This weekend a trip to the conference championship game will be on line as each matchup should be a great contest.
The biggest question surrounding divisional weekend is which team will have that epic run through the postseason into the Super Bowl. Some cities are worried that their higher-seeded team might not be able to hit on all cylinders once again after taking a week off. It’s all about surviving and advancing to the next round.
Here are my projected scores and results for divisional weekend.
The Saints have the best offensive line in the NFL, as they can actually lineup and play smash-mouth football with anyone. QB Drew Brees would be the MVP of the league in any other season with his incredible passing numbers. They will not overlook their opponent again like last season’s playoff nightmare in Seattle.
The San Francisco 49ers haven’t faced a team close to the caliber of the Saints offensive power this season. Their own passing game isn’t sophisticated enough to keep pace with them. The Niners haven’t been blown out all year, as their superior defense has kept the score close, but, QB Alex Smith and K David Akers cannot be the sole offense against the Saints. Three will never beat seven, even if you double the frequency.
Final Score: Saints over Niners 31-19
I can’t imagine too many football fans predicting the Denver Broncos would be playing in the Northeast this weekend. The New England Patriots cannot underestimate QB Tim Tebow’s ability to make plays, especially the play-action deep post pass. They must contain him in the backfield, as Tebow can run wild on the edges of the defense.
The key to the resurgence of the Pats defense has been moving Devin McCourty to the safety position. He has kept everything in front of him and reacted to the ball much better from his new position. Now the Patriots have the personnel in their secondary to take away WR Demarius Thomas from an injury-depleted passing attack.
Offensively, the Pats OL must protect QB Tom Brady long enough for him to throw the deep ball and stretch the defense. The Broncos must find a way to cover TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, as they put up big numbers in the regular season contest.
Final Score: Patriots over Broncos 35-17
Offensively, the Ravens must have RB Ray Rice run the football effectively or their AFC Championship Game hopes will fall upon the arm of QB Joe Flacco. He must get rid of the ball quickly, as good defenses have eaten him alive when Flacco has held the ball too long. The Ravens play-calling cannot be overly conservative or they will be one and done on Sunday.
The Ravens defense will try to shut down the Texans offense by stacking the box and blitzing QB T.J. Yates. He must avoid the pressure and let WR Andre Johnson make plays downfield because he’s a lethal receiver. RB Arian Foster will have small holes to work with, but his speed and acceleration will allow him to make an impact on the game.
This should be a very physical game, as both defenses love laying a good lick on opposing players.
Final Score: Baltimore Ravens over Houston Texans 21-17
In the last three weeks the New York Giants defense has given up a paltry 28 points, but stalling the Green Bay Packers offense will be a hard task. They have a 13-game winning streak at Lambeau Field by the average margin of 19 points over their opponents.
The Giants offense cannot get off to a slow start, as they must score early to gain some momentum on the road. Their pass rushers must hit Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the pocket, and they must fully expect to be flagged for at least one roughing the passer call on Sunday.
In their only two losses over the last 21 games, the Packers failed to generate any defensive turnovers. Yes, the defense gives up yardage, but they force more turnovers and penalties than any other team in the NFL. The key for the Giants is not turning the ball over.
Final Score: Packers over the Giants 34-31 in OT