Divisional Round NFL Picks

With the first round of the playoffs over, I’m 3-1 against the spread and my Super Bowl prediction is still alive. I’ll be as happy as John Elway if this week goes as well for my picks. If you didn’t catch anything from last week’s games, be sure to check out Matt Prater’s most perfect touchback ever. As always, the lines are from ESPN and my picks are in caps.

New Orleans Saints at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+3.0)

Frank Gore needs to carry the 49ers offense if they hope to win. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Saints are 9-0 this year at home (including the playoffs) and 5-3 on the road. When on the road this season, the Saints lost to the Packers, Buccaneers, and Rams. They also beat the Panthers, Falcons, and Titans by less than a touchdown. That means that in 6 of their 8 road games, they either lost, or won by less than a touchdown. Their closest home game was a 40-33 victory over the Houston Texans in week three. So, if you want to beat the Saints, you’ll need to be able to score and be the home team. If the 49ers can stick with Frank Gore and control the clock, they can beat the Saints. And they will.

Prediction: New Orleans 23, San Francisco 27

DENVER BRONCOS (+13.5) at New England Patriots

Tim Tebow has reached the level of popularity where 80’s songs are being re-recorded with lyrics inspired by him. Plenty of fans will be cheering for another Tebow Miracle, but even so, the Broncos are not expected to win this weekend. Remember the Seahawks last year? They finished the season 7-9 and became the first team to make the playoffs with a winning record. But they made the playoffs because they won their division. Winning their division also meant they were entitled to a home playoff game in the wild card round. Well, the New Orleans Saints went into Seattle as 12-point favorites and came out with a loss. Seattle won the game because they had nothing to lose. Well, that and Marshawn Lynch. No one expected the Seahawks to win and when a team has no expectations, they’re dangerous. Last week, the Broncos were that team. They’ll be that team again this week and that’s why I expect them to cover. But have no fear, the Patriots will win, and when they do, let’s hope owner Bob Kraft gets his high five.

Prediction: Denver 24, New England 31

Houston Texans at BALTIMORE RAVENS (-7.0)

Hopefully Harbaugh realizes that his offense is at their best when Ray Rice gets the football. (Larry French/Getty Images)

It sounds like Joe Flacco feels like he has got something to prove. But he’s right. If the Ravens win, it’ll be by Flacco throwing less and Ray Rice running more. And the Ravens will do just that. When these two teams matched up in the regular season, the Ravens won 29-14. The Texans still had Matt Schaub healthy at that point. Against the Ravens defense, T.J. Yates will be in for a long day. Don’t forget that the Ravens have Ray Lewis. Poor T.J. Yates.

Prediction: Houston 17, Baltimore 27

NEW YORK GIANTS (-9.0) at Green Bay Packers

It’s going to be 23 degrees in Green Bay on Sunday. With Aaron Rodgers and a plethora of talented receivers, the Packers are built to play indoors. Weather can only make it harder for Aaron Rodgers to get the ball down field. But don’t read this as me saying the Packers won’t be able to score, because they will. They’ve put up 80 points in their past two home games and Aaron Rodgers wasn’t even playing in one of them. However, the combination of the cold weather, the Giants defense, and the suddenly revived Brandon Jacobs will be enough for the Giants to upset the 15-1 Packers.

Prediction: New York 34, Green Bay 31

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