NFL playoffs: Divisional matchups breakdown
Baltimore (4) at Denver (1)
WHEN: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., CBS
LINE: Broncos -10, O/U 46.5
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Baltimore is riding the wave of Ray Lewis’ retirement announcement, hoping for a magical run through the postseason before he steps away from the game. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning makes his Broncos playoff debut as a big-time favorite.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver — The Broncos’
6-foot-3 speedster didn’t get much play in the Tim Tebow-led Denver passing game, but he’s been a big time target for Manning. He had 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season.
WHO WINS: It’s tough to pick against a Denver team that has won 11 straight, including a 34-17 win at Baltimore in Week 15.
Green Bay (3) at San Francisco (2)
WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m., FOX
LINE: 49ers -3, O/U 45
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Packers bring a playoff-tested team into San Francisco on the heels of an easy win against the Vikings and Adrian Peterson. They’ll have to shut down another top back, Frank Gore, if they want to advance to the NFC title game. The Niners are putting all their eggs in the Colin Kaepernick basket, even though Alex Smith got them to the title game last season. There’s no question Kaepernick is more impressive physically, but he’s never been on a stage nearly this big.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Randy Moss, WR, San Francisco — It’s easy to forget Moss, the future Hall of Famer, is still on the Niners. He’s been remarkably quiet this season, both on-field and off. If Kaepernick is going to lead his team to a win, he might need a big play from Moss.
WHO WINS: Experience should trump youth in the postseason, which means good things for Aaron Rodgers and the Pack.
Seattle (5) at Atlanta (1)
WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX
LINE: Falcons -3, O/U 46
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: It’s hard to believe Matt Ryan has yet to win a game in the postseason (0-3). He has a tremendous chance to break that streak against an outgunned Seahawks team. But you’ll notice a surprisingly tight spread thanks to the Russell Wilson hype machine. The rookie QB has been magnificent, including a six-game winning streak where he’s thrown 10 TDs and two INTs.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Akeem Dent, LB, Falcons — Dent is important for two reasons. He’ll be the spy on Wilson to keep him from taking off, and he’ll be crucial in tackling hard-charging back Marshawn Lynch.
WHO WINS: It’s hard to believe Ryan can go to 0-4 in playoff games, especially with this one at home.
Houston (3) at New England (2)
WHEN: Sunday, 4:30 p.m., CBS
LINE: Patriots -10, O/U 48
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: It’s been seven years since Tom Brady hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and yet they are still heavy favorites against a Texans squad that started the season 11-1. Since then they’ve gone 3-2, including a narrow win against the Bengals last week.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: J.J. Watt, DE, Texans — You may know Watt as a pass swatter extraordinaire, but he’s also got one heck of a pass rush. From the last two Patriots Super Bowl losses, we know the best way to beat Brady is to pressure him repeatedly.
WHO WINS: Not many think Houston can win after losing 42-17 at Foxboro Week 14 — us included.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.