No Sleep Till Football

Like Brooklyn Except It's Football

2011 NFL Football – Divisional Round Weekend!

The divisional games are certainly not going to disappoint! The NFC is especially good with SF/NO & NY/GB footing the bill. Houston/Baltimore might be the weakest game on the slate, but only because the star power isn’t quite as high. Denver & New England gives us Brady v. Tebow round #2! One thing that is pretty exciting for me is that the NFC got this completely right. If you would have pinned me down and asked me who I thought the 4 best teams in the NFC were, I think I would have said the 49ers, Giants, Saints & Packers. That is exactly what we have with the possibility that the Saints & Packers will meet in the NFC Championship game. It was a perfect setup. In the AFC I probably would have said Patriots, Texans, Ravens & Steelers, but the Broncos beat the Steelers last week so you can’t be upset Pittsburgh didn’t make it into the Final-4 teams in the AFC, plus we have the chance to get a Baltimore/New England AFC Championship game which would pit the 2 best teams in the conference against one another. As Terrell Owens would say, “Get your popcorn ready!”

The NFL starts us off in fine fashion this weekend with the Saints heading to San Francisco. This game obviously is a contrast in styles. The Saints are going to play an up-tempo pass happy game compared to the 49ers who will want to play a very ball-controlled methodical game that can be won on the defensive side of the football. The 49ers actually fared pretty well against pass happy attacks. SF lost their 2nd game of the season to Dallas, but came back and beat Pittsburgh, Detroit and the New York Giants. Unfortunately for 49ers fans, as good as those teams might be offensively, they really don’t hold a candle to the machine that is known as Drew Brees. Last week against Detroit Brees was 33 of 43 for 466 yards & 3TD! Brees isn’t going to beat himself that is for sure, but if the 49ers can take care of the ball and get a few defensive stops, they’ll stay in the game. Remember that keeping Brees off the field might be the best way to stop him. I’m still going with the Saints on this one. Brees simply looks like a man who will not be denied, and I’m not sure that even if everything goes right for the 49ers they’ll be able to beat New Orleans. Keep this stat in mind. On the season SF was #1 in the NFL in TO margin at +28! The Saints ranked #19 at -3. That’s huge, but I simply don’t think Brees is going to throw this one away. SAINTS (-3.5)
Man I wish the two teams were playing in the old school helmets! This game has a similar feel to the Saints/49ers although I don’t think the Patriots offense is as locked in as New Orleans is right now while Denver has nowhere near the kind of defense that the 49ers possess. The teams met back in Week 15 when New England went into Denver and came away with a 41-23 victory. The game was actually a little closer than that & you can even argue that Denver beat themselves. During the game Denver was -3 in TO margin while the Patriots simply had ZERO answer for Denver’s running attack. For the game Denver rushed for 8.1ypc! The problem is that Denver could neither stop Tom Brady for the Patriots ground game & New England actually won the time of possession battle! It’s really odd. Last week Pittsburgh ensured Tebow wouldn’t beat them with the run so Timmy beat them with his arm! I wonder if Belichick will do the same or veer off the Steelers plan? Either way it looks like Denver can do what it wants on a pretty pathetic New England defense. Denver has to avoid turnovers and make a few defensive stops. They do that and they win. On the other hand, I’m taking New England. The Patriots at home? I think New England simply has too much offense! PATRIOTS (-13.5)
These are pretty much the same exact teams when you look at each team through advanced metrics. Baltimore has a better overall defense and a better pass defense, but the Texans are still a top-8 unit in both categories so we are essentially splitting hairs. The big difference to me is that the Texans are going into the Baltimore with a Ray Lewis & Ed Reed led defense to take on a Houston Texans team playing a rookie QB in TJ Yates who will be playing in the most high pressured, most important and most intimidating home crowd of his entire life. It’s one thing to beat Cincinnati who was playing with a rookie QB of their own in your own stadium, it’s quite another to be playing arguably the best defense in the NFL in their own backyard. To me that’s the difference in the game. If you had to look for something I’d be looking to see if Arian Foster can get anything going to try and open up the passing game for Yates. It Matt Schaub were at QB then this would probably be the best matchup of the entire weekend, but I think the inexperience of Yates combined with just how big this game is gives a decisive advantage to Baltimore. The Ravens advance. RAVENS (-7.5)
This is the best game of the weekend by far given how tricky the match-up is. The Giants are rolling at this point. Last week against the Falcons, the Giants defense was absolutely BRUTAL and took away a great passing attack. Matt Ryan is no Aaron Rodgers. Not by a long shot, but the Giants are going to get after Rodgers in the worst way. I’ve said all season long that the Giants are the team with the best game-plan to beat Green Bay. They can run the ball with Jacbos & Bradshaw. They can certainly rush the QB, and they can play a style of football that won’t beat themselves. Another thing in New York’s favor is that Eli Manning is playing out of his mind. The Packers defense is absolutely brutal and if Manning doesn’t make any mistakes in the passing game, then it’s going to be an exceptionally long day for Green Bay as the Giants will move the ball up & down the field. The two teams met in Week 13 when Green Bay made a last second FG to win the game 38-35 in New York. You can argue that the Giants had a better game offensively, but couldn’t get stops. I think they get stops this week & the Giants win. Eli Manning plays better on the road and I think the Giants have the perfect team to pull off the upset. Giants shock the world and defeat the defending Super Bowl Champions. PACKERS (-7.5)

January 13, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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