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Experts' Picks

SI.com's writers forecast this week's playoff games

Posted: Thursday January 12, 2006 12:04PM; Updated: Friday January 13, 2006 1:39PM
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Don Banks
The Skins' D makes Seattle work harder than it has had to in almost two months, but the 'Hawks still flash enough offense to end the NFL's longest playoff-win drought at 21 years.
Seattle 23, Washington 16
The Patriots run defense steps to the fore, and New England gets another clutch Adam Vinatieri game-winner to log its toughest playoff road victory of the Bill Belichick era.
New England 20, Denver 17
The Steelers give the Colts a much better game than they managed in late November at the RCA Dome, but the rest factor trumps the rust factor as Indy earns its second AFC title game berth in three years.
Indianapolis 27, Pittsburgh 17
The Bears gave up 75 points in their last four games after allowing just 68 in their previous eight contests. The Panthers will run the ball, protect Jake Delhomme better, and force Chicago into a turnover or two.
Carolina 17, Chicago 13

Jeffri Chadiha
Shaun Alexander wears down the Redskins' run defense with two touchdowns.
Seattle 20, Washington 7
Bill Belichick's defense baffles Jake Plummer.
New England 24, Denver 20
Peyton Manning torches suspect Steelers secondary.
Indianapolis 31, Pittsburgh 20
Bears defense terrorizes Jake Delhomme again.
Chicago 13, Carolina 10

Nunyo Demasio
The Redskins stun the skeptics as Gregg Williams earns his new record contract by stifling Seattle's high-powered offense.
Washington 13, Seattle 10
Mike Shanahan starts to shed his post-Elway baggage as the Snake outduels Tom Brady.
Denver 27, New England 20
The Steelers are forced to lose their identity trying to keep up with Manning and James.
Indianapolis 30, Pittsburgh 21
The poor man's Bill Belichick outFox's the Bears to increase his coaching credentials as Grossman performs not much better than Orton.
Carolina 10, Chicago 6

Peter King
Washington held serve on its homecourt earlier in the season. Shaun Alexander grinds out 109 tough yards and two scores to win a more important game.
Seattle 20, Washington 17
Isn't this the year of the road team in the playoffs? The Pats have Richard Seymour and Corey Dillon back after they missed the 28-20 Denver win three months ago, and that changes everything.
New England 24, Denver 23
The Colts haven't had to play for anything in a long time. But they're still good enough to hit the ground running in the playoffs. They'll play the Steeler run better than Cincinnati, by a lot.
Indianapolis 31, Pittsburgh 20
John Kasay propels the Panthers into the title game because these two defenses are just too good. Neither offense will breathe Sunday.
Carolina 9, Chicago 6

Michael Silver
Matt, Shaun and the boys overcome early jitters and bring the fans Alive (Pearl Jam style) ...
Seattle 28, Washington 13
Tom Brady off his back leg on fourth-and-goal? Vinatieri from 65 in the thin mountain air? Somehow, some way, the Pats will be Mile High.
New England 30, Denver 28
Remember back when the Colts were unstoppable? So do we.
Indianapolis 41, Pittsburgh 21
If John Fox and the Panthers liked messing with Eli Manning, they'll love making Rex Grossman's head spin.
Carolina 17, Chicago 16

Dr. Z
Too much rest, too much offense.
Seattle 27, Washington 20
Tedy Bruschi's return is crucial. He runs the defense.
New England 20, Denver 17
Where will the Steelers find enough points?
Indianapolis 34, Pittsburgh 24
If you're betting, go the other way, because I'm never right about the Panthers.
Chicago 17, Carolina 10