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NFL picks 2020, Divisional Round: The Seahawks-Packers clash is the hardest to call this weekend

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The Seahawks have only lost one game on the road this season. The Packers have only lost once at home.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

And then there were eight.

The Texans, Titans, Vikings, and Seahawks all moved on in the NFL playoff bracket with wins on Wild Card Weekend. Houston and Seattle were popular picks among our experts, but the upset victories for Minnesota and Tennessee took most of the panel by surprise. Only three picked the Titans to dethrone the Patriots, and no one thought the Vikings would beat the Saints.

It was an exciting weekend of games. All four matchups were decided by one score and two went to overtime. But now those four victorious teams face even bigger tests in the Divisional Round,

Even if our experts aren’t expecting another set of nail-biters this weekend, at least there’s one game that has the panel split and should provide a dose of playoff fireworks.

The Seahawks’ road warrior act makes them a scary matchup for the Packers

CenturyLink Field in Seattle has long been considered one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play. Strangely enough, the Seahawks have been better on the road during the 2019 season than they’ve been at home.

They lost just one road game during the regular season and started their postseason by traveling to Philadelphia and beating the Eagles. Seattle will have to continue its road success at Lambeau Field to move on to the NFC Championship Game.

The Eagles were the only team that managed to beat the Packers in Green Bay this season, and that happened way back in September. Playing in the bitter cold of January is a much more difficult challenge. That’s not a new scenario for the Seahawks, or Russell Wilson, though.

Green Bay finished its first season under new head coach Matt LaFleur with a 13-3 record, the team’s best mark since 2011. However, the Packers ended up ranked just 18th in total offense and 18th in total defense.

Still, an opportunity to get healthy last week could mean the Packers are primed to be their best selves against the Seahawks. Meanwhile, Seattle is a little banged up. It’s crossing its fingers that important players like Duane Brown and Ezekiel Ansah will be able to contribute.

There’s also recent history of close battles between these two teams. There was the Fail Mary, as well as a meeting in the NFC title game five years ago that was decided in overtime. The Packers led, 19-7, with just three minutes left, but the Seahawks scored two touchdowns in less than a minute, thanks to some Marshawn Lynch heroics.

Six of our experts are picking the Packers to defend their home turf and get back to the NFC Championship Game. Four think the Seahawks can continue their hot streak away from home.

The other three games aren’t even close to 50-50.

It’s hard to pick against the 49ers, Ravens, and Chiefs

San Francisco earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and finished top five in both total offense and defense. Even if the Vikings’ upset of the Saints was impressive — and helped shake the narrative that Kirk Cousins can’t win a big game — it’ll take an even greater effort to beat the 49ers.

At least this time, one of our experts, Eric Thompson, is picking Minnesota. That makes sense, considering Thompson is a manager at our Vikings blog, The Daily Norseman.

Everyone but James Brady is picking the Chiefs to beat the Texans, and our entire crew thinks the Ravens will beat the Titans. Kansas City dealt with injuries early in the season, but ended the year on a six-game winning streak that vaulted it into position for a first-round bye.

While Houston beat the Bills in overtime, it now has to contend with reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Texans beat the Chiefs earlier in the year — and Deshaun Watson is always capable of magic — but it’ll take a lot to get another win at Arrowhead Stadium against a healthier Mahomes and company.

Tennessee has to deal with the soon-to-be-crowned MVP, Lamar Jackson, and a Baltimore team that’s won 12 games in a row. Our panel doesn’t believe an upset is on the way.

Welcome back to our Good Dog of the Divisional Round: Blue

For the playoffs, we’re bringing back our most successful dogs of the year, and Blue earned his spot by posting an 11-5 record way back in Week 2.

Blue is once again picking teams based on mascots he’d most like to be friends with. It was a tough week with only bird and human mascots remaining (he likes to chase the former and often distrusts the latter). Conveniently, his picks mostly ended up along betting lines. The only upset is a mild one: the Seahawks are four-point underdogs in Green Bay.

By the way, that face he’s making is his reaction to the Patriots fans who trashed his regular-season picks. This dog doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of sheep, nor Wild Card Round losers.

Divisional Round picks

Here are all our picks for the second round of NFL postseason action, although they’re subject to change by Friday if injury news changes any minds. Our guest picker is the aforementioned Eric Thompson, who went 12-2 when he was on the panel back in Week 11.

Divisional Round picks

Games James Brady Christian D'Andrea Sarah Hardy Morgan Moriarty Geoff Schwartz Adam Stites Stephen White Eric Thompson Blue the Good Dog Fooch
Games James Brady Christian D'Andrea Sarah Hardy Morgan Moriarty Geoff Schwartz Adam Stites Stephen White Eric Thompson Blue the Good Dog Fooch
MIN vs. SF SF SF SF SF SF SF SF MIN SF SF
TEN vs. BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL
HOU vs. KC HOU KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC
SEA vs. GB GB GB GB SEA GB SEA GB SEA SEA GB
Season record 163-97 173-87 154-106 164-96 155-105 152-108 149-111 164-95 142-118 152-108