New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers – This game was brilliantly broken down by my fellow ManCaver this week, so Ill be brief. Much has been made about the how this game will not be played on the fast track FieldTurf Drew Brees & Co. are accustomed to playing on. Considering that they average 25.8 PPG on grass surfaces, Im not sure if thats going to be the real issue. 26 points will win the game against San Francisco. However, the Saints’ unstoppable scoring machine goes travels face an NFC West opponent with a tough defense and a physical running back. Does this sound eerily familiar? If not, take a look at this clip from the last time New Orleans took a trip to the Wild Wild west in the postseason.
All year I have called San Fran a one and done playoff team. Playoff inexperience, no sure fire way to put points on the board, and a NFC West schedule that all but guarantees 6 wins. Their defense is intense, but they havent faced an offense like New Orleans. The Harbaughs are good in the playoffs, but I must stick to my guns.
Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens – This game will be closer than people think. And when I say close, I mean the Houston Texans are about to get hammered. Not necessarily on the scoreboard, but the game will not be as close as the score may suggest. The Ravens won the regular season matchup at Baltimore by 15, and I expect the margin of victory to be less, but this is the playoff Ravens. The same Ravens that not too long ago beat the brakes off of everyone’s favorite Patriot team in Foxboro. Add the fact that the Texans are 3-3 against opponents with a record of .500 and above, two of those wins against the Falcons and the Bengals (cough, cough, fraudulent), and you’re looking at a long day for Houston.
The only way I see Houston pulling this game out is if they a.) match the intensity and physicality for four quarters b.) keep T.J Yates clean and c.) make Ray Lewis go east and west and not north and south.
New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers – With human trafficking being such a problem in this day and age, its no wonder why so many football fans are currently slaves of the moment. The Giants are peaking at the right time and playing with a high level of confidence, but we’ve seen this Giants team before after Week 4 when they improved to 3-1. We saw this team after the Week 9 Patriots win. We saw this after both wins over the Cowboys, and even after a loss in Green Bay. This is the mark of an inconsistent team, and inconsistent teams dont eliminate defending Super Bowl champs. The glimmer of hope that will keep the Giants’ upset hopes alive rests on the shoulders on their defensive line, which needs to play out of their minds to make up for that god awful secondary of theirs.
Green Bay needs to get better play from their defense this postseason, and as long as that offense doesnt lay a Kansas City egg, they should get ready to for the NFC Championship game.
Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots- Last week Denver pulled off the upset of the year by ousting last years AFC Champions. Now they go to Foxboro and face a team that beat them soundly in the regular season. The good thing about last week’s is that the Patriots have to play Tim Tebow honest, which will do one of two things: open up big passing lanes or keep a man out of the box to defend their Broncos’ dangerous rushing attack. Couple that with a wishy washy Patriot defense, and I see another big game for Tim Tebow.The Bronco defense, on the other hand, is coming off a game where they gave up 23 points to a hobbled Roethlisberger and a Mendenhall-less Steeler offense. This isn’t surprising considering how anemic their defense has been this entire year, which will be what could ultimately cost them this game. Tom Brady can still methodically march down the field and put up 40 points a game. Denver has no answer for Gronkowski, and if this turns to be a shootout, Id put my money on the Pats.
History has shown us that the Patriots havent won a playoff game since the AFC Championship in 2007. And all the pressure is on the Patriots to win. Does that count for something? Absolutely. This game goes down to the wire and (big breath) Tebow finds a way to pull it out again.