Sorry for the similar picks this week, great minds think alike?
New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers (4:30 PM ET)
Andrew – New Orleans Saints. The thing about the 49ers is that their defense is so good at stopping the run, that it can make any team one dimensional…. unfortunately for them though, it’s not like that the Saints are known because of how well they run the ball. Yes, they ran extremely well against the Lions, and I believe that played a big part in their victory, but when you know that Drew Brees & company can score at any point, it makes stopping the run kind of trivial. That doesn’t mean this will be an easy win. The Saints run defense ranked 29th, giving up 5 yards a carry, a stat that Frank Gore is probably drooling over. I think the 49ers kind limped into the playoffs, but the bye week will definitely recharge their batteries. While the 49ers still might lose by the projected 4 points, I have a feel it won’t be until the last minutes of the game that the Saints steal the show.
Greg – New Orleans Saints. The Saints are one of the most offensively dangerous teams in the NFL, while the 49ers are one of the best (if not the best) defenses in the league. Harbaugh will have to use all his tricks to try and slow down this offense at all. I think he will be able to slow them down to around 25 points, but it won’t be enough. The 49ers offense is completely inept anytime it gets in the redzone. Their kicker set a record for points (beating Jerry Rice). That is not a stat a kicker should hold. The worst redzone efficiency in the NFL will not beat the best offense in the league.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (8:00 PM ET):
Andrew – New England. They just have to. Once again, this boils down to me hating how much people will panegyrize Tim Tebow if New England loses. I think the Patriots will come out in the defense that slowed Tebow in the second half of their first match up, and per usual, make the correct adjustments during half time (no one is better than Bill Belichick at this). The Broncos’ defense line could cause some issues by rattling Tom Brady, so I’m expecting him to be a little “off” at times during this game. But an “off” Tom Brady is still better than most NFL quarterbacks, so I don’t see this being too much of an issue. In the end, I expect another good game from Tebow as people forget that New England has the league’s worst secondary (historically, one of the worst of all time), but ultimately, New England’s offense will cause too many match up issues to be effectively contained.
Greg – New England. Playoff stash is out. Wear it like Wes!
Sunday, January 15
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (1:00 PM ET)
Andrew – Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens did well against Houston when they played earlier this year, and that was with Matt Schaub, so I don’t know how much better TJ Yates will fare in this match up. In general, I believe the Ravens’ defense isn’t nearly as good as their Superbowl winning team 12 years ago, but where the defense has slowed, the offense has improved, making them a much more balanced team. I think Houston’s defense will definitely cause some problems for the Ravens, and we could see a game similar to that Ravens/Jaguars game from earlier this year (that would be awful), but in the end the Ravens are playing at home, off a week of rest, so ultimately hold the advantage and keys for their own success. It would be pretty telling of the Ravens status as an elite team if Houston went up there and beat them though (and super interesting).
Greg – Baltimore Ravens. I could see the Ravens falling behind early, playing reactive to the Texans and not attacking. But that should end after the first quarter and the Ravens will right their ship on their way to the AFC Championship. The Ravens are 8-0 at home and should be able to take care of business. As always though, I worry about the Ravens due to their inconsistency the entire year. I think it should be a close game though, a late game turnover will prove costly by the Texans (probably Yates).
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (4:30 PM ET)
Andrew – Green Bay Packers. Hmm ok Giants, well done…but! Everyone knows that the Giants are solid at stopping the run, and also that Atlanta without the run seems to crumble. That’s not exactly a shot at Matt Ryan, I think he’s still a good quarterback, but maybe the scheme or coaching… or ok…maybe it is on Matt Ryan, I take that good QB thing back. Either way, this game, the pressure will be on New York’s secondary, and even if the Giant’s d-line gets to the quarterback, it doesn’t seem to phase Aaron Rodgers. My biggest concern here is the amount of time that has passed since Green Bay has played a meaningful game. Considering how close the last game was, if Green Bay comes out rusty or slow, this game could pass them by. I’m banking on Green Bay’s ability to score quickly and the Giant’s inconsistency to be the determining factors in this game, should be a good one though.
Greg – Green Bay. Pretty much the exact same situation the Giants put themselves through in 2007. Could we be headed to another Super Bowl repeat? No. No we are not. The Giants played a pretty weak team last week in the Falcons, and just destroyed them. Domination. Now they head into Lambeau Field against a rested Packers team out to repeat. I tried to go through scenarios where the Giants could win, and I just cannot convince myself of it. Yeah the Giants played them close when they played in the regular season, but I don’t see that happening twice. Should be a very interesting game though!