Here we are at the Divisional Round of the playoffs. If we don’t stop to enjoy this time of the sports year, it will quickly pass us by. I’m coming off a 2-2 picks session last week. Not perfect, but perfectly mediocre. Although, the two correct picks were the two games I bet in real life. The Texans and Giants did not disappoint. And, I believe you could see that those were my two solid picks based on what I wrote last week.
I’m starting with the NFC this time for the Divisional Round. It’s a clear build up toward the Denver – New England match-up.
Saturday (4:30 PM EST)
Saints (-3.5) @ 49ers
It’s Thursday morning. Despite being the lower seed, a mediocre team on the road and facing a very good defense, the public is all over the Saints this Saturday in their game in San Francisco.
It’s not surprising that the public is liking a high powered offense that’s favored. Yet, the Saints have looked mortal against much worse teams this season on the road. However, I am joining the masses on this one.
Since their road collapses at Tampa Bay and at Saint Louis, the Saints have been rolling. That includes two wins against the Lions, two wins against the Falcons and a win against the Giants. During that time period, the 49ers have two wins that I would call marquee. That’s a win against the Giants and a win against the Steelers.
How will this game do? A good defense against a good offense — sounds intriguing. I think the Saints will put up 30+ points. Since their bye-week the Saints have played seven games (including last weekend against Detroit). During this time period, the team ha averaged 39.8 points. Reaching 30 shouldn’t be an issue, even against a quality 49ers defense.
You must get into the specifics of the San Fran defense to see why I’ve decided to back the Saints. The Niners defense is better against the run than the pass. They are the best run defense in the league. However, the pass defense ranks in the middle of the pack (exactly 16th in passing yards allowed).
Pick: Saints -3.5
Sunday (4:30 PM EST)
Giants (+9) @ Packers
The Giants played the Packers close the first time around, but that was back east in the Meadowlands. The way to beat a high powered offense is to get pressure on the quarterback. An obvious statement? Maybe. But in today’s league, you can no longer push receivers around. This makes the skill of pass rushing that much more important.
Moreover, the Giants are great at pass rushing — at least in flashes. They have a track record of being able to slow down offenses like these. To boot; the Giants have had a bit of an explosive offense of their own in recent weeks.
Victor Cruz and the Giants should be not only eying the Packers defense, but literally licking their lips.
Over the past 6 weeks, the G-men have scored an average of 34.5 points per game. It’s going to take every one of those points to hang with Green Bay in Lambeau. That said, the Packers have the worst pass defense (based on yards allowed) in the league. If you believe the Giants can score and make this a high scoring affair, it can’t also be a 10-point Packers win.
Note: if you do like the Pack to win big, you can get them at -8 or even -7.5 on some books. But, not me.
Pick: Giants +9