The NFL Playoffs are proving to be a busy time for me. I’m pounding away at the laptop on Thursday night, flipping between this NFL article, answering a couple of emails from my Baseball Hall of Fame column from earlier today (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds belong in the Hall of Fame), and watching the Cavs game in the background. If any of you ever figure out what I’m doing, do me a solid and shoot me an email.
Saturday, 4:30 pm EST
New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers
I know, I know. There’s Long grass at Candlestick Park. It’s an outdoor game. The Niners have the top ranked rushing defense in the NFL. The Saints defense is suspect. There are some pretty compelling arguments to pick the 49ers at home coming off of a bye week. It’s just that I don’t think any of them are good enough.
The Saints offense is stupidly efficient and Head Coach Sean Payton is no dummy. He knows the 49ers defense is #1 against the run. He also knows that their 16th ranked passing defense is better on paper than on the field because San Francisco hasn’t played any top flight offenses this season. (Unless you count the Giants as top flight, then you’re wrong.) New Orleans, on the other hand, has played six games against playoff opponents and two games against the offensively explosive Carolina Panthers. New Orleans went 7-1 in the regular season in those big games, and is 1-0 in the playoffs.
New Orleans is giving 3.5, and I think they beat a good, but untested San Francisco team going away.
Saints 31 – 49ers 21
Saturday, 8:00 pm EST
Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots
I promise this won’t be a Tebow blurb. Mostly.
He made some very good throws against a defense that completely took him for granted. New England Head Coach Bill Belichick isn’t going to let Tebow off that easily. The Pats offense isn’t great, but the Hoodie is a schemer on defense.
As for offense, with Tom Brady spreading the ball around to unstoppable tight ends and Wes Welker, that Denver defense is going to revert back to late regular season form. You know, when they gave up 30 points per game, including a game against these Patriots in which they allowed 41.
New England is giving 13.5 and what the hell? I’m taking the Patriots and the over (50). We’re all going to be back to planking by Sunday.
Patriots 37 – Broncos 21
Sunday, 1:00 pm EST
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens
T.J. Yates did a good job getting the Texans to the playoffs after Matt Shaub’s lisfranc injury and beating the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
OK, I’m done. Three touchdown passes in five games that include losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans isn’t the stat line of a guy that’s going to get a win in Baltimore against an elite Ravens defense.
Baltimore is giving 7.5, but Joe Flacco’s QB rating says that’s too many.
Ravens 21 – Texans 14
Sunday, 4:30 EST
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
The Clash of the titans! The game of the year! An electric showdown at Lambeau Field!
Or, a fun, offensive game that’s going to prove what we’ve known all year; the Packers wreck decent teams.
Green Bay’s defense is ranked dead last against the pass and 14th against the run. New York’s defense is 29th against the pass and 19th against the run. The sneaky stat in this game is Green Bay’s +24 turnover ratio (2nd in the NFL). They have 46 takeaways and only 17 giveaways. That’s the difference in this game, and likely the difference for the remainder of the playoffs.
Green Bay is giving 8.5, and I’ll take them. Reluctantly, but I keep seeing the Packers win by 10 instead of seven.
Packers 34 – Giants 24
Have MLB questions? Want to argue with me? Do you think there’s another week of Tebowmania to come?
Keep an eye out for the More Than a Fan Podcast Network. Ryan Isley (@isley23) and I will be talking everything from hoops to horse racing. Coming soon to a computer near you.
Stats: Pro Football Reference