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Article:NFL Divisional Round Preview: Part 1

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The NFL Divisional Playoffs, one of the best weekends of the year. Two days chock full of pure football goodness. Not to mention, after it’s all over – we still have next week’s conference championships!

This preview will have two parts: Part 1 will deal with Saturday’s games, while Part 2 will deal with, yup; you guessed it – Sunday’s games.

Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers (Saturday 4:30 EST on FOX)

This is of course the first playoff rematch since the “We’re going to get the ball and we’re going to score” comment by Matt Hasselbeck in 2003. As we all know, Al Harris ended that game with a pick-six.

This time around the Packers are the NFC North champions, one of the hottest teams in the league and have the number two offense in the NFL. The Seahawks are the champions of a weak NFC West, but are coming off an emotional win in the wild card round and have some key veteran playoff experience.

As with most games, there are going to be many keys to this match up. One of which is Ryan Grant and if the playoff pressures will get to him. I’ve since been convinced that he’s a good running back (especially after taking Priest Holmes over him for my final FA pickup thus extending my fantasy losing streak) and I think he’ll continue his fantastic season in this game.

Another key is going to be whether or not Deion Branch plays. By all accounts, he should, but the question is going to be how healthy will he be on Saturday?

Also, don’t forget: This game is being played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Sorry Seahawks fans, but I’m going to have to take the Pack in this one. Get rid of that Shaun Alexander character and you should do much better next year.

Prediction: Green Bay 30 Seattle 24

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots (Saturday 8:00 EST on CBS)

This is another playoff rematch game. The last time the Jags and Pats met in the playoffs was during a Wild Card match up in 2005. It wasn’t much of a game, though, with the Patriots spanking the Jaguars 28-3 in Foxboro.

This time around the rosters are quite different. The Patriots have proved that they can have a functional rushing game when they need too, while the Jaguars rely on their 149.4 yards rushing average per game to make the game more manageable for quarterback David Garrard.

Like last week’s game, the success of Jacksonville’s rushing attack will be key on two fronts: One, they’ll win the time of possession battle (keeping the ball away from the explosive New England offense) and two, take a bit of pressure off of David Garrard who in his first playoff start last week, threw an uncharacteristic two interceptions.

A lot of people are predicting a Jacksonville upset, but I’m afraid I can’t do the same, although it should be a great game.

Prediction: New England 31 Jacksonville 24

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