NFL Divisional Playoffs Picks

Posted: January 13, 2012 by vindanton in Pro Sports

(3) New Orleans Saints vs. (2) San Francisco 49ers: Saturday 4:30 FOX

Vin D’Anton: Defense wins championships, and unlike Gregg Williams’ fraudulent defense in New Orleans, the Niners actually have a great defense. Drew Brees’ outdoor stats are 9 TD’s to 6 INTs so go figure. Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory are not going to be able to go up the middle or break tackles against All-Pro’s like Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman and Justin Smith. Jim Harbaugh is going to take that this underdog stuff and run with it. Pick: 49ers  

Shaun Smith: This is a classic matchup of offense vs. defense. As much as everyone loves the Saints and how great Drew Brees is, the factors are in favor of San Fran. Historically the Saints haven’t been very good outside a dome and are traveling to the West Coast. Even though I don’t trust Alex Smith behind center, I feel we will get a defensive game from the 49ers. Pick: 49ers

Brandon Tuzio:  The Saints-Lions game last week was a tale of two halves. New Orleans could have easily scored of 60 points if they were firing on all cylinders in the first half. And I don’t really know what to expect from San Fran, which is how I’ve felt all year. P.S. Hey Preston, why do I have a vague memory of you in the St. Joes cafeteria when we were super young with a 49ers jacket, is that a real memory? If so that’s why I’m picking San Fran. Pick: 49ers

Preston Kennedy: This matchup I think is going to be one of the better games this weekend. The Saints, of course, have the offense that just goes right down the field and scores at will. With a weak defense they should be able to hold up against the 49ers dual threat, mostly Frank Gore, but it will be all about mistakes. The 49ers defense plays as good as they have all season and even though they have the home field I take the upset. Pick: 49ers

Nick Scerbo: This is a bit of a tough one to call, probably the hardest of the divisional games to predict.  The 49ers have an excellent defense and a good ball-control offense, but the Saints have a more explosive offense, a little more playoff experience, and a defense that may not be spectacular but won’t let them down.  If it was going to be cold, windy, or rainy in San Francisco I might go with the 49ers, but I think if the Saints were down four with 2 minutes left and had to go 80 yards to win, I’d think that Drew Brees could do it.  I can’t say the same for San Francisco. Pick: Saints

Glenn Schulz: The best total offense in the league vs. the best total defense in the NFC. As the old saying goes, something has got to give. I imagine the Saints will try and spread out the 49ers D to try and attack the weakest part of the 49ers D—the pass defense, which was ranked 16th in the league during the regular season. This plays right into the hands of the Saints offense, the best passing attack in the league during the regular season. The 49ers HAVE to get pressure up the middle on Brees who loves to slide up into the pocket when he throws. San Fran has 42 sacks during the season. As for the 49ers offense, have to get Frank Gore going early and often to keep the Saints on the sideline. As much as people like to say defense wins championships, in today’s NFL it seems as though it is the opposite. Although the saints are a different team out doors, I see Brees and the O being too much for the 49ers. It’ll be a close one. Pick: Saints

(4) Denver Broncos vs. (1) New England Patriots: Saturday 8:00 CBS

Vin: Who is bigger: Tim Tebow or Jesus? Just kidding. I’m not going to compare him to Rocky, but the Tebow story is bigger than the sport…but it ends Saturday. Belicheck and Brady haven’t won a playoff game since 2007 so they are due. While it is extremely possible for Denver to pull off the upset due to the lack of defense in New England, Brady won’t let it happen. Pick: Patriots

Shaun: Man, this Tebow phenomenon has to stop. It was funny at first but now it’s gotten old. New England is going to win, period. Pick: Patriots

Brandon: Well, I’m eating crow this week because exactly what I said wouldn’t happen, did. Even with that, New England will put up at least 31 points, and thats if Gronk can’t battle through his sudden, strange case of leprosy. Denver needs Von Miller to be productive and similar throws from Tebow that we saw in the first half against Pittsburgh. Preferably, clean, non-wobbly passes that is. Pick: Patriots

Preston: Tebow… AGAIN!?!?! I am growing to hate this guy more and more but he wins games and that is something you can’t take away from him. They beat a Steelers team who had a banged up Ben, no Mendenhall, and an old defense but are still the Steelers. Tebow threw for over 300 yards and he has the chance to do that again this week against one of the worst secondary’s in NFL history. But on the other side of the football you have Tom Brady. Its going to be about how the Broncos defense will be able to contain Brady and his passing attack. I don’t think Tebow can keep this magic going. Pick: Patriots

Nick: Ugh.  All logic says that the Patriots should win this one. Their biggest weakness (the pass defense) is somewhat nullified by the fact that the passing attack (the big play last week notwithstanding) is Denver’s biggest weakness.  But there is the Tebow intangible factor, as much as I hate to admit it.  Here’s the thing, though-New England’s defense is a bend-but-don’t break one; while they may have given up a lot of yards, they don’t do too badly on points.  Plus they are playing at home.  Pick: Patriots

Glenn: It really is hard to bet against Tebow magic anymore. However, I would be amiss if I started betting against Tom Brady. I see the Pats D, which is not very good, trying to take the long pass away from Tebow. As surprising as it may sound, the Pats are going to let Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee try and run the ball. The Pats D will allow Tebow the short throws and test his accuracy (unlike Pittsburh). If Denver effectively runs the ball, it will help keep Tom Brady on the sideline and give Denver a greater chance to win. Tom Brady was able to gash the Broncos secondary when they met in the regular season. He should be able to do that again, considering it looks as though Denver will once again be without their leader, Brian Dawkins. Champ Bailey needs to show that he is still a top CB in the game. If the Pats lead early, it’s over, but if Denver can run it, don’t be shocked if Tebow magic rises again. Pick: Patriots

(3) Houston Texans vs. (2) Baltimore Ravens: Sunday 1:00 CBS

Vin: Apologies to Houston for the disrespect, but that game was a toss up and the Bengals are young. That Texan defense led by Wade Phillips is fantastic, but even with Schaub, they lost at Baltimore earlier in the year. It will be a long day for T.J. Yates as he faces his toughest test to date…and at the worst possible time. Now, I am not the biggest Flacco fan in the world, but if the run is taken away from either offense (which I think both will) I trust him more. I’m sticking with my AFC Super Bowl pick. Pick: Ravens

Shaun: Oddly enough I feel this game will be the closest this weekend. Houston expectedly took care of a young Cincinnati team last week and their defense could handle Baltimore’s offensive attack. Here’s the problem, Baltimore is a typical NFL Jekyll and Hyde. One week they will dominate the Steelers and the next lose to Seattle. Which Ravens team will we see this weekend? More than likely we’ll see the better team at home garnering a perfect 8-0 record at home. I’ll take Baltimore but not confidently. Pick: Ravens

Brandon: Joe Flacco wants more credit for the Ravens success, and the defensive line usually gets it. On the other hand, Houston’s offensive line and Arian Foster are seeking playoff gold while T.J. Yates just vies to hang around. Basically, it’s a toss up and will be decided by a game-changer. Pick: Texans

Preston: What a win for the Texans franchise last week at home, in their first ever playoff game. They got lucky playing against a Bengals team with a rookie QB but I think that win just gave T.J. Yates big time confidence going into this week. The Ravens are a great team and with Joe Flacco as inconsistent as he has been I see the Ravens walking away with this one. It will be a close one but the Ravens defense and Ray Rice are too much for the Texans. Pick: Ravens

Nick: The Texans surprised me last week by blowing past the Bengals, but winning in Baltimore is an entirely different matter.  Baltimore hasn’t lost at home yet this year, and they beat the Texans 29-14 back before Zeus struck down the entire Houston quarterback cadre with thunderbolts.  To win, I think that the Texans will need to force a few turnovers, but I don’t think this is going to happen.  I’ll go so far as to call this the blowout of the weekend. Pick: Ravens

Glenn: This should be the smash mouth football game of the weekend. The two best defenses remaining in the AFC playoffs, maybe the entire playoffs, square off against each other. The Ravens, who seem to become too pass happy at times, have to try and establish Ray Rice early. Ravens—you have one of the best run blocking full backs in the entire National Football League in Vonta Leech, USE him. If Rice is able to get going, it will make the game easier for Joe Flacco, who has taken heat from the media about his up and down play this year. The same can be said for the Houston Texans who have Arian Foster. I should add, T.J.Yates did not seem at all phased by the bright lights of the playoffs last week against the Bengals. The team that effectively runs the ball and a quarterback, who does not turn the ball over will win this game. I have more trust in the experience. Pick: Ravens

(4) New York Giants vs. (1) Green Bay Packers: Sunday 4:30 FOX

Vin: This game isn’t as tough as people think, though the Giants have every right to win (and what a weekend it would be for the Mara family if they win and Rooney Mara wins a Golden Globe!). The fact of the matter is, is that Green Bay’s O-Line is healthy, the defense (who have the record for most pass yards allowed all time) are amazing are forcing turnovers. Oh yeah, their quarterback is Aaron Rodgers who wins the game by himself. Now, if the Giants have a fourth quarter lead and can run the ball, they might pull it off. But let’s be honest folks, would this many people be picking the Giants if they never made that run in ’07? I don’t think so.  All that is probably aggravating the Pack. Rodgers in two career games against Big Blue: 8 TD’s and 1 INT. My condolences to the Philbin family, who knows how that will affect the team. Rodgers pulls away in the fourth. Pick: Packers

Shaun: First off, it would not shock me if New York wins. They’re probably the hottest team entering the playoffs and could go into Lambeau and beat Aaron Rodgers. The only reason I’m not picking the Giants is because some guy named Aaron Rodgers. It’s going to be a shoot-out but in the end Green Bay will score the most points. Pick: Packers

Brandon: Kansas City. The Chiefs ending Green Bay’s undefeated run could possibly be the worst thing to happen to any team that faces the Packers in the playoffs. Or, it won’t matter because the Giants have some of the ’07 fire that they had towards the Pats. I really wish Tiki was still around…<lol>. Giants. Reason? Webster. Don’t ask how I know. Pick: Giants

Preston: This is the matchup of the weekend. A Giants team who have finally figured out who they are with a great pass rush and an equal use of the run and the pass. And what is Eli doing running that ball around? Its working for them and now they go up against the defending Super Bowl champions. With a weak secondary but an offense that hardly can be stopped the Packers looked all season like they were going to easily make it right back to the big one and win it all again. This is going to be a huge test just like it was earlier in the season when these two teams faced off. I’m going with the hotter team in this one. Pick: Giants

Nick: Now here is the tough one.  My heart says the Giants-they are the scrappy underdog on the road, they do have a decent running game now, and they do pressure the passer. If Eli Manning has the ball with a chance to win he’s a good bet to do it…but I can’t pick them this week.  Green Bay is very, very good, and very, very motivated.  I could see the Giants winning this game if they can steal a few big plays, but this feels like a repeat in terms of Super Bowl Champions. I see this one going tight to the wire in the 4th quarter before the Packers win by ten. Pick: Packers

Glenn: If this game is anything like the Week 13 matchup between these two than we are in for a treat. The underlining key for the Giants in this game is to get to Aaron Rodgers. If the defensive line is successful in doing so, than the Giants have a great shot at winning. If not, the Giants could be in for a long day. The Giants defensive line seems to finally be healthy and revamped after the shutout against the Falcons last week. However, the Packers are also healthier along their offensive line. Chad Clifton, who did not play in the Week 13 game, is back along with linebacker A.J. Hawk. Although the Packers D has been pretty bad all year, they have a ton of talent and Hawk can make a difference. I honestly think the game will be won in the trenches along the offensive and defensive fronts. If the Giants are able to get Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw going, it will open up a lot for Eli Manning against the 32nd ranked pass D in the regular season. If the Offensive line for the Packers is able to limit the Giants pass rush, Rodgers could have a field day. Green Bay was 15-1 during the regular season, they are the defending champions and they will be playing at home. However, I think this is the upset of the weekend. Pick: Giants


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