Baltimore (4) vs Denver (1) - Saturday January 12 - 4:30 p.m.
This match is between the AFC North and AFC West champions. After coming off of an easy win last week versus Indianapolis, the Ravens appear ready for another playoff run. However, coming into Denver isn't an easy task and I suspect they may falter.
The Broncos are one of the hottest teams in the playoffs winning 11 straight games that landed them the #1 playoff seed in the AFC. Peyton Manning is having one of his best season following neck surgery. They seem to have it all together right now. Winning NFL games is quite a feat and winning 11 in a row is certainly nothing to ignore, however that stretch was a little padded. In that span they beat two playoff teams: Baltimore and Cincinnati. The rest of the teams were pretty much duds.
Keeping that in mind... I still pick Denver to win this game. Denver's defense is one of the best statistically in the league. They are ranked higher than Baltimore in nearly every category. The Denver D are tied with the Rams for the most sacks this season at 52.0. Already looking forward to Flacco eating some dirt.
Denver's offense, as you would suspect, is second in the league for total offense. Baltimore's is... not. They aren't terrible, but they aren't putting up the numbers Peyton and his Broncos have been all season.
Pending any catastrophic special teams play or an excessive amount of turnovers, I believe Denver runs away with this game. Not a blowout, but they win by a touchdown.
Baltimore 20, Denver 27
Houston (3) vs New England (2) - Sunday January 13 - 4:30 p.m.
I was excited about this matchup when it was played on December 10th. Then the Patriots blew out the Texans ,which Alabama mimicked Monday night versus Notre Dame. Houston didn't look like it belonged on the same field as New England in their last game. I don't expect a change, but I am going to naively say that it won't be quite the blowout as last time.
The Texan's skid into the playoff still worries me. It may have been enough momentum to beat the Bengals, but not this Patriots team, not in Foxboro, not this year. This team is out for blood after losing the Super Bowl last year and they aren't going home in the first round of the playoffs.
New England 31, Houston 20