It’s that time of the year when I turn to my sports broadcasting friends to seek out their NFL playoff picks. As a person who is currently tied for first place in my own NFL picks contest, I’d like to think I can hold my own with these folks, but only time will tell.
Rich DeMarco, Army football, basketball play-by-play voice
Denver 34, Baltimore 17 – While Peyton Manning will go for his usual 300 yards and 2 TDs, the key will be the Broncos defense containing the Ravens offense.
Green Bay 27, San Francisco 13 – Tough to picture Aaron Rodgers losing to Colin Kaepernick in a playoff game, even if it’s on the road.
Seattle 31, Atlanta 24 – Seattle is playing the all-around best of all the teams remaining in the playoffs, and it’s hard to pick Atlanta in any big game until they win one.
New England 45, Houston 17 – Cannot see this game going any differently than the regular season meeting.
Charlie Cornacchio, Cablevision sports anchor
Denver over Baltimore – The Ravens are not great on the road and Denver is riding an 11-game winning streak at home. The Broncos breakout running back/receiver, Moreno, got his opportunity and has been making the most out of it. He’ll get over 100 yards, giving Manning plenty of options to keep the Raven defense guessing. Factor in the brutal cold and its going to be a rough one for Baltimore.
Green Bay over San Francisco – This will probably be decided by a field goal, and while there is something to be said for home-field advantage, the Packers get all their receivers back and that, coupled with Aaron Rogers, means lots of targets, a multi-dimensional offense and a Green Bay win.
Seattle with a very slim win over Atlanta – This one comes down to how well the two best corners in the league cover two of the best wide outs. Seattle’s been playing well and believes it can win. When a team has that kind of belief and confidence, they become very dangerous. Matt Ryan is having a career year but hasn’t played against this good a defense. Should be a nail-biter.
New England over Houston – The Texans are 6-2 on the road. One of those losses was a thrashing when New England hammered them (42-14). Houston hasn’t been the same since. Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Welker … Oh My! Brady’s a competitive S.O.B. and thrives on this kind of postseason energy – he’ll get his 300-plus yards and 3 TDs.
Rick Schultz, former Hudson Valley Renegades radio play-by-play, baseball author
Denver over Baltimore; San Francisco over Green Bay; Seattle over Atlanta; New England over Houston.
Tony Morino, Army football sideline reporter, former Time Warner sports anchor
Denver over Baltimore – This isn’t the same Baltimore defense as years past, yet it seems to be vintage Peyton Manning. Denver advances.
Green Bay over San Francisco – I like a healthy Green Bay in this spot, and down the stretch Kaepernick was showing signs of struggle. Packers in a tight one.
Atlanta over Seattle – Tough task for the Seahawks to fly back and forth across the country two weeks in a row. Think the slipper falls off this week. Falcons pull away late.
New England over Houston – Only blowout of the weekend. Pats in a laugher.
Geoff Brault, Marist women’s basketball radio play-by-play, football radio analyst
Denver over Baltimore – You always take the QB in the
divisional round, right? Peyton…
Green Bay over San Francisco – Rodgers…
Atlanta over Seattle – Ryan…
Houston over New England – Not Brady!? I’ll go out on a limb for the upset. Boston media is calling this game a cakewalk – just read Arian Foster’s Twitter. The pick goes against every single piece of conventional wisdom out there, especially considering the beating New England laid on Houston earlier this year and how poorly the Texans finished the season, but sports wouldn’t be fun if they were played on paper.
Mike Ferraro, play-by-play and analyst on Marist sports radio network
Denver 31, Baltimore 21 – I’ll admit I’m a Broncos fan, and I love the way they’re playing right now. They’re playing solid team football, and it will be enough to advance.
Green Bay 35, San Francisco 21 – I’m not picking against Aaron Rodgers, especially when his cast of receivers is as healthy as it’s been all year. I’d feel better about picking the 49ers if Justin Smith was healthier, because their pass rush would be advantage against Green Bay’s offensive line.
Atlanta 27, Seattle 24 – I think this will end up being the best game of the weekend. The Seahawks seem to match up pretty well, but they also got banged up last week, and that could be the difference.
New England 38, Houston 24 – I’d like Houston’s chances if I was convinced that Matt Schaub would play well. But one touchdown pass and four interceptions in his last five games is making me think otherwise right now.
Freddie Coleman, ESPN Radio host, former Marist basketball radio analyst
Denver 31, Baltimore 20; Green Bay 28, San Francisco 20; Seattle 27, Atlanta 14; New England 38, Houston 17
Lindsay Liquori, sports anchor Ch. 9 Syracuse, former Time Warner sports anchor
Denver 27, Baltimore 14 – It’s so hard to go against Manning this season, especially in Mile High where they haven’t lost since late September.
Green Bay 28, San Francisco 21 – I’ll take the Packers on the road in San Fran. I feel the Packers are clicking, finally healthy and will just be too strong that Kapernick will struggle just enough for the Packers to get to the NFC Championship game.
Atlanta 30, Seattle 24 – I think Atlanta gets off the playoff slide this year against a very good Seahawks team. I can see Michael Turner having a great game on the ground which would open the pass game nicely. On the flip side I’m not sure Wilson can go into the loud George Dome and beat the #1 seed.
New England 35, Houston 21 – In a game which I think will be closer than people may think, I’ll take New England over Houston up in Foxboro. I think the Texans will play better than when the Pats dominated this matchup back in week 14. It’s just too hard to pick against Brady and Belichick in January at home.
J.W. Stewart, former anchor at ESPNews, Sports1
Denver 28, Baltimore 17 – Winners of 11 in a row, Denver is the hottest team in the NFL (haven’t lost since Oct. 7 vs. the Patriots). And Ray Lewis hasn’t beaten Peyton Manning since 2001. Manning and the Broncos put an end to Lewis’ career.
San Francisco 24, Green Bay 21 – Best game of the weekend … also the toughest one to call. Regardless of who plays quarterback for San Francisco, it’s the Niners’ defense that makes the difference.
Seattle 30, Atlanta 10 – Atlanta is 0-3 in the playoffs under coach Mike Smith and this will be another dud. Even without defensive end Chris Clemons (who led the team in sacks but is out with a torn ACL), the Seahawks will still generate a pass rush on Matt Ryan. And the Falcons can’t run the football.
New England 37, Houston 14 – This will be similar to the Monday night game last month, which started Houston’s late-season slide and cost the Texans the top seed in the AFC. Pats will get out to a big lead early, which will force the Texans to abandon the run. And it will set up Brady vs. Manning for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
Rob Adams, sports anchor at WGCH, former Mount Saint Mary men’s basketball radio announcer
Denver over Baltimore – Peyton Manning will end the career of Ray Lewis. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil will be too much for Joe Flacco to handle.
Green Bay over San Francisco – I think Green Bay is healthy and, even though they lack a running game, they still have Aaron Rodgers. Mr. Discount Double-Check will take care of business.
Atlanta over Seattle – The toughest game for me to pick. I changed my answer a couple of times. Marshawn Lynch certainly has been in “Beast Mode”, but it’s simply time for the Falcons to step to the next level.
New England over Houston – I’d love to go with the upset here, but what I saw last week against Cincinnati concerned me. Matt Schaub isn’t Tom Brady.
Ryan Asselta, sports anchor at Ch. 5 New York
Denver over Baltimore, Green Bay over San Francisco, Atlanta over Seattle, New England over Houston.
Rick Zolzer, sports anchor for WPDH-FM
Denver 28, Baltimore 17; Green Bay 31, San Francisco 27; Seattle 23, Atlanta 21; New England 42, Houston 21.
Kevin Halpenny, play-by-play radio announcer for Port Jervis/Delaware Valley
Denver over Baltimore; Green Bay over San Francisco; Seattle over Atlanta; New England over Houston.
Bram Weinstein, ESPN anchor
Denver 24, Baltimore 17; Green Bay 28, San Francisco 20; Atlanta 19, Seattle 17; New England 34, Houston 21.
Carl Garofolo, Hudson Valley Sports Talk host on WHVW-AM
Denver over Baltimore – The Ravens have the emotion, the Broncos have a healthy Peyton Manning. Ravens keep it close early and then the Broncos prevail at home. Ray Rice will need to run wild in order for the Ravens to pull off an upset.
San Francisco over Green Bay – The 49ers are due and they are at home. A much as it kills me to do this, San Fran with the win, unless Rodgers has a 3 to 4 TD. QB could be the difference in this one.
Seattle over Atlanta – The Falcons have been waiting a long time for a playoff win and they are home. Seahawks are the one team that they don’t need to see. Seahawks in an upset as they are red hot and have too many offensive weapons.
New England over Houston – When will the Texans beat the Pats? Not this week. The Texans have looked average since week 12 and played erratic down the stretch. Pats will prevail and home with experience in a closer game then the one during the season.
Russ Lande, Big Ten Network
Denver 24, Baltimore 13 – Denver’s offense is multi-faceted and has two big receivers who can make big plays with the ball in their hands and will be tough for Baltimore to slow down because Baltimore’s pass rush has been inconsistent this season. Additionally, Joe Flacco has not developed into a top tier QB and still struggles greatly with inconsistency. This will be even more of an issue while he is under constant pressure from Denver’s good defense.
Green Bay 34, San Francisco 31 – While I want to pick SF, I believe Green Bay will win this game. With San Francisco DE Justin Smith likely to not be 100% and OLB Aldon Smith seeming to be worn down after a long first season as a starter, the 49ers will struggle to stop Green Bay’s rushing attack and will not be able to pressure Rodgers consistently enough to slow down their passing attack.
Seattle 27, Atlanta 24 – Although I believe Atlanta to have more talent at the skill positions, Seattle’s ability to run the ball to control the clock and limit the offensive positions for the Falcons will allow Seattle to keep the game close throughout. Then late in the game the Seahawks rushing attack will allow them to control the ball after wearing down the Falcons’ defense, which will lead to Seattle winning.
New England 41, Houston 13 – The one game I believe will be a blowout as New England is going to rout the Texans. New England is not a great team, but the Texans have not been impressive the last month and won over the Bengals despite not playing an impressive game.
Jon Stashower, NBC Sports Radio Network; formerly ESPN Radio
Denver over Baltimore; Green Bay over San Francisco; Atlanta over Seattle; New England over Houston.
Tommy Tighe, Dial Global Sports Radio play-by-play announcer
Denver 24, Baltimore 17 – The Ray of sunshine dims for the Ravens. Baltimore’s Super Bowl hopes are nevermore.
Green Bay 21, San Francisco 13 – San Fran is not going to party like it was 1999.
Atlanta 28, Seattle 24 – It’s strictly for the birds, figuring the Falcons fly higher.
New England 42, Houston 24 – Remember the earlier meeting on a Monday. It’s the Texans Chainsaw Massacre, part deux.
Bill Rogan, former Hudson Valley Renegades and Army basketball announcer, Denver sports talk show host
Denver 31, Baltimore 13; New England 27, Houston 17; Green Bay 30, San Francisco 14; Seattle 38, Atlanta 24
Kevin Connors, ESPN anchor/host, former WTZA/RNN sports director
Denver 19, Baltimore 16; Green Bay 27, San Francisco 17; Atlanta 28, Seattle 20; New England 31, Houston 13.