Posted by Rick Laughland Posted on 12:45:00 PM with No comments
(1) New England vs. (4) Denver
Looks like Tim Tebow’s magic carpet ride will come to an abrupt halt at Gilette Stadium in Foxboro. The Broncos stunned the Steelers Wldcard Weekend as the Tebow phenomenon reached biblical proportions. Expect the Patriots high octane offense to overwhelm Denver ‘s stout defense as Tom Brady will play up-tempo and score early and often. New England will put Denver behind the eight ball and force Tebow to be one-dimensional, a recipe for disaster for the Broncos. Denver may hang in contention, but Bill Belichick and Brady will earn their first playoff win since 2007.
Prediction: Patriots 31 Broncos 20
(2) Baltimore vs. (3) Houston
For the first time under head coach John Harbough, the Baltimore Ravens will host a home playoff game in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens were a perfect 8-0 this season and 15-1 over the past two years with their only loss coming at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that knocked them out of postseason contention two times over the last three seasons. With the Steel City gang bounced on Wildcard Weekend , the Ravens are chomping at the bit to make a serious Super Bowl push. Expect the Ravens defense to engulf Texans quarterback T.J. Yates by keeping him on his heels in the pocket and hurrying his throws. The clock will strike midnight on Houston’s Cinderella story as Joe Flacco, Ray rice, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will provide too much firepower for the Texans to overcome.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Texans 10
(1) Green Bay vs. (4) New York
Upset alert! The New York Giants are playing championship caliber football on both sides of the ball. Forget Aaron Rodger’s sterling quarterback rating for a minute. Even forget the Packers 15-1 regular season record. The Giants are carrying some powerful mojo into Lambeau Field and believe they can go toe –to-toe with arguably the best team in the NFL. Many are likening this year’s playoff run to the magical championship run in 2007. In Week 13, the Giants nearly knocked off the undefeated Packers, coming within a brilliant last second drive by Rodgers from forcing overtime. New York lost 38-35, the identical score of the Week 17 contest in the 2007 season against the 15-0 Patriots during which head coach Tom Coughlin elected to play his starters and challenge New England’s perfect record. Despite the Giants losing both those regular season games, their performance gave them the belief that they could pull the upset back in 2007 and during this current postseason run. Expect the Giants to unleash their furious pass rush and for their offense to make enough big plays to keep pace with Rodgers and the Packers prolific attack. New York will outlast Green Bay on a late field goal by Lawrence Tynes ala the 2007 NFC Championship game.
Prediction: Giants 34 Packers 31
(2) San Francisco vs. (3) New Orleans
While the Harbaugh brothers are hoping for a reunion in Indianapolis on February 5th, the Niners will not hold up their end of the bargain. Despite the New Orleans Saints failing to win a road playoff game in the entire history of the franchise, quarterback Drew Brees can singlehandedly will his team to victory. San Francisco has embraced the hard-nosed mentality of its head coach and set a new standard in winning ugly. Behind quarterback Alex Smith and tailback Frank Gore, the Niners rode a ground and pound attack to a 13-3 record and first round playoff bye. Smith is an adept game manager tossing only five interceptions on the season. Expect New Orleans’ high-flying aerial assault to have the Niners backpedaling all afternoon. This game could be scary-ugly for the Niners as they will rely on the arm of Smith to match Brees’ brilliance. The Saints will build a two-score lead and win going away as San Francisco will fail to contain “Who dat” nation on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Saints 34 Niners 17