Playoff picks – Divisional Playoffs, Saturday games

After Wild Card weekend there’s only 8 teams left in the hunt for Lombardy trophy, 4 of those teams will advance to Conference Championships. First, here are my picks for Saturday Divisional Playoffs games.

New Orleans Saints (14-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (13-3), Saturday 4:30 PM (ET)

     

Stats That Matter

Scoring Offense: Saints (2nd) over 49ers (11th)
Scoring Defense: 49ers (2nd) over Saints (13th)
Scoreability Index: 49ers (2nd) over Saints (6th)
Bendability Index: 49ers (1st) over Saints (7th)
Passer Rating Diff.: Saints (2nd) over 49ers (6th)
Rusher Rating Diff.: 49ers (1st) over Saints (8th)

Prediction 

Drew Brees and his high-power offense comes to San Francisco to face one of the best defenses in the league. Saints have scored exactly 45 points in each of their last 3 games and it seems like nobody can stop them. For the 49ers, this will be their first playoff game in a while and Candlestick Park will be packed with fans hungry for playoff football. Niners will try to run the ball as much as possible in order to keep Drew Brees off the field. If they’ll fail to do so it will a long day for QB Alex Smith against blitz-happy New Orleans’ defense. Teams didn’t play each other in regular season and it will be interesting to see who will win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Saints have a great offensive line who protected Brees and opened up running lanes for RB Darren Sproles and lately RB Pierre Thomas, I think stopping Sproles will be key. Hopefully 49ers D-line can stuff Saints’ running game and make their offense a bit more one-dimensional. I picked 49ers to win in all their regular season games and I have no intention to do any different here when they face their toughest challenge so far.

Moneyline: 49ers 26-24
Against The Spread: 49ers (+3.5)
Over/Under: Over 47.5




Denver Broncos (9-8) @ New England Patriots (13-3), Saturday 8:00 PM (ET)

     

Stats That Matter

Scoring Offense: Patriots (3rd) over Broncos (25th)
Scoring Defense: Patriots (15th) over Broncos (24th)
Scoreability Index: Patriots (4th) over Broncos (21st)
Bendability Index: Patriots (2nd) over Broncos (24th)
Passer Rating Diff.: Patriots (4th) over Broncos (28th)
Rusher Rating Diff.: Patriots (7th) over Broncos (18th)

Prediction 

It was Tebow Time at Mile High all day last Sunday. After their surprising win in overtime against heavily favorites Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver has to travel to meet the Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoffs. Both teams have already played in regular season, with Patriots winning that game comfortably 41-23 in Week 15. Patriots did what they had to do, exploit weak pass defense of the Broncos and limit the production of Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow probably can’t keep pace with QB Tom Brady and his air-attack, so I expect from Patriots to do the same in this game. They’ll use all of their weapons again to exploit Denver’s defense through the air. Statistically, Patriots didn’t have a great regular season on defense, especially their  pass defense was horrible, 31st in the league, but they registered 34 takeaways, 1st in the AFC, and they played good red-zone defense. They will force Broncos to settle for field goals which should be enough for another convincing win.

Moneyline: Patriots 33-20
Against The Spread: Broncos (+13.5)
Over/Under: Over 50.5

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