After a 3-1 wild card weekend, I am feeling pretty good heading into this weekend. All four matchups can easily be toss ups, but after breaking them down, I think we can forecast the winners.
New England vs. Denver, Saturday at 8 p.m. on CBS
Yes, I understand the Patriots won the regular season matchup with a lopsided final score. Fact is Denver shredded the Patriots on the ground in the first half, but Denver fumbled the game away in the second half. New England’s defense is the worst in the NFL and the Broncos offense is much more efficient. I like the Broncos passing game against Pats D. Add to this that Tom Brady does not do well under pressure, expect the Broncos to bring the house at him with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. New England has lost their last three playoff games and in each, the offense has been awful. Back-to-back home playoff losses only add to the pressure on the Patriots who haven't defeated a team that finished with a winning record this season.
Denver 17, New England 14
New Orleans v. San Francisco, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on FOX
The 49ers are the best defense in the NFL, but the Saints have the most dangerous offense in the league. I don’t think the Saints will hang 600 yards on the Niners as they did last week vs. the Lions. RB Darren Sproles will be the X-factor in this game. If Drew Brees can find him in open spaces, he will have a big day. New Orleans has struggled against the power run game and Frank Gore will be looking to get a lot of touches. This may turn into a shootout and San Francisco just won’t be able to keep up. Drew Brees can’t be slowed down, even if the field is not in top shape.
New Orleans 34, San Francisco 24
Baltimore v. Houston, Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS
These two teams had a great game in the regular season with Baltimore winning with a strong fourth quarter. That game also featured Matt Schaub, not T. J. Yates. The Ravens defense is too skilled and disciplined to allow a third string QB to beat them. Baltimore has struggled lately in the playoffs, but that was on the road. Ray Lewis wants another ring and will not let his boys settle for anything but a strong home showing.
Baltimore 21, Houston 16
New York v. Green Bay, Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on FOX
Three weeks ago, this would have been an easy pick: Green Bay. The Giants have been playing outstanding football the last month. QB Eli Manning has looked like an elite signal caller and his WRs have made huge plays. The Giants defensive line has played big during this stretch as well. The Packers have been the best team in the NFL all year and QB Aaron Rodgers has been light years ahead of defenses in 2011 and will put a lot of points on the board. The Packers defense is not strong and give up tons of yards so if it is a battle of offenses, I have to side with the discount double check.
Green Bay 38, New York 31