Well after a decent set of games for the wild card weekend, I will only talk NFC for now, the games went pretty much the way I thought. Except the one worry I had was Atlanta not showing up and they didn’t. How can you get in the playoffs and play that poorly? Then the Offensive Coordinator gets a Head Coaching gig and the Defensive Coordinator leaves for the college game. While I predicted the score to be close, I was expecting the good Atlanta team to show like the one in the first Saints game this season and not the one that played the Texans in week 12. Could this be due to one being played at home as compared to the road?
In the Division Round the Saints score was what I thought it would be, the Lions did a good job early but imploded as soon as adversity struck. The Lions had many opportunities and failed to convert. We have all seen the missed interceptions and the Saints punishing them for it. They made it look easy against the 23rd ranked defense, yes, another defense in the bottom half. Not to say that the Saints don’t have an incredible offense but constantly racking up numbers against the worst defenses in the league is not that impressive. So first off congrats to the Saints and the Giants for moving on in the playoffs. Now its time to send you both home to watch the NFC championship.
This looks to be a great match up with two teams that played just a few weeks ago, with a final drive that took all of about a minute to put the Giants away. So all you hear now is comparisons of this Giants team to the ’07 team that beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Giants have played very well as of late but this is the same team that lost 4 straight games. The Giants will need to play this game differently this time. They will have to run the ball and not try to match big plays with the Packers. The big plays are going to happen as the Packers will allow them as they take chances on defense, knowing the offense will cover them. Meaning there is no need to throw the deep ball as much, can be a little more conservative and run out the clock. One thing I hear a lot is QB Aaron Rodgers has not played for three weeks, he could be rusty for the game. If your a Giants fan don’t count on this. Rodgers hardly practiced all summer and preseason, and came out on fire against the Saints. While I don’t give the Giants much of a chance at winning this game, if they can get a turnover and sustain long drives they then could pull it off.
Prediction: Green Bay 41 Giants 24
New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers
A lot has been said about the battle between the best Offense up against the best Defense and all the stats that come along with it. While that is all well and good, something has to said for the competition played. How much better would the Niners be had they played the Saints schedule stat wise? The Niners consistently played the top defenses in the league while the Saints played against the bottom half. This will be a factor in the outcome of this game. When a team plays great defenses, the offense is that much better for it. When a team plays poor defenses they are easily frustrated and tend to make errors. I heard one analyst this year say that the Packers would have the toughest match up in week 15 against the Chiefs, and turned out he was right. His reasons were more about player personnel as the reason for the match up issues that would frustrate the Packers. Great defenses create match up problems for the offense instead of the other way around. How the Saints react should they struggle moving the ball, will be key to the outcome of this game. Should they react as others do, look for the game to get away from them. So I have given a lot of thought to this game and I know people will say I am crazy. There is no way this will be a blow out but I have looked at a lot film, done my homework and feel good about my prediction.
Prediction: San Francisco 30 Saints 17
While the score does not scream blow out the Saints will have scored late to make it look better than it was.
By Mike Zamora