Because it’s the playoffs and footfall dominates so much of our culture, each Friday this January we’ll provide a primer and predictions to carry you through the weekend. Picks are by SQ co-founder Sara Friedman – known in our offices at “The Coach” for her sports savvy. – The Quippers (Sanyin, Sara, and Lauren)
GAMES TO WATCH
NFC Divisional: New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
(January 11th – 4:35pm – FOX)
The New Orleans Saints head up to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Seahawks for the second time this season for the first divisional game in the NFC. This is no easy task for the Saints; the dominant Seahawks are strong across the board especially in their defense in the secondary and the pass rush. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been strong all season for the Seahawks offense so Saints quarterback Drew Brees will need a monster game for the Saints to knock off Seattle on the road.
- Something to know: The Seahawks are 7-1 at home and beat the Saints 34-7 in week 13.
- Key Seahawks: Pete Carroll (Coach), Russell Wilson (Quarterback), Golden Tate (Wide Receiver), Marshawn Lynch (Running Back), Richard Sherman (Cornerback), Earl Thomas (Defensive Back)
- Key Saints: Sean Payton (Coach) Drew Brees (Quarterback), Jimmy Graham (Tight End), Darren Sproles (Running Back), Keenan Lewis (Cornerback), Corey White (Cornerback), Lance Moore (Wide Receiver)
- Random Fact: After weathering ridiculous snow in Philly last week to score a victory against The Eagles, The Saints will once again combat weird weather in Seattle. Meteorologists expect heavy rain and extreme wind.
The Pick: Seattle Seahawks
AFC Divisional: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
(January 11th – 8:15pm – CBS)
The New England Patriots are back in action this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxboro. Quarterback Andrew Luck led the Colts to an insane comeback win against the Chiefs last weekend, but don’t think early mistakes will be as easy to overcome in this Saturday’s game. The Patriots defense has suffered numerous injuries this season and might be struggling, but look for Coach Bill Belichick to work with what he’s got and stop the turnover-prone Colt’s offense. If Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady continues his razor sharp focus with his passing game and the rush remains strong, the Patriots should have no problem getting the win.
- Something to know: The Patriots success this season is pretty remarkable. They lost a significant amount of talent to injuries and off the field issues, and are still looking like a formidable Super Bowl contender.
- Key Patriots: Bill Belichick (Coach), Tom Brady (Quarterback), Aqib Talib (Cornerback), Devin McCourty (Defensive Back), Julian Edelman (Wide Receiver), Danny Amendola (Wide Receiver), LaGarrette Blount (Running Back)
- Key Colts: Coach Chuck Pagano (Coach), Andrew Luck (Quarterback), T.Y. Hilton (Wide Receiver), Robert Mathis (Linebacker), Donald Brown (Running Back)
- Something Random: Tom Brady spent part of the bye week playing in the snow with wife Gisele Bundchen and their adorable kids in Boston. These two kids make quite the power couple and met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend.
The Pick: New England Patriots
NFC Divisional: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
(January 12th – 1:05pm – FOX)
In one of the most intriguing games of the weekend, the Carolina Panthers will host the red-hot San Francisco 49ers at home in Charlotte. The Panthers defeated the Niners the first time they played in Week 10, but no easy-win expected in this go-around. After a rough season of injuries, the Niners offense is finally healthy and back to full-strength. Look for quarterback Colin Kaepernick to use his running and throwing game to hit his talented offensive including: Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. Quarterback Cam Newton and Panthers offense will need to be ready for a solid 49ers defense that wants redemption.
- Something to know: Under the spotlight since winning a national title as the Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton is looking to prove that he can lead the Panthers to their first playoff win since joining the team three years ago.
- Key 49ers: Jim Harbaugh (Coach), Colin Kaepernick (Quarterback), Frank Gore (Running Back), Anquin Boldin (Wide Receiver), Michael Crabtree (Wide Receiver), Vernon Davis (Tight End), Aldon Smith (Linebacker)
- Key Panthers: Ron Rivera (Coach), Cam Newton (Quarterback), DeAngelo Williams (Running Back), Greg Olsen (Tight End), Steve Smith (Wide Receiver), Luke Kuechly (Linebacker)
- Something Random: Coach Ron Rivera and Coach Jim Harbaugh were once teammates on the Chicago Bears.
The Pick: Carolina Panthers
AFC Divisional: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
(January 12th – 4:40pm – CBS)
After a slow start to the season, the 10-7 San Diego Chargers will look to continue their sizzling and surprising run against the AFC top seeded Denver Broncos. Quarterback Phillip Rivers is making the most of his revitalized career and will look to lead the Chargers to a second victory over the Broncos this season. The Broncos defense will look to overcome the pain of losing top linebacker Von Miller on defense to a season ending ACL tear. If one thing’s for sure; Quarterback Peyton Manning will have his offense more than prepared for this game. The Broncos might be favored, but this game could be close.
- Something to know: The Broncos suffered a heartbreaking loss last season against the 2013 Super Bowl champs Baltimore Ravens in last season’s divisional matchup. Look for this to be on their minds on Sunday.
- Key Broncos: John Fox (Coach), Peyton Manning (Quarterback), Knowshon Moreno (Running Back), Demaryius Thomas (Wide Receiver), Eric Decker (Wide Receiver). Champ Bailey (Cornerback)
- Key Chargers: Mike McCoy (Coach), Philip Rivers (Quarterback), Ryan Matthews (Running Back), Danny Woodhead (Running Back), Keenan Allen (Wide Receiver), Antonio Gates (Tight End)
- Random Fact: Peyton Manning set the record for single season touchdowns and passing yards this season with 55 and 5,477 respectively. Records are great, but it’s hard to argue that the only thing Peyton Manning wants this off-season is to add a second Super Bowl ring to his collection.
The Pick: Denver Broncos