keep Tomlinson from running wild, and quarterback Philip Rivers will have some first time playoff jitters.

Pick: New England

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