Good evening America, welcome back to Cardiac Attack Sports. I’m Lucas Kinser, you’re wish-I-was-getting-paid-for-this host.
Tomorrow begins the divisional round of the NFL postseason, so it only seems fitting I give my two cents on Saturday’s prolific evening of pigskin delight.
All betting lines are courtesy of http://www.bovada.lv/
New Orleans (-4) vs. San Francisco
The game many fans and pundits are writing off as a win for New Orleans comes in at just under a field goal for the Saints, although other lines I’ve seen have them as high as seven points. Statistically the league’s most potent passing offensive ever is taking on an elite defense with five AP All-Pro honorees, plus arguably the best punter (Andy Lee) and Kicker (David Akers) this season.
An interesting trend to look at is the differences both teams have when playing on the road or at home. San Francisco’s offense hasn’t been dynamic this season, but their five lowest scoring outputs all came outside the confines of Candlestick Park (or whatever the heck they call it now). They’ve scored 20 or more points in all eight home games this season, averaging 27.6 per game while holding their opponents to 10 or fewer points at the friendly confines five times.
On the flip side, New Orleans’ five lowest scoring games came away from the Superdome (20, 21, 22, 23, and 26) while their five highest came at home (62, 49, 45, 45, and 45). The Saints simply aren’t the same team on the road, which doesn’t’ bode well for them in an outdoor venue.
I have a feeling this game will surprise a lot of people. San Francisco has a chip on their shoulder as the red-headed stepchild of the NFC’s division winners, but make no mistake, they can keep the Saints offense in check. If this game were played in New Orleans, I’d have the Saints winning by at least a touchdown, but the venue seems to be a prevailing factor in every major statistical category. Therefore, expect a mid-scoring game, probably 27-24, with the 49ers pulling off the home upset.
Prediction: 49ers Win, 27-24
Denver vs. New England (-14)
Wow, what a difference a month makes! After Tim Tebow won over the hearts of millions, New England rolled into town and beat down the Gainesville legend, leading to a three-game slide that threatened the Broncos’ chances at even making the postseason. However, due to a massive choke job by Oakland and some beautiful adjustments in the Wild Card round game vs. Pittsburgh, these two teams are back for Round 2.
In their first meeting, Denver’s defense was dismal at best. According to http://www.profootballfocus.com, the Broncos only got pressure on Tom Brady six times in the game. On the flip side, New England’s oft-dysfunctional defenders got pressure on Tebow in 19 of his 32 drop-backs, going 4-of-11 for 60 yards and getting sacked four times on those plays.
Thus, the key for both teams is pressure, pressure, pressure! Force Tebow to make quick decisions in the pocket and, as shown time and time again, he will either throw the ball away or take a sack. If he gets time to set his feet and gaze across the field, he can either find running lanes or chuck an ugly duckling down the field for a big play. It isn’t pretty, but it’s gotten him an 8-4 record this year.
With that being said, the Broncos’ defense still has to find a way to slow down Tom Brady. When Denver blitzed last game, Brady had a 118.8 QB rating and completed 7-of-9 passes. When they rushed four or fewer, he had a 108.6 rating with two passing TDs. Either way, if they don’t get the Golden Boy’s patootie on the turf, it will be a long night in Foxboro for the Tebow faithful.
All of this leads me to believe this game will be close to a repeat of the last, but with a bit more drama and competition due to it being a playoff game. Both teams will show up and play their hearts out in the weekend’s most anticipated matchup, but New England will come out on top, probably 35-24. I have a feeling some Tebow fireworks in the fourth will keep this game below the spread.
Prediction: Patriots Win, 35-24
Thanks again for reading my blog. Check back Sunday morning for a brief recap of Saturday’s games and my predictions for the Sabbath showdowns in Green Bay and Baltimore.