The NFL Divisional Playoffs are here this weekend and since I’m clearly an ESPN Analyst here are my picks and thoughts:
Denver Broncos VS New England Patriots
Tebow effect? No way. I’m taking the Patriots here. Tom Brady and the Pats have a big weight on their shoulders. Their last playoff win was the AFC Championship game in 2007. They’ve played two since, both losses at home. They are definitely due. Tebow can keep it close, but it’s going to have to come from the long ball. Denver was able to rush for 167 yards in the FIRST QUARTER the last time these two teams met so you can expect Belichick’s defense won’t make that same mistake twice. I still expect Tebow to rush for just short of 100 yards, but Tom Brady, with Josh McDaniels behind him, will push the Patriots high octane offense to a strong victory. Rob Gronkowski plays a big part. PATRIOTS 38-24.
New Orleans Saints VS San Francisco 49ers
Drew Brees broke Dan Marino’s all time passing record this season. Brees arguably is leading the strongest team still standing into a showdown in Northern California. The Saints have one of the leagues best passing games, a strong rushing game to compliment it, and a shutdown defense. All these things and I’m still taking the 49ers. Yep, you read that right. San Fran gave up a mere 229 points this season (that’s 14.3 points per game). They surrendered roughly 308 yards per game, with only 77 of those yards on the ground. They also did not allow a rushing touchdown. This should make the Saints put the ball in the air more, but the Niners are number one in the league defending passes of 15+ yards. I think it’s time for the 49ers to prove they are relevant again. Beating Drew Brees and the Saints will do just that. San Francisco wins n in a shootout. 49ERS 34-31.
Houston Texans VS Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco has proved that he’s not just a random guy playing the QB position on a great defensive team. The Texans have a strong running game but haven’t they had a different QB every game this year? No, but really I don’t think that T.J. Yates is the answer to a Houston win on the road against a Ravens defense that just never seems to let up. For years they’ve been a team you don’t want to face. And now they’re playing their first home playoff game in years. Expect Baltimore to win, but this won’t be a very high scoring game. RAVENS 17-9.
New York Giants VS Green Bay Packers
I’m going out on a limb here and picking the Giants. They’re coming in with a lot of confidence after rolling into the playoffs and straight through the first round. Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham will come up big against an incredibly weak Packers defense. Green Bay can score, but they can also give up points like the worst of them. Eli Manning…I can’t believe I’m going to say this…Eli Manning will prove that he is an elite quarterback and pick apart the Packers D. Rodgers will do the same but the Giants will narrowly escape this one in Green Bay. GIANTS 44-42.