Predictions for all 4 playoff games this weekend

Posted at 1:28 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 22:05:46-05

Home teams went 0-4 in last weekend's Wild Card playoff round. Will the visiting teams have similar luck this weekend?

Here's a prediction for all four NFL Divisional Playoff games, which begin Saturday afternoon.

Chiefs at Patriots - Saturday, 2:35 p.m.

Kansas City wins if: Its defense makes life miserable for Tom Brady, the Chiefs’ running back by committee can churn out enough yards on the ground, and QB/game manager Alex Smith avoids turnovers.

New England wins if: Rob Gronkowski (knee injury) plays, Brady stays upright, and the injury-depleted backfield finds room to run.

Prediction: A healthy Patriots team would win this one, but the Chiefs are on a roll – especially on defense – and the defending Super Bowl champs might not have the horses on offense to overcome that. Chiefs 21, Patriots 20

Packers at Cardinals - Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

Green Bay wins if: Aaron Rodgers gets better protection from his offensive line (the Cards sacked Rodgers eight times in Week 16) and the Packers’ defense can force turnovers off Carson Palmer and/or David Johnson.

Arizona wins if: Palmer avoids early mistakes while emotions are running high, Johnson can take advantage of Green Bay’s weak rushing defense, and the D-line can pressure Rodgers into poor decisions.

Prediction: The Packers have enough skill and experience to pull off the upset, but the Cardinals are simply more talented on both sides of the ball. Cardinals 26, Packers 24

Seahawks at Panthers - Sunday, 11:05 a.m.

Seattle wins if: The running game (which may include Marshawn Lynch) can take pressure off Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom can force turnovers off Panthers QB Cam Newton.

Carolina wins if: Newton keeps drives alive with his feet, Jonathan Stewart can provide the Panthers with a respectable running game, and the Panthers’ fourth-ranked rushing defense makes Seattle one-dimensional.

Prediction: Seattle is counting its blessings after a last-second missed field goal in Minnesota allowed its playoff run to continue, and the loss of injured cornerback Charles Tillman will cost Carolina. Seahawks 34, Panthers 24

Steelers at Broncos - Sunday, 2:40 p.m.

Pittsburgh wins if: Injured QB Ben Roethlisberger plays and is healthy enough to make accurate downfield throws, the Steelers put together a respectable run game without injured RB DeAngelo Williams, and the defense can pick off Peyton Manning at least twice.

Denver wins if: The old Manning returns on to action and the defense shuts down the Steelers’ passing game, which will be without star wideout Antonio Brown.

Prediction: The Steelers’ injury problems just keep mounting, and the Broncos are at home. Denver advances to the AFC title game by default. Broncos 24, Steelers 17