The 2011-2012 NFL playoffs continue this weekend with the Divisional playoffs kicking off in San Francisco, hosting their first postseason game since 2003. The New Orleans Saints, headed by the most prolific offense in the land, led by quarterback Drew Brees, looking for their first ever road win in the post season, are coming to town.
The Tim Tebow bandwagon will try and pull an either bigger upset this weekend by beating the New England Patriots and Tom Brady in Foxboro, Houston will try and get a ground game going against the fearsome Baltimore Ravens and the Green Bay Packers, champions and favorites for another Super Bowl visit, kick off their 2012 playoffs against the red hot New York Giants on the Frozen Tundra.
New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers @ Candlestick Park
Offense vs defense, but mostly the Saints versus their own history. Winning their first ever road game in the postseason has to come some time, and there’s only one way Sean Payton and Drew Brees know how.
What the Numbers Say – The Saints brought the most to the table on Wild card weekend with 626 yards of offense against the overwhelmed and outgunned Detroit Lions. The 49ers don’t have the tools the Lions have to compete with the Saints’ air attack, which also got them 167 yards on the ground. The 49ers allowed only 77 yards a game during the regular season, and got 42 sacks. The Saints are fantastic in protecting Drew Brees, one of the hardest QBs to sack in the NFL. The Saints allowed only 32 rushing yards against Detroit.
Gut Feeling – Saints. Their offense hit their best stride at the perfect timing, and Drew Brees is running the offense better than anyone else in the league right now. I’m always wary with teams after a Wild Card bye, especially one with plenty of faults. The 49ers are great defensively, but very average when it comes to scoring.
Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots @ Gillette Stadium
What the Numbers say – The Denver Broncos had 167 running yards in the first quarter against the Patriots on week 15. Denver lost that game 41-23 as Tim Tebow did everything his critics say he does. Against the Steelers, he did have a 10-21 throwing day, throwing for 316 yards and the winning touchdown on the first play of extra time. Denver did get 131 yards on the ground against the Steelers, but those came in 34 carries. The Patriots aren’t hard to throw against, but they won’t make the mistakes the Steelers made on Sunday.
Gut Feeling – Patriots. I’m not a great believer in Denver, but Tim Tebow and the game plan worked against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who played their part. The Patriots will let Tim Tebow try and beat them, like he failed to do at home earlier this season. Oh, and Tom Brady.
Houston Texas vs Baltimore Ravens @ MT&T Stadium
What the Numbers say – The Ravens went 8-0 at home this season, first undefeated home run in franchise history. The Texans won their first playoff game in history. The ground game will be the key, and the Ravens had the second best run defense in the league, allowing 92.6 yards a game. Arian Foster ran for 153 yards against the Bengals last week. Ravens have the best red zone defense in the NFL, while the Texans scored only 29 touchdowns in 69 trips.
Gut Feeling – Ravens. T.J. Yates will get eaten up, and Joe Flacco is good enough to handle the Texans defense.
New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers @ Lambeau Field
What the Numbers say – The Pakcers aren’t much of a running team, but the Giants allowed only 69 yards on the ground against the Falcons. The Giants made life difficult for Green Bay in the regular season before losing 38-35. The Packers give up big plays, but their high risk defense creates more interceptions than anyone, 31 during the regular season. The Giants sacked Matt Ryan twice but also deflected six of his passes. Aaron Rodgers is 2-0 in his career against the New York Giants.
Gut Feeling – Despite the Giants being the hottest thing in the land right now, Aaron Rodgers was incredible this season and he’ll survive the G-Men’s pass rush. Green Bay are the defending champions, and are just too good of a team to lose against a streaky one, as dangerous as they might be.