By Josh Kramer
We have gone from 32 to 12 to 8. By the end of this weekend, we will be at 4. Wild-Card weekend lived up to its name. It was a weekend of “Wild Cards.” Namely, Mr. Tim Tebow. Enough time has been spent discussing Tebow as of late though. How about the phenomenal play of Eli Manning and Drew Brees? Perhaps Eli actually is an “elite” quarterback as he stated this summer? A win at Lambeau on Sunday could do a lot to ensure that the Eli-haters stay at a minimum. This is really the stage when the “Men” are separated from the “Boys.” The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and not looking ahead is simply impossible. Let’s focus on the present though.
New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers
The Word: This is your classic “Offense” versus “Defense” matchup. If Vic Fangio (49ers D-Coordinator) can develop a scheme to slow down Drew Brees and the amazing Saints offense, he will be known as “Lord” Fangio by the entire country.
The Call: Saints 34 49ers 24
Reasoning: This pick truly defies logic. The New Orleans Saints are one of two teams in NFL history to lose of all of their road playoff games (Saints 0 and 4, Bengals 0 and 5). In addition, the last five times that a top five offensive team has met a team that has had a top five defense in the playoffs, the team with the top defense has won. Though San Francisco’s turnaround has been magnificent, and the future looks bright, the 49ers have not been to the playoffs in nine years. Brees and the Saints are playing their best football at the right time (9 straight wins, 40 or more points in the past 4 games). You can only slow the Brees train so much before you have to put up numbers on offense yourself. I do not trust Alex Smith to put up 30.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
The Word: Tim Tebow versus Tom Brady Part Deux. Will this highly anticipated “rematch” end up being as lackluster as the “Game of the Century Part Deux” was?
The Call: Patriots 34 Broncos 17
Reasoning: I was utterly shocked to see the Broncos beat the Steelers last weekend. I am sure New England was excited though. Nobody likes to look across the line and see guys like James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. This game is in Foxborough. Plus Denver got dismantled by these New England guys just a few weeks ago in Denver. The Patriots flat-out do not lose at home. Tom Brady has not won a playoff game in four years. And you better believe him and his teammates are hungry. The clock will strike “midnight” on “Tebow Time” come Saturday.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
The Word: This game may be as scary as a real Edgar Allen Poe poem for rookie T.J. Yates.
The Call: Ravens 21 Texans 10
Reasoning: Houston is about to embark on their 2nd playoff game ever and their first one on the road. It just so happens their opponent is a Baltimore team that they are 0 and 5 against all-time (including a 29 to 14 loss in Week 6). Plus, M&T Stadium is not exactly the most hospitable venue for visitors. Baltimore, and their scary good defense, are 8 and 0 at home this year. It has been a heck of a run by Houston considering the injuries they have dealt with. The run ends Sunday. This Baltimore team is the only team that could knock off Brady and the lethal Patriots offense.
New York (Giants) at Green Bay Packers
The Word: It is scary how similar this matchup is to the 2007 NFC Championship Game. That may spell serious trouble for Aaron Rodgers and the defending champs.
The Call: Packers 31 Giants 28
Reasoning: This was the game that I debated the most this weekend. I am well aware that the Packers have been the best team in football all year, dating back to their Super Bowl victory last February. There is something unique about this Giants team though. They really bring back memories of the team that took home Super Bowl XLII. In the end though, Green Bay just has too many weapons and will prove too much for a Giants team that finally is clicking on all cylinders. Besides, Aaron Rodgers is playing far better at this time than Brett Favre ever did. Do not sleep on Eli and the G-Men in 2012/2013 though.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.