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NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Saturday Picks

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Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos, 4:30 Saturday – With game time temperature expected to be a frigid 17 degrees, say what you want about Peyton Manning and his lack of success in cold weather playoff games (0-3 with the temperature below 40 degrees and a 1:7 TD-INT ratio). Or bring up the fact that the Broncos had the weakest strength of schedule of all the remaining playoff teams in the AFC. All of that doesn’t matter. Manning and the Broncos have the opportunity to quite the critics and expect them to do just that. The Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL with 11 straight victories, including a 34-17 victory over the Ravens on December 16. Baltimore’s offense is too inconsistent on the road, and it’s most visible from the play of Joe Flacco. While Flacco is the only QB in NFL history to lead his team to the playoffs in each of their first five years, he struggles on the road and will faces a Bronco defense that ranks 2nd in the NFL. Baltimore is also playing on a short week and it’s always interesting to see what kind of effect the thin area of Denver will have on opposing teams. With Ray Lewis retiring at the end of the season, I would love to see one of the greatest linebackers of all time to continue his career, but Saturday will be his final game before he moves on to an analyst job at ESPN. DENVER 24 BALTIMORE 20

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, 8:00 Saturday – The Packers and Niners are the two most evenly matched teams in the divisional round. When that’s the case, I base my pick on who is taking snaps under center. With a healthy wide receiving core of Gregg Jennings, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, along with tight end Jermichael Finley, who has been quietly productive during the 2nd half of the season, Aaron Rodgers has a plethora of options to attack a very good Niners defense. Colin Kaepernick has been a wonderful story after taking over as the starting QB for the Niners. But he’s going against a Packer defense that is healthy and getting better. Packers were the #1 seed in the NFC last year and were upset in the divisional round. This year Packers play spoiler. GREEN BAY 27 SAN FRANCISCO 23

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