Most people might not know this BUT there was more than one game this past weekend. All this Tebow madness has made people forget that ever other game was interesting in its own way. We’ll start at the beginning:
I had convinced myself that a rookie QB could lead his team on the road but a history has shown, it’s not a good idea to lean on inexperience in the postseason. The Texans used what is always said to be the key in the playoffs: defense and running game. Even though I think this is a passing league, a strong running game and a defense than can makes stops will get you wins in the playoffs. On the other hand, the Saints-Lions game was kind of weird to me. I thought the Lions killed themselves when they dropped obvious interceptions. I don’t know if they wouldn’t have beaten the Saints in the end but Detroit certainly didn’t give themselves the opportunity to do so.
Sunday’s games were complete opposite. I had a strong feeling the Falcons would be exposed but damn, that was a terrible showing by the Falcons. From the beginning of the game they just looked completely out of sync. Maybe it was the outdoor stadium, maybe it was the Giants pass rush or maybe the lack of fourth-down conversions sucked the life out of the team. Whatever it was, the Giants are firing on all cylinders. Last but not least…Tebow! What a performance, huh? A hobbled Steelers team went into Denver and just had to stand and watch as Tim Tebow magic took over the game.
Here’s the golden rule for round 2: Don’t get too caught up in what happens in round 1. There’s a reason those teams didn’t have a first round bye.
-New Orleans Saints (-4) AT San Francisco 49ers-
The most interesting game of the week comes first. Maybe Bryan can confirm this for me but I’m pretty sure Niners nation is tired of hearing about this Drew Brees guy. Yes, he’s breaking records but none of those massive numbers have come on the road. The Saints points per game drops from 41.6 at home to 27.1 on the road. I’m not even a number guys but that’s pretty crazy. Add the fact that this isn’t a dome where New Orleans is more comfortable. Here’s my biggest point: put the teams side-by-side and the Saints have an advantages at quarterback and receiver. That’s it. Maybe a slight edge at head coach but other than that, San Francisco is the superior team. Throw in some “no one believes in us” and you have a recipe for success.
My prediction 49ers- 27 Saints-21
-Denver Broncos AT New England Patriots (-13.5)-
The Tebow train heads into a cold night in New England. We saw happened between these two teams last time. The Broncos got off to a hot start but eventually the experience and execution of Brady and co. took over the game. That wasn’t without a little help from Denver’s early turnovers though. I can talk all day about how much magic Tebow can create and how he can rally his team and so forth. Truth is the Denver defense can’t contain all of the Patriots’ offensive weapons. Last time they contained Gronkowski and Welker but it was Hernandez who burned them. Now it’s the Broncos turn to go on the road and deal with the hostile environment. Everyone remember last season’s playoffs when the Seahawks upset the Saints at home. What happened to them when they went on the road the next weekend? I can’t help but see a similar situation with the Broncos.
My prediction: Patriots- 37 Broncos- 17
-Houston Texans AT Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)-
The most match-up heavy game (if that makes any sense) of the four. Last time these two teams played it was in Baltimore and the Ravens were able to handily beat the Texans. Both teams were going through injuries the previous game and now only the Ravens are fully healthy. The Texans were able to both Flacco for most of the game BUT when they didn’t put pressure on him; Flacco torched them with big plays. It’s going to be hard for Houston to run against Baltimore’s excellent run defense. The Texans will have to rely on T.J. Yates making big plays. Yes, they have Andre Johnson back but other than him, where is the rest of the offense going to come from? Don’t forget that the Ravens are an excellent home team. I think you’ll have to see a severe lack of Ray Rice along with a Flacco meltdown (possible but not probable) for the Ravens to lose this game.
My prediction: Ravens- 24 Texans-13
-New York Giants AT Green Bay Packers (-7.5)-
I’m not seeing shades of 2007 in this Giants team. This team certainly has the weapons to keep up with Aaron Rodgers’ and the Packers. They proved it in the last time these two teams met, the Giants only lost by a game-winning field goal. Here’s my problem: the Giants will have to effectively pressure Rodgers into a turnover and keep their own QB Manning from committing mistakes at the same time. Don’t forget, this game will be on the road against a well-rested Packers team. There’s a reason this team only lost one game during the regular season. I think the Giants can surprise the Packers early and maybe take a lead but eventually Rodgers will find his receivers and put up stats. I think it’s going to be closer than most people think but I think it’s just too much for New York to handle.
My prediction: Packers- 34 Giants- 30