NFL Playoff Predictions: Niners Will Upset Saints This Weekend

Jordan Heck@@JordanHeckFFContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2012

Drew Brees will be playing outside of the dome this weekend.
Drew Brees will be playing outside of the dome this weekend.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Last week, we saw all four home teams win their matchups as the Texans, Saints, Giants and Broncos all advanced to the division round of the playoffs.

The Bengals, Lions, Falcons and Steelers were all eliminated as we move forward in the NFL playoffs. 

Who will continue their journey, and whose journey will end? 

Houston vs. Baltimore

The Texans took care of business last week when they defeated Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10.  This week, they travel to face the Baltimore Ravens.

These two teams played earlier in the season when they met up in week six; the Ravens won 29-14.

The Ravens were able to win that matchup because they were able to stop Houston’s run game. Arian Foster only had 49 yards on the ground. 

This is nothing new for the Ravens, whose defense is second in the league against the run.

This will be a problem for the Texans considering they have a rookie quarterback—TJ Yates.

Houston’s bread and butter is the run game, as they showed last week against the Bengals when Foster ran for 153 yards.

If Houston wants to win this matchup, they’re going to have to force turnovers like they did against Cincinnati. 

Dalton threw three interceptions, and the Texans were able to take advantage of it, returning one for a touchdown.

In the end, however, the Ravens are undefeated at home this season and their defense will be too strong for the Texans and their rookie quarterback.

Prediction: Texans 17, Ravens 30

New Orleans vs. San Francisco

The Saints continued their home winning streak against the Detroit Lions last week, but this week they have to go on the road and play the San Francisco 49ers.

While the Saints are still an elite team, they are a completely different team at home and on the road.  The Saints average 27 points during away games and 41 points during home games.

New Orleans lost to teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the St. Louis Rams on the road this season, which proves they can be beaten. 

In both of those losses, the opposing team was able to force the Saints into turnovers.

Against the Buccaneers, Drew Brees threw three interceptions and Pierre Thomas fumbled the football. 

Against the Rams, Brees threw two interceptions and one was returned for a touchdown.

The Niners are one of the best teams at forcing turnovers on defense and not having turnovers on offense.  They finished with a league best plus-28 turnover ratio. 

If the 49ers' defense can cause enough turnovers and capitalize on them, they have a great chance to win.

The key for San Francisco will be to turn field goals into touchdowns.  Kicker David Akers set an NFL record this year for most field goals made in a single season.

He’s also made 18 kicks inside of 30 yards this season, which are kicks that need to be converted into touchdowns.

Prediction: Saints 24, 49ers 27

Rodgers will face Manning and the Giants for the second time this season.
Rodgers will face Manning and the Giants for the second time this season.Al Bello/Getty Images

New York vs. Green Bay

Last week, the Giants played great defense, stopping the Atlanta Falcons from scoring any points on offense.  Their offense played just as well and the G-Men were able to win 24-2.

New York's offense did a great job balancing the run and the pass.  Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 155 yards on the ground as Eli Manning threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns.

They get a tougher assignment this week, however, playing the Green Bay Packers on the road.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has played lights-out football this season as he has led the way for the highest scoring offense in the NFL.

These two teams met up earlier in the season when the Packers won a close 38-35 game at New York in which Rodgers threw for four touchdowns.

This game will be extremely similar to the one that was played in week 13.  It will be high scoring with a lot of passing, and the result will be the same.

Prediction: Giants 38, Packers 42

Denver vs. New England

Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos stunned the world as they pulled off another miracle last week when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. 

It was the fourth overtime victory by the Broncos this season.

Tebow can't pull off another miracle this week against the Patriots.
Tebow can't pull off another miracle this week against the Patriots.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Broncos get another tough matchup this week as they play a familiar foe—the New England Patriots.  Denver lost 41-23 to New England in week 15 after a second quarter collapse.

The Broncos were up 16-7 at one point in that game, but turnovers proved to be costly as they lost four fumbles.

The strange thing about this matchup is that former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels just recently joined the Patriots coaching staff as an offensive assistant. 

McDaniels is the man responsible for drafting Tebow in Denver.

The Patriots have lost their first game in the playoffs the past two seasons, but don’t expect to see that this week.

Prediction: Denver 24, Patriots 34


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