During the first two games of the divisional round of the 2012 NFL playoffs on Saturday, we saw the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots play impressive football to move on to their respective conference championship games.
The Niners beat the New Orleans Saints in dramatic fashion, 36-32, with a touchdown pass in the waning seconds, and the Pats dominated the Denver Broncos, 45-10, behind Tom Brady's record-setting performance.
We'll pick each game against the spread and predict a score for each. Here we go.
AFC: 2) Baltimore Ravens vs. 3) Houston Texans
The Line: Baltimore -8
Pick: Ravens 20, Texans 17
I'm picking the Texans to cover the spread in this game because they have been playing very well lately behind great defense, an outstanding running game and admirable play from rookie quarterback TJ Yates.
However, I can't go against the Ravens in this game. Baltimore's defense is insanely good, and the team plays very well at home. Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and company might have a tough time getting anything going against Houston's defense, which is just a cut below Baltimore's, but when it's all said and done, the Ravens send the Texans packing with a hard-fought defeat.
Don't expect Houston to ever go away in this one, though. Baltimore shouldn't win as easily as they did the first time in a 29-14 win.
NFC: 1) Green Bay Packers vs. 4) New York Giants
The Line: Green Bay -7.5
Pick: Packers 34, Giants 30
New York will be gunning for the Packers in this game as they try to avenge their 38-35 regular season loss, and we should see a similarly-close game. I do think the Giants will cover the spread, but I still like the Packers to win at home.
Like the Ravens, the Packers have not lost at home and are very tough to beat in that environment. The Giants have been playing much better in the trenches lately, but the Packers should be at full strength in this game and will be very hard to stop.
I think the Giants have a great chance to beat the 49ers and go to the Super Bowl if they end up beating the Packers at Lambeau Field, but I don't expect them to make it that far.
The Falcons weren't ready for the Giants. The Packers will be.