I had a friend in town last weekend, so for the first time ever I did not watch any playoff games live. Hence, there was no recap. Outside of the Broncos-Steelers thriller, though, I didn't miss a whole lot in terms of excitement. The Giants' 24-2 win over the Falcons sounded like one of the most boring playoff games ever. On to this week's picks.
I went 3-1 in picking wild card weekend, missing the Broncos-Steelers game. I am not getting wild with any picks this weekend, favoring only one underdog.
NFC, Saturday: Saints (14-3) at 49ers (13-3). Saints favored by 3.
The Niners are an understandable home underdog. It's their first playoff game since 2002 and the Saints have scored 42, 45, 45 and 45 in their last four games. But ... all four of those games were indoors, three at home and one at 3-13 Minnesota. In their last outdoor game, the Saints barely held off the Titans, 22-17. And any team that lost to the Rams, like the Saints did, is no sure thing on the road. The 49ers have a terrific defense that will slow down Drew Brees and an offense that can play ball control against a weak New Orleans defense. In an upset, 49ers 23, Saints 20.
AFC, Saturday: Broncos (9-8) at Patriots (13-3). Patriots favored by 13 1/2.
Ugh! Tim Tebow vs. Tom Brady. Jesus' QB against the team I hate the most. It's like getting a meal choice of liver ice cream or pig's feet pizza; either one will make you puke. I hope Tebow strains a muscle while pregame Tebowing and the sexy Brady Quinn comes off the bench.
The Broncos have a puncher's chance in this one. The Patriots have a crappy defense and they fell behind 17-0 and 21-0 in their last two games before rallying against weak teams. The Broncos scored 23 on them a few weeks ago and three fumbles turned a close game into a rout. But any way I dissect it, I can't see a Denver win. Patriots 34, Broncos 16.
AFC, Sunday: Texans (11-6) at Ravens (12-4). Ravens favored by 7 1/2.
The Texans won their first playoff game as a franchise last week, but run into a buzz saw in Baltimore. The Ravens finally have a home game after three years as a wild card, and they went 8-0 at home this season. The Texans have a shaky rookie QB in T.J. Yates and the Ravens have an erratic QB in four-year starter Joe Flacco. But Baltimore's defense will dictate this game and no way they lose at home to a rookie. Ravens 30, Texans 10.
NFC, Sunday: Giants (10-7) at Packers (15-1). Packers favored by 7 1/2.
The Packers needed a last-minute TD drive to beat the Giants, 38-35, in Week 13. This has many people conjuring up memories of 2007, when the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl a few weeks after losing 38-35 to close the regular season. A hot Eli Manning and stellar pass rush were the keys then and are supposed to be the keys now. But I don't buy it. The 2007 Pats were playing on fumes and this year's Packers are rested, healthy and at home after a bye. And Manning didn't exactly light it up against the Falcons last week. Green Bay is simply too good, especially at Lambeau in January. Packers 38, Giants 17.