NFL Playoffs: Predicting the Outcomes of the Divisional Round Games on Saturday

Chris FaigCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos celebrates his second quarter rushing touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Steelers 29-23 in overtime.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After an exciting final stretch to the postseason, and a thrilling Wild Card Round, the 2011-12 NFLseason has been absolutely spectacular.

From the surprisingly impressive 13-3 Niners to the outstanding clutch play of the Denver Broncos, the 2012 playoffs is guaranteed to be interesting. The Green Bay Packers only fell one game short of a perfect regular season, while the New York Giants played their hardest when it mattered the most. With four great games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, the conference championships are guaranteed to be thrilling matchups.  


Saturday, Jan. 14

New Orleans Saints (13-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) at 4:30 p.m. EST on FOX

To kick off the divisional round of the playoffs, the Drew Brees-led offense will travel to San Francisco to take on Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers. The Niners defense has been strong all year long, not giving up more than 27 points in a single contest.  

Against the 30th overall passing defense during the regular season, giving up over 250 yards per game, the Niners should be able to outscore the Saints because of the outstanding defensive efforts by Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and Co.

As long as Alex Smith and the Niners offense can put 20-plus points on the board, San Francisco should win this game. Sure, the Saints offense is a powerhouse because of the way Brees controls the pocket and finds the open receiver; however, the Niners will make it a nightmare for No. 9, sacking him constantly. From their defensive line to their linebackers and secondary, the Niners are dangerous.  

With the running combo of Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore, and minimal mistakes from Smith, San Francisco will come out of this battle the victor.  

Prediction: 49ers 30, Saints 24

Player Prediction: Aldon Smith records three sacks and forces a fumble.


Denver Broncos (8-8) vs. New England Patriots (13-3) at 8 p.m. EST on CBS

From Tom Brady, who has thrown 39 touchdown passes this season, to Tim Tebow, who has been the most talked about player this year because of his fourth-quarter heroics, this is probably the most anticipated game of this weekend.  

After an exciting upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, Tebow and the crew head to New England to take on the mastermind head coach Bill Belichick and his Patriots.  

Despite Tebow's ability to beat the Steelers through the air, many analysts believe that Belichick will simply not allow it because of his well-planned defensive schemes.  Even though New England has the 31st overall passing defense, allowing 293.9 yards per game, the Pats are still 13-3, and that is for a reason.  The defense will allow yards to accumulate, but when it's time to put up or shut up the Pats usually turn out as the winner.  

However, the Broncos will keep this a close game. And what happens when No. 15 is given a shot with minimal time left? It becomes Tebow Time. 

Prediction: Broncos 27, Patriots 24 in OT

Player Prediction:  Tim Tebow throws for over 225 yards and one touchdown while running for over 100 yards and one touchdown.