Aaron Hernandez vs. Broncos
The last time New England faced the Broncos (less than a month ago) they did a good job of taking away Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski as they dared Tom Brady to beat them with other weapons. Aaron Hernandez made them pay with nine receptions for 129 yards and a score, proving he more than capable of hurting opposing defenses. Over the final three weeks, Hernandez had two games over 125 yards receiving and a hobbled Deion Branch has only helped his activity in the offense.
Only playing in 14 of the teams 70 Week 17 snaps, Branch is no sure thing to play a full game, and Hernandez should continue to benefit in the passing game. While I won’t blame you for putting your money on Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham going forward, don’t sleep on Hernandez as he should have a terrific 2012 playoff run and might end up being the top scoring tight end in the playoffs.
Vernon Davis vs. Saints
With the 49ers struggling through injuries in their receiving core, Vernon Davis was targeted no fewer than eight times over the final three weeks of the season as he totaled 18 receptions for 244 yards and a score. Davis has always had poor hands, but his down numbers in 2011 had more to do with the conservative play calling of Jim Harbaugh as they elected to keep Davis in for run blocking more often than in recent years.
Because of injury and the fact that the 49ers will be facing the Saints high scoring offense, expect Davis to continue to see around 10 targets a game for as long as the 49ers remain in the Super Bowl hunt. If they get past New Orleans this week, San Francisco will likely face the Packers, but if they should lose to the Giants, Davis will face a defense he’s already had success against as he scored a long touchdown reception against them Week 10.
|2||Jimmy Graham||@ 49ers|
|6||Jake Ballard||@ Packers|
|9||Daniel Fells||@ Patriots|
|10||Owen Daniels (I)||@ Ravens|
|11||Joel Dreessen||@ Ravens|
|12||James Casey||@ Ravens|