Remember that iconic scene in “Field of Dreams” when Kevin Costner’s character was asked “Is this Heaven?” , his response was “Iowa” but his weekend may feel like a bit of heaven for NFL fans. Following an interesting and exciting Wild Card Weekend we are lining up for the second course of the bountiful feast which is known as The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
And we have a good number of games on tap and I aim to improve by split from last week (I was 2-2) and go fro the clean sweep. My pics will be a little more bold, but I’ll explain why I picked each.
Don’t forget we will be LIVE Tweeting throughout the games on Twitter during each game. Come Join Us @sportsrants
So let’s dig in!
New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers
After blowing out the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card Round, the Saints look to keep the offensive momentum going against the 49ers who are making their first playoff appearance since 2002. A classic tug of war between offense & defense.
While many of you may be quick to pick the Saints due to their impressive offensive output during their matchup against the Lions, keep in mind if Lions cornerback Aaron Berry caught that interception we may have has a different score. I am not saying the Lions might have won the game if that play was made, but the score may have been different.
I’m not too comfortable picking the Saints, who for the first 3 quarters of the Lions game struggled to put Detroit away and allowed the Lions to stay in the game.
The 49ers are a sound defensive teams and this is my early pick for Game of the Weekend, but the 49ers seem more balanced than me and are certainly more rested.
San Francisco 24, New Orleans 21
Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens
I really like the Houston Texans and they have been my pick to reach the Super Bowl since the playoff teams were set,. What can I say, I am a sucker for a good story and I can’t help but root for an underdog sometimes. But what stands out more than the journalistic appeal of the Texans is the heart they show and the balance.
Last week on the sidelines I saw a collection of quarterbacks huddled around Houston QB Tj Yates (Jeff Garcia, Jake Delhomme, Matt Leinart) helping Yates through every step of the game. That solidarity speaks volumes to me.
I also like the Baltimore Raves. Who can’t like that defense. But the loss of Ray Lewis impacted the Ravens late in the season and who knows just how healthy the future Hall of Famer will be. And while the Ravens are one of the top defenses in the league and a running back names Ray Rice who is a fantasy stud, the Texans are more balanced of a team.
Joe Flacco will be put in a situation to win the game for the Ravens and frankly not too many people are confident in that, not even Ravens fans.
Houston 17, Baltimore 13
So last week I really, really wanted to pick Denver. but I took my had over my heart and picked the Steelers, oops!
But this week I feel less confident picking Denver, simply because the offense of the Patriots is too explosive, even for a much-improved Denver defense to handle. While Tebow surely will have his fair share of highlight plays against a rather questionable Pats defense, I just don’t think it will be enough to overcome the Pats offensive output.
Besides all of that, Bill Belichick is one of the best in the business at making halftime adjustments and I have no doubt if things don’t start out the way the Pats intended, they have the ability to correct it in time to win the game.
New England 28, Denver 17
New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers
Nothing says “Playoff Football” quite like January at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
But before the Pakcers plan a ticker tape parade for a ticket to the NFC Championship they have to encounter the New York Giants. The same Giants they narrowly defeated by 3 points a few weeks back when the Pack was still undefeated.
While this game may rival the Saints/49ers game for “Game of the Weekend” honors, it will fall a little short.
I would love to pick the Packers here but the way things are going for the New York Giants makes it hard to make that an easy choice. Furthermore, everything about this game and their first encounter reminds me of 2007 when the Giants narrowly missed defeating the the undefeated New England Patriots int he regular season, only to upset them in the Super Bowl.
Does history repeat itself? This weekend it does
New York 31, Green Bay 27