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Prisco's Picks: Week 19

 
 
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WEEK
19
PETE PRISCO
Senior NFL Columnist
Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and can be seen throughout the week on CBS Sports' NFL shows. When he's not watching game tape you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
MATCHUP SCORE ANALYSIS
Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014
 
New Orleans
Saints
24
I was really tempted to pick the Saints here, despite the 34-7 beating they took in Seattle in early December. I like what they did at Philadelphia last week. They ran the ball to take some heat off Drew Brees. That's tough to do against Seattle, so I think this one will be on the right arm of Brees. That means protection has to be key. In the last meeting, the Seahawks forced a Brees fumble that they scooped and turned into a touchdown. That can't happen here. Seattle feeds off that. I expect more shots down the field this time from Brees. The problem is I just don't think the Saints will be able to slow the Seattle offense. That means more points than most would expect. In the first meeting, Russell Wilson threw for over 300 yards. He won't get that this time, but it will be close. I think Wilson will make a play late to win it.
Result: Seattle Seahawks 23, New Orleans Saints 15
Seattle
Seahawks
27
 
 
Indianapolis
Colts
27
This is the new kid in Andrew Luck trying to get past the decorated veteran in Tom Brady. I look for both of them to have success here. The Patriots finished 26th in third-down defense and the Colts were 20th in total defense. Quarterbacks like these two love those numbers. The Colts are riding high after rallying from 28 down to beat the Chiefs, but I look for Bill Belichick to come up with something to take away T.Y. Hilton, who had a big day last week. In the end, the veteran with the rings will outduel the young kid trying to get one.
Result: New England Patriots 43, Indianapolis Colts 22
New England
Patriots
31
 
Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014
 
San Francisco
49ers
13
Playing back-to-back road games is tough enough in the regular season, but playing the second one on the opposite coast in the playoffs is really tough. That's what the 49ers are doing this week. Carolina is rested after its bye. Carolina beat the 49ers earlier this year in San Francisco 10-9 in a defensive struggle. They did a great job on Colin Kaepernick that day, limiting him to 107 yards of total offense. I don't see that happening again with Michael Crabtree back. But the Panthers can beat you up with their defensive front. So can the 49ers. That's why I see a low-scoring game with Cam Newton making a big play late with his legs to set up the Panthers for a game-winning field goal.
Result: Carolina Panthers 10, San Francisco 49ers 23
Carolina
Panthers
16
 
 
San Diego
Chargers
20
The Chargers, coming off their impressive road victory at Cincinnati, are gaining steam as the chic "hot" team. That will end here. The Chargers came into Denver and beat the Broncos in Week 13, but this Denver team is rested. That one looked lifeless. The Chargers had a good plan to slow down Peyton Manning last time, using six defensive backs and playing safety Eric Weddle like a linebacker at times. But you can't fool Manning twice. I see him lighting up the Chargers, who were 29th in pass defense. San Diego ran the ball well on the edges the last time, and I expect them to do more of that here. But when you get into a shootout with Manning, which didn't happen last time, you can't rely on the run. Philip Rivers will try and keep up, but this is Manning's first playoff victory as a Bronco.
Result: Denver Broncos 24, San Diego Chargers 17
Denver
Broncos
35
 
 
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