Sunday’s Divisional Round Outlook

Posted: January 12, 2014 in NFL
Tags: , , , , ,

By Jesse Granger and W.G. Ramirez

San Francisco 49ers (-1, 41) @ Carolina Panthers

Colin Kaepernick will lead the 49ers into Carolina looking for his fourth career playoff win. It’s a rematch from week 10 when the Panthers left San Francisco with a 10-9 victory.  Carolina has found success against the 49ers, going 15-3 against the spread since 1995.  The major question for the Panthers going in is how Cam Newton will perform in his first career playoff game.

JESSE’S TAKE – Carolina enter this week in a familiar spot, as the underdogs. The Panthers have been underrated and overlooked all season, so it’s only fitting that Carolina is getting a point at home. Last week home field didn’t appear to be much of an advantage, as three of the four teams went home for good. What was the common factor in all three of those games? The road team was simply the better team.  That’s the case here. While Newton and Kaepernick are similar players, Newton has yet to experience playoff football, so I like the 49ers to win and cover the point.

WILLIE’S TAKE – Carolina looked good on Nov. 10, when it traveled to San Francisco and completely shut down the 49ers in a 10-9 victory. And since they’ve lost three of their first four games, the Panthers have gone on an 11-1 run and roll into the postseason one of the hottest teams left in the playoffs. I look at it like this: they did it once, why not again?  Remember, this is the same Panthers team that also beat the Patriots and Saints on Tobacco Road, and since a season-opening home loss to Seattle, the Panthers are on winning runs of 7-0 SU and 6-0-1 ATS at home. Take the home dog.

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos (-8′, 54′)

These two AFC West rivals will meet up for the third time this season after the two split in the regular season. The Broncos have been one of the biggest public plays all year, and for good reason as they finished 10-6 against the spread, but Phillip Rivers has played well in Denver, going 6-1-1 against the spread in his last eight visits to the Mile High City.

JESSE’S TAKE – Peyton Manning has lit up scoreboards like a Christmas tree, and thrown record books into a paper shredder this season. His all-time records in passing touchdowns and yardage are all the convincing one needs that Denver can torch the Chargers.  But in the last meeting, San Diego kept the ball out of Manning’s hands and walked out of Denver with a 27-20 win. The biggest difference for Denver this time around is Wes Welker is back from his concussion, and the weather will be warm Sunday afternoon.  Denver ends the Chargers’ Cinderella run with a double-digit win.

WILLIE’S TAKE – I’m not going to lie, I think this is Peyton Manning’s year to get back to the Super Bowl, and can’t wait to see him play in the AFC Championship against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. You really can’t underestimate the Manning’s offensive prowess, I admit that. However, make note the Broncos’ last four victories against teams with a .500 record or better has come by way of an average of 7.0 points. These two have already split two close games in the regular season, and it’s been the guest winning each game. San Diego, which has won five straight and has covered four of those games, is playing with too much confidence. Take the road pup.

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