By Mike Cannon
It was certainly an interesting wild card weekend last week. There weren’t too many surprises other than the Denver game, which I’m still shocked that happened, but the games were entertaining for the most part. An interesting note is that all 4 home teams won last week. Let’s see if that trend will carry over. I went 2-2 last week. I’ll try to do better this week. Starting with the AFC.
Denver @New England (Saturday, 8:00 pm)
|The Greatest Thing You’ve Ever Seen.
I should probably give up on trying to predict what Tebow does in a given week. I thought he didn’t stand a chance against Pittsburgh last weekend and he proved me wrong. I have doubted him over and over again this year and a lot of my criticisms seem to be right, yet he still finds a way to win. I don’t want to hear excuses about the Steelers being hurt, or it being it Denver, either. Sure they are factors, but this guy has proven throughout this year he finds ways to win in certain situations. This may be the only time I will be hardcore rooting for Tebow. Is anyone really going to root for New England outside of Pats fans? How hilarious would it be if Tebow (after already losing to New England this year) comes into Foxboro and ends their season making it an one and done for New England three years in a row and seeing Brady’s stupid face confused and upset? I know I would love it. I don’t think it will happen, though. Patriots are too tough offensively and although their defense isn’t the strongest, their run defense is better than their pass. And Bellichick was successful with his strategy against Tebow last time. So I will continue my pattern of doubting Tebow. Only this time I really hope he proves me wrong. Pats win.
Prediction: Denver: 13 New England: 27
Houston @Baltimore (Sunday, 1:00 pm)
I was impressed by Houston last week. Their defense showed up and frustrated Dalton all day. They got 3 picks from him and were able to maintain a stable lead the entire game on Cinci. Good for them and their first ever playoff win. Unfortunately I see that streak coming to an end this week. Ravens are out for something to prove this year. They have always been contenders but in a way have fallen second fiddle to Pittsburgh in the past. This year is different. They sent a message week 1 when they blew out the Steelers, they have had some signature wins this season, and now the AFC is wide open for them to take. Even Joe Flacco has something to prove and wants some props. I like how this team finished the season too. Aside from the San Diego loss, they won 6 of their last 7 in relatively easy fashion. That, along with the game being in Baltimore, makes me think Houston has a chance unless Foster somehow runs for 200+ yards.
Prediction: Houston: 10 Baltimore: 21
On the NFC:
New Orleans @San Francisco (Saturday, 4:30pm)
This one was the toughest game to pick as you could imagine. I like both of these teams a lot. They are opposites in a way too. Saints have an unstoppable offense, 49ers have a dominating defense. It’s a matter of who’s strength is better. The Saints are coming into this game as 4 point favorites, but I can’t be so sure about it. Guys like Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis will need to have huge days for San Fran. Alex Smith will also need to play mistake free football, which he has been doing all year. That is a major factor in their success. The 49ers have allowed only 1 runningback to gain over 100 yards rushing this year. I think the Saints will get their first real scare facing a lot of pass pressure as well. The 49ers won’t stop Brees and the Saints, that’s a given, but containing them is a possibility. If the 49ers can do that, along with the home crowd behind them, I think they can pull it off. I’ll go with the mini upset here, and say San Fran takes it.
Prediction: New Orleans: 20 San Francisco: 23
New York @Green Bay
Their last match up earlier in the year was great. Very exciting right to the end. The Giants showed they can compete with the best of them. I like the Giants right now, I think they are finding themselves at the right time. They essentially shut out the Falcons last week with not allowing an offensive score. Their offense got off to a slow start, but then sure enough, we saw a ridiculous Hakeen Nicks touchdown. With their talented offense, and Green Bay’s lack of defense, I don’t see moving the ball downfield to be a problem. One thing to remember for New York Giants, though, is that they haven’t left Metlife Stadium in over a month. (I don’t count the Jets game as a true away game). They’ve been pretty comfortable in the same spot and going to Lambeau this time of year is never easy, let alone facing a 15-1 team. Giants Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul seemed to have guaranteed a victory earlier in the week, but then has kind of backed off with it, for good reason. There’s no doubt the Giants offense is capable when they’re at their best to be right there with the Packers, but there is doubt in their ability to stop Rodgers when it counts. He’s just too good. I’m rooting for another exciting end like last time, but when I think it’s all said and done, Green Bay is coming out as a winner.
Prediction: New York: 27 Green Bay: 35 (Sunday, 4:30 pm)
Hopefully I’m a little better in my predictions this week. After looking at it, I noticed that I actually picked all four home teams. This didn’t really have anything to do with the fact that all four won last week either, just found it interesting.