New Orleans Saints (12-5) at Seattle Seahawks (13-3), 4:35 p.m.
The Skinny: The Saints overcame a huge hurdle last week when they finally won a road playoff game for the first time in franchise history. And that they did it outside in Philadelphia that dispelled any notion they are strictly a dome team. Still, Drew Brees has half as many touchdowns (13) and nearly four times as many interceptions on the road as he does at home (27-11). What’s more, the Seahawks won the regular-season meeting, 34-7, on Dec. 2 and, including that game have allowed a total of 52 points in their past five outings.
Prediction: Seahawks, 30-14
Indianapolis Colts (12-5) at New England Patriots (12-4), 8:15 p.m.
The Skinny: Tom Brady is accustomed to playoff matchups with the Colts, but usually against Peyton Manning. Now it’s against Andrew Luck, who never met a deficit he didn’t like. Luck engineered the second largest comeback in playoff history against the Chiefs and is willing to attack any defense, especially one as porous as the Patriots (26th in the NFL). That’s why it will be incumbent for the Patriots to score points – and lots of ‘em. Preventing points has been a problem for the Colts, who have allowed 38 or more in four of their past nine games.
Prediction: Patriots, 38-34
San Francisco 49ers (13-4) at Carolina Panthers (12-4), 1:05 p.m.
The Skinny: The 49ers have won seven in a row and haven’t allowed more than 20 points in any of those victories. But they lost to the Panthers during the regular season, 10-9, on Nov. 10. Only the Seahawks were stingier on defense than the Panthers, who ranked second in the league in points, total yards and rushing yards. However, this is the first playoff game for Cam Newton and he will have to outdo his counterpart and former combine roomie, Colin Kaepernick, who already has three playoff victories to his credit.
Prediction: 49ers, 19-13
San Diego Chargers (10-7) at Denver Broncos (13-3), 4:40 p.m.
The Skinny: The Chargers, as the No. 6 seed, are suddenly looking like the 2005 Steelers and the 2007 New York Giants. They are on an impressive roll after winning their final four regular-season games and going to Cincinnati and holding the Bengals, who had averaged 41.6 points in their previous five homes games, to 10 points. One of the victories during their five-game streak was in Denver on Dec. 12, a game in which the Chargers defense held the highest scoring team of the Super Bowl era to a season-low 20 points. It probably helps that Chargers Coach Mike McCoy was Peyton Manning’s offensive coordinator last season.
Prediction: Chargers, 27-24