NFL Playoff Schedule 2012: Predicting Winner of 49ers-Saints and Ravens-Texans

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IJanuary 8, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07:   Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints holds the ball in the air as he runs off the field after defeating the Detroit Lions by a score of 45-28 to win during their 2012 NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Three is the magic number.

The Lombardi Trophy is in reach. Putting together a three-game winning streak is nothing for the teams that are remaining in the playoffs.

Two out of the four divisional-round matchups have been set. Here are the times, dates and predictions for each battle.

Saturday, Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m. EST: New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers

This will without a doubt be the game of the week. A matchup of polar opposite strengths, New Orleans and their high-flying offense will test the 49ers stingy defense. 

The two teams didn’t face off in the regular season. In fact, Drew Brees and the Saints offense managed to dodge all of the NFL’s top defenses in the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, so who knows what to expect?

Prediction

My heart is trying to remind me that defense wins championships and that Frank Gore and the 49ers strong running game will be able to control the clock. My brain, though, is asking, how can you bet against Brees right now?  When it’s all said and done, it’s difficult to choose an Alex Smith-led team over Brees’ crew.

New Orleans 28-27

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Sunday, Jan. 15 at 1:00 p.m. EST: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

On Monday night, LSU and Alabama will face off in the BCS National Championship game. The NCAA title may just be a preview of this Texans-Ravens game. Each defense will dominate the opposing offense.

Whichever defensive unit can force the most turnovers, special teams can control the field position, and offense can create the most big plays will come out on top.

Prediction

Baltimore has the better defense and the better quarterback. Houston may have run all over the Cincinnati Bengals, but against a defensive-front featuring Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, Arian Foster isn’t rushing for 150-plus yards. T.J. Yates will ultimately be the weak link that holds the Texans back.

Baltimore 17-13 

David Daniels is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.


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