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NFL preview capsules — Divisional playoffs

Saints at Seahawks

Time: 4:35 p.m. today.

Line: Seahawks by 8.

The skinny: The Saints exorcised a demon by winning their first road playoff game in franchise history (0-5 previously) last week. They have an even greater challenge this weekend in the Emerald City against the Seahawks and their 12th Man. New Orleans suffered its worst loss of the season, a 34-7 shelling at Seattle on Monday Night Football in Week 13. It was the Saints’ lowest offensive output since October 2008. This is also a rematch of a memorable wild-card playoff game three years ago, when the 7-9 Seahawks stunned the Saints in Seattle. I’ve backed the Seahawks most of the year, and for good reason: a 7-1 mark against the spread at home and they’ve won 15 of their past 16 there. But I think Drew Brees and the offense will do enough to cover the spread. Seattle wins 27-23.

The pick: Saints.

Colts at Patriots

Time: 8:15 p.m. today.

Line: Patriots by 7½.

The skinny: I’m still in awe of the Colts’ 28-point comeback against Kansas City last weekend. I thought when the Chiefs kicked a field goal to get to 41 points, they’d stay clear of Indianapolis. But Colts quarterback Andrew Luck seemed like he became an honorary Blues Brother (“We’re on a mission from God”) and refused to let his team lose. But the Colts didn’t cover. Call it tough Luck. So how much of the comeback did Tom Brady see? “I didn’t watch one snap of Indy’s offense,” Brady said, “nor will I this week.” So much for a battle between a veteran quarterback and a youngster quarterback. I’m not even sure who the Patriots have on their roster that is healthy, but they still have Bill Belichick and Brady, who is 17-7 in the postseason. The Patriots will make their eighth AFC title game in the last 13 seasons with a 30-20 win.

The pick: Patriots.

— John Boell, Newsday


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