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NFL's wild card weekend

December 30, 2013 - Mike Donahey

The National Football League's regular season concluded Sunday, setting the stage for the first round of the playoffs, also known as “wild card weekend.”

Here are the National Football Conference games with predictions: Saturday - Number 6 seed New Orleans (11-5) at number 3 Philadelphia (10-6). I’m picking the Eagles by a slim margin. Why? The Eagles will be playing at home, and riding the momentum from their emotional win in Dallas.

Sunday - No. 5 San Francisco (12-4) at number 4 Green Bay (8-7-1). The Packers, like the Eagles, won a divisional title on the road, by beating the Bears. The 49ers have played well against Green Bay — beating them in the first round of the playoffs last season and the first regular game this season. Critical for Green Bay will be return of defensive stalwart Clay Matthews, who sat out Chicago game with fractured thumb. I think Matthews will play. But Matthews, the skilled Aaron Rodgers and Lambeau Field magic will not be enough to beat a solid San Francisco team.

American Football Conference games with predictions: Saturday - Number 5 seed Kansas City (11-5) at number 4 Indianapolis (11-5). Andrew Luck and Indianapolis’s home field advantage will be too much for the Chiefs.

Sunday - Number 6 seed San Diego (9-7) at number 3 Cincinnati (11-5). The Chargers secured the AFC’s last playoff spot and appear to have a hot hand. The Bengals have made the playoffs three consecutive seasons, but my gut feeling says the Chargers will prevail.

Earning bye weeks in the NFC were number one seed Seattle (13-3) and and number two Carolina (12-4). In the AFC, number one Denver (13-3) and number two New England (12-4).

The divisional rounds are Jan. 11 and 12, followed by the Conference Championships Jan. 19.

The Super Bowl is Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. on Fox, unfortunately. I’m predicating a San Francisco vs. Denver match-up.

Closing thoughts: If talking equaled winning, then Jerry Jones' Dallas Cowboys and Rex Ryan's New York Jets would be undefeated.



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