NFL Playoffs 2012: Full Divisional Round Picks and Predictions
The NFL Wild Card round is over, and it is now time to shift our focus over to the Divisional round of the 2012 NFL playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans are all moving on. Their reward is a road game against the top teams in their respective conferences.
See who will be advancing to the NFC and AFC Championship Games as we give the full divisional round picks and predictions for the 2012 NFL playoffs.
AFC Divisional Round: Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens
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The Houston Texans have been on the verge of breaking through to the playoffs for years, and they've finally done it, but will they be able to keep their franchise's best season going against the Baltimore Ravens?
Had this game taken place when Matt Schaub was healthy, the Texans would get the nod here without a doubt. Even if these game had taken place in T.J. Yates' first or second start, I would have given the Texans a slight edge over Baltimore.
However, Houston's offense had fallen quite a ways in their final three games of the regular season. Even though they were effective against the Cincinnati Bengals, I still have major questions about how well Yates will run the offense on the road.
So, mostly by default, the Ravens have the advantage on offense. Expect to see Ray Rice used early and often in this matchup. Whoever has the better game between Rice and Arian Foster could be the difference in this game.
Even though the Texans' defense has been much improved this year, they still aren't in the same class defensively as Baltimore. And in all reality, it isn't even close.
Baltimore is going to bring consistent pressure against the rookie Yates as they attempt to completely throw his game off. They'll likely be pretty successful at it, too.
Final Score: Baltimore 20, Houston 10
I just can't see any rookie quarterback being successful against the Ravens' defense, and with Yates' questionable play recently, I think he struggles big time. Look for Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to have huge games.
AFC Divisional Round: Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots
I'll never understand why I continue to doubt Tim Tebow. All he does is show us that he can win, and he did it again in dramatic fashion against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This one isn't even close. To even compare the offense of the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos is like comparing a BMW and a Kia.
The Patriots have the ability to put 50 points on the scoreboard every time they step on the field. They do the majority of their damage through the air, while the Broncos do all of their damage on the ground.
I will say that Tebow looked as good as ever as a passer against the Steelers, and if he can play like that again, the Broncos may be able to keep up with New England offensively.
This one also isn't even close. To say that the Broncos' defense has been surprisingly good would be the understatement of the century. No one thought that Von Miller would be as dominant as he has been in his rookie year, but he has already established himself as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
For New England, they are lacking the big playmaker this year, which has caused this team to give up way too many points and yards.
Final Score: New England 38, Denver 17
We've already seen what happens when these two teams meet up, so it this prediction really that big of a surprise?
NFC Divisional Round: New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers
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This is the matchup we've all been waiting for. Arguably the best defensive team in the San Francisco 49ers taking on the best offensive team in the New Orleans Saints. What else could you ask for?
This is a no-brainer. The Saints have the ability to score from anywhere on the field. They proved in their Wild Card game that it doesn't matter where they start with the ball, they are probably going to score.
The 49ers aren't as high-powered as New Orleans, but they aren't slouches either. They run an efficient run-first offense, but they have the ability to move the ball through the air too.
If this game, however, turns into a shootout, it's an absolute advantage for New Orleans.
Defensively, this game belongs to San Francisco. They are one of the best teams at getting after the quarterback, and Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are two of the best linebackers in all of football.
Look for the 49ers to bring all they have right in the face of Drew Brees in order to keep him out of rhythm. The Detroit Lions weren't able to do it successfully, but San Francisco should be able to.
New Orleans did a surprisingly good job at slowing down the Detroit Lions, but they still shouldn't be considered as good defensively as San Francisco.
Final Score: New Orleans 24, San Francisco 17
As good as San Francisco has been this year, the Saints are playing out of their minds right now. Brees is simply going to be too much for San Francisco to handle.
NFC Divisional Round: New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers
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It looked like the New York Giants wanted nothing more in their Wild Card game than a rematch against the Green Bay Packers. Well, they came out and played extremely well against the Atlanta Falcons, and a rematch is exactly what they'll get.
When these two teams met in the regular season the final score was 38-35 in favor of Green Bay. So, I think it is safe to say that these two teams are pretty evenly matched offensively.
Since I have to give the edge to someone, I'm going with the Packers because of the bevy of weapons that Aaron Rodgers has to play with. It also wouldn't surprise me if the ground game got going again, much like it did last year in the playoffs.
To not mention Eli Manning would be a huge mistake since he has been one of he better quarterbacks in the league this year. It wouldn't surprise me if these teams combined for another 70 points in this rematch.
The big factor here on defense is the ability that the Giants have to get after the quarterback. Even though they only had two sacks in their Wild Card game against Atlanta, you still have to give the advantage defensively to New York.
While I do believe that the Packers' defense is going to step their game up in the playoffs, there simply isn't a way that they can match New York in this category.
Final Score: Green Bay 34, New York 31
The difference in this game is going to be turnovers, and no team is as good at getting turnovers than Green Bay. Look for Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews to be the difference makers in this game.