NFL playoffs outlook
Baltimore at Denver
Time/TV: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS
Ravens report: The Ravens (11-6) are fresh from a decisive victory over the Colts in a wild-card game. Now they are faced with trying to find a way to beat a Broncos team that manhandled them in Baltimore less than a month ago. It's going to take more than riding the emotion of middle linebacker Ray Lewis announcing before the playoffs that he'll retire at season's end.
Broncos report: The Broncos (13-3) are in the midst of an 11-game win streak -- all by at least seven points -- and they are 7-1 at home this season. This marks the first playoff game as a Bronco for quarterback Peyton Manning, who appeared in 19 for the Colts from 1998-2010. Besides Manning, this year's Broncos team is better equipped for a deep run in the playoffs because of a better defense.
Bottom line: The Broncos are well-rested, at home and a better all-around team than the Ravens. The Ravens defense is good, but it's not good enough to shut down Manning. Broncos cruise to a 31-10 victory.
seattle at atlanta
Time/TV: 10 a.m. Sunday, FOX
Seahawks report: The Seahawks (12-5) no longer are a team that is dominant at home (8-0) and suspect on the road. They have won their past three road games, including an impressive come-from-behind performance against the Redskins in a wild-card game last Sunday. A six-game win streak, strong play by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch and a stout defense make the Seahawks the team no one wants to play.
Falcons report: The Falcons (13-3) went one-and-out in their past three playoff appearances. They realize that few will consider them legitimate Super Bowl contenders until they give people a reason to believe. For the Falcons to succeed in the playoffs, they'll need running back Michael Turner to be far more productive than he was in the regular season and find a way to contain Wilson.
Bottom line: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has his players believing they can beat any team in the league. The Falcons become the latest team to learn just how good the Seahawks are in a 24-17 loss.
houston at new england
Time/TV: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Texans report: The Texans (13-4) righted their listing ship somewhat with a wild-card victory over the Bengals. However, that earned them another game in Foxborough, where they got blasted by the Patriots in early December. Quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster, wide receiver Andre Johnson and defensive end J.J. Watt need to play at their best for the Texans to have a decent shot of winning.
Patriots report: The Patriots (12-4) won nine of their final 10 games -- the lone loss came against the 49ers -- and are as healthy as any team in the playoffs. Quarterback Tom Brady is playing at an MVP level and seeking his 17th postseason victory. The league's top-ranked offensive attack rarely has an off day, even against a defense as solid as the Texans'.
Bottom line: Patriots coach Bill Belichick is tough to game plan against on a normal basis. Give him two weeks to prepare for a game, and it's almost impossible to succeed. The Patriots show the first meeting wasn't a fluke by dominating the Texans 31-14.
-- STEVE CORKRAN