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2015 NFL Divisional Round Predictions

The one game that seems like a toss up is Indianapolis VS Denver or Andrew Luck VS Peyton Manning part 2 if you want to call it that. The Colts and Broncos have accomplished a lot since the week 1 game when both teams met in Denver on Sunday Night Football.

Baltimore Ravens 11-6-0
New England Patriots 12-4-0

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

This is going to be about the 1 millionth Baltimore – New England playoff matchup that we have seen, but it should also be a good one. This New England team is different from the one’s in previous years and much more similar to the Super Bowl champion teams of the early 2000’s. Reliable offense and a stacked defense. Baltimore is not missing Ray Rice at all. Justin Forsett stepped in when Rice was released and has looked great ever since. This should be a good game, but I think the Patriots will put it away in the fourth quarter.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

I do not get how people think the Ravens can bet the Pats. Must have watched a different season that I did.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Baltimore Ravens will win Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs combine for 29 sacks in the regular season as Dumervil finished the year with 17 sacks as Suggs had 12 sacks. C.J. Mosley had 133 total tackles at middle linebacker and Daryl Smith had 128 total tackles a middle linebacker as well. To top things off, the Ravens got to Ben Roethlisberger 5 times on Saturday at Heinz Field.

Baltimore got Haloti Ngata back who abused Pittsburgh's offensive tackles and guards. Nobody on the offensive line could stop Ngata. Pittsburgh is more of a run blocking team than a pass blocking team. Ngata will have a tougher time against the Patriots.

If Joe Flacco can play turnover free football by moving the chains by connecting with Steve and Torrey Smith then the Ravens will win. Justin Forsett running the football with time of possession is also crucial. Flacco can pick apart this secondary and center Jeremy Zuttah can open up some running lanes at center while protecting Flacco.

New England has a much better defense than usual this year. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and defensive coordinator Dean Pees have to come up with a gameplan to get to Brady if the Ravens expect to pull the upset.

Why the New England Patriots will win Tom Brady finished the regular season with 4,109 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a 97.4 passer rating. Brady had an awesome year. Now he has to dominate in the playoffs once again.

New England rested Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Rob Gronkowski against Buffalo. Not practicing last week has to concern you. The Patriots held there team press conference on Tuesday just like the Ravens. Brady has a nice pass blocking unit up front along with some stealth pass protection.

The Patriots have Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at defensive end. Vince Wilfork is a Pro Bowl defensive tackle. These linebackers may not be big name players. These guys are sound tacklers.

This Patriots squad is loaded on the secondary with Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner at cornerback. Alfonzo Dennard plays nickel with Logan Ryan lined up at dime and Kyle Arrington as the quarter cornerback. New England has multiple strong safeties in Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. Devin McCourty was a zone coverage corner coming out of Rutgers before moving inside to free safety. McCourty's backup Tavon Wilson was a free safety at Illinois before the Patriots drafted him as a backup free safety.

Prediction: The Patriots enter as a 7 point favorite. The average gambler is betting $290 dollars on New England. I think the Patriots will win by two touchdowns.

Final Score Patriots 31 Ravens 17

Carolina Panthers 8-8-1
Seattle Seahawks 13-3-0

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

Seattle has completely turned around from the beginning of the season. Carolina surprised me last week and was able to come away with the win. However winning in Arizona against the Cardinals is almost a completely different game compared to beating the Seahawks in Seattle. I don’t think the Panthers have it in them and this will be their last week of the season.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

Seattle will annihilate the Panthers.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Carolina Panthers will win Carolina needs their first round picks from 2011 and beyond to step up. Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin must continue to dominate at quarterback and wide receiver. Benjamin has to pick apart the veteran Richard Sherman in order for Carolina to win.

On defense you have defensive tackle Star Lotuleilei and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Both players need to have big games.

The running game will matter too. Jonathan Stewart has to outrun Marshawn Lynch if Carolina wants to win. I am not sure he pulls it off.

Why the Seattle Seahawks will win Seattle ranked 3rd in run defense in the regular season. This defense is stacked at linebacker with Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright. The secondary is loaded as well with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Byron Maxwell. You have to love the Seahawks.

Left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger are playing injured. This offensive line will do well run blocking for Lynch. Wilson may not get as much time as usual in pass protection.

Prediction: The Seahawks are a 11 point favorite with the average gambler betting $575 dollars on Seattle. This will be another defensive contest with more offense. Seattle won 12 to 7 in 2013. In 2014, Seattle won 13 to 9. Seattle will win, but both teams will score over 10 points while neither team exceeds 20 points. At the end of the day, I still like Seattle to advance.

Final Score Seahawks 17 Panthers 12

Dallas Cowboys 13-4-0
Green Bay Packers 12-4-0

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

The Cowboys have been playing really good football recently and actually went all of December without a loss. I think the Cowboys are the only NFC team that I would pick to win in Green Bay and Seattle. It’ll come down to Green Bay’s defense. They have been hit or miss all year long so far. They seem to show up more at home, but it’s still not an all the time thing. I don’t think Green Bay’s defense will show up for the entire game and that’ll give the win to Dallas.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

I am taking the Packers. Dallas has the best chance to pull an upset this week.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Dallas Cowboys will win Detroit held DeMarco Murray to 75 rushing yards and they had the best run defense in the NFL. Murray ran for over 100 yards in Seattle, and Green Bay has one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.

Romo has a ton of weapons. Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams, and Cole Beasley play wide receiver. Romo also has a two tight end set with Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar.

The absence of nose tackle B.J. Raji, who has missed the entire season will allow Travis Frederick and Zack Martin to pave right by the Packers run defense.

Dallas is better at running the football and stopping the run and that will be the difference. This game will be close, but Dallas should win.

Green Bay had Joe Philbin at offensive coordinator and Dom Capers at defensive coordinator when they won Super Bowl 45. The Cowboys have Scott Linahan at offensive coordinator and Rod Marinelli at defensive coordinator. Dallas is also 8-0 on the road this season with a victory over the Seahawks in Seattle.

Why the Green Bay Packers will win Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback than Tony Romo. He is less likely to throw a pick than Romo.

Green Bay has Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and DaVante Adams at wide receiver. Green Bay has a better pass blocking unit than the Cowboys. David Bahktiari at left tackle, Josh Siton at left guard, Cory Linsley at center, T.J. Lang at right guard, and Bryan Bulaga at right tackle. This offensive line can protect Rodgers.

Green Bay has a better chance to pressure Romo than the Cowboys. Still I question the idea of Matthews at inside linebacker. He had 7 of his 11 sacks in 2011 at outside linebacker. A.J. Hawk only had 90 tackles when he usually has 100. You also have to consider that Mike Neal is starting over Nick Perry. That gives the Cowboys backup right tackle a chance to protect Romo and a good chance of opening up the lanes for Murray.

Green Bay will need a big day from the secondary. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields have to step up at cornerback. Strong safety Morgan Burnett and free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix should have big days as well. Green Bay needs a big day from this secondary because Murray will run the ball against this weak run defense.

Eddie Lacy is the X factor. If Lacy gets 100 yards Green Bay should win. If Lacy fails to exceed 100 yards, then Dallas will go to the NFC Championship.

Home field is an advantage Green Bay has. The Packers are 8-0 at home. Unlike Seattle, the Packers have yet to lose a home contest. Mason Crosby is a better kicker than Dan Bailey or whoever is kicking field goals instead

Prediction: The Packers are a 6 point favorite with the average gambler betting $240 dollars on Green Bay. I have a feeling that Dallas will win this game. I am just surprised that the Packers are favored by this much, and am even more shocked that the public is handing Vegas easy money.

Final Score Cowboys 42 Packers 27

Indianapolis Colts 12-5-0
Denver Broncos 12-4-0

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

Peyton Manning hasn’t looked like Peyton Manning in almost the entire last half of the season. I don’t know if there is some injury or something that we’re not being told about or maybe age is just finally catching up with him but something is affecting him. They last time these two teams played the Broncos came out on top, but not after an almost come back by the Colts. I think this week the Colts get the win and advance to the conference championship for the first time under the Luck Dynasty. I also think this last below average performance will make Manning to decide to retire.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

Like New England, I expect Denver to win big at home. Everyone is been waiting for a Broncos VS Patriots rematch.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Indianapolis Colts will win Indianapolis finally got center Khaled Holmes back. Holmes looked good against the Bengals in his first start back since the injury. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus is on injured reserve. Even if the Colts advance, I cannot see them winning the AFC without their star right tackle. Starting right guard Hugh Thornton is out as well. Lance Louis looked like he was capable of replacing him down-the-road.

Luck has 7 different receiving targets. Four wide receivers and 3 tight ends. You got T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, and Donte Moncrief at wide receiver. At tight end you got Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and Jack Doyle. There is good reason why he threw 4,761 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.

If Daniel "Boom" Herron can play like he did last week against the Bengals, then you have to like the Colts. Anthony Costanzo is playing like a man that deserves a new contract. Left guard Jack Mewhort continues to impress up front at left guard.

This 3-4 defensive line will stop the run. Arthur Jones at 3-4 right end, Josh Chapman at nose tackle, and Cory Redding at 3-4 left end are all healthy. D'quell Jackson had 140 total tackles at 3-4 middle linebacker and Jerrell Freeman had 90 tackles at 3-4 middle linebacker. Denver will not be able to run.

Bjorn Werner and Erik Walden had 10 sacks combined as Werner only had 4 sacks while Walden posted 6 sacks. Both 3-4 outside linebackers are better at stopping the run.

Greg Toler is a boundary corner at best, but a few years ago you would have said he was a nickel corner. Toler has finally gelled with the Colts and looks like a decent starting corner. Vontae Davis is a #2 corner as well. While he leads the secondary in interceptions with 4, he plays like a #2 corner at times. When lined up as a #1 corner he gets picked apart against vastly superior receivers whether it be Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, or Antonio Brown. The Colts were lucky A.J. Green was out.

If this game is tied and the Colts have the ball last, the Colts will be in the AFC Title. Adam Vinatieri can kick a game-winning field goal. If Luck plays turnover free football, the Colts should win. Indianapolis has come a long way since Luck was drafted.

Why the Denver Broncos will win Peyton Manning's numbers are exactly identical to Luck's. Manning has 4,727 passing yards, 39 passing touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.

Manning has his offensive line that helped him get off to such a dominant start back at full health. Ryan Clady at left tackle, Orlando Franklin at left guard, Manny Ramirez at center, Louis Vasquez at right guard, and Chris Clark at right tackle. The reason the Colts struggled down the stretch was due to the fact that Chris Clark was out at right tackle before returning to the lineup in week 17.

Manning has multiple targets to throw to as well. DeMaryius Thomas had 111 receptions, 1,619 receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders had 101 receptions, 1,404 receiving yards, and 9 receiving yards. Julius Thomas led the Broncos with 12 receiving touchdowns. This offense can score. Denver is 8-0 at home. Besides Green Bay, the Broncos are the only other home team that did not lose in the regular season.

DeMarcus Ware registered 10 sacks at right end. Von Miller posted 14 sacks and can line up at right outside linebacker or left outside linebacker. Sylvester Wiliams and Terrance Knighton can clog up the running lanes to stop this Colts interior offensive line. With Cherillus out at right tackle, the combination of Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson should give Luck less time in the pocket.

Denver should be at 100 percent. The only concern is strong safety T.J. Ward who missed week 17 with an injury. You have four cornerbacks in Aqib Talib at field cornerback, Chris Harris at boundary cornerback, Kayvon Webster at nickel cornerback, and Bradley Roby in the dime. Denver has the cornerbacks to take away these receivers. They also have Rahim Moore at free safety who is in a contract year.

Denver barely defeated a healthy Colts team in week 1. Now Denver is healthy and the Colts are banged up on the offensive line. That should be the difference in this contest.

Prediction: The Broncos are a 7 point favorite with the average gambler betting $280 dollars on Denver. I like Denver, but the Colts will cover the spread. Everyone assumes this game will be over cause of the offenses. This game will result in the under, but both teams will get at least 24 points.

Final Score Broncos 28 Colts 24

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