By Wesley Kaminsky
The divisional playoffs started off with a bang Saturday afternoon, when the 49ers and Saints combined for 28 points in the final four minutes of the game, with Alex Smith hitting Vernon Davis for the winning touchdown with nine seconds left. That game was just more proof of the amazing job Jim Harbaugh has done this season in San Francisco, and it’s not over yet. Harbaugh transformed Alex Smith from Ryan Leaf to Joe Montana. (Okay, at least for one game). He inherited an almost identical 49ers team that struggled in 2010 and made them a contender. There is something about that Harbaugh family.
After the thriller in San Francisco, the world was geared in for what was supposed to be the game of the weekend: Broncos at Patriots.
Tim Tebow vs. Tom Brady. As it turned out, if you missed this game, you didn’t miss much. Before you could even catch your breath, the Patriots took a 7-0 lead, and it was just a sign of things to come. Tom Brady threw for six touchdowns in a 45-10 commanding victory over the Broncos, connecting with Rob Gronkowski for three of them. The Patriots put an end to the “Tim Tebow Mania,” as Tebow couldn’t get anything going all night. As for Tim Tebow? Yeah the season ended ugly, but he outdid anyone’s wildest expectations set for him. Tebow inherited a 1-4 team, led them to a division title, and won a playoff team against the best defense in football. Not bad for a quarterback who will “never find success in the NFL” right?
The good news for NFL fans is that things were just getting started for the weekend, as two more games were on deck for Sunday. In game one, the Ravens narrowly escaped over the Texans 20-13, in a game that they really didn’t have much business winning. Joe Flacco will need to be light years better in Foxborough this week if the Ravens want to have any shot of winning. Tom Brady is not T.J Yates, that’s for sure.
Then finally the last game of the weekend rolled around, in a rematch between the Giants and the Packers. After winning at Lambeau Field in 2007 en route to the Super Bowl, the Giants did it once again on Sunday, taking down the 15-1 Packers, 37-20. Eli Manning was brilliant all game long and the Giants defense stifled the seemingly “invincible” Aaron Rodgers. For the Packers, you can’t really blame this one on Rodgers though. Sure, he wasn’t his normal self, but he didn’t get much help from his weapons on offense, as the Packers dropped eight passes and had two key fumbles by John Kuhn and Ryan Grant. The Packers 32nd ranked defense didn’t help matters either, as they gave up over 400 yards of total offense. Ouch.
1. New England Patriots: The Patriots won their first playoff game in four years on Sunday and now are just a win away from returning to the Super Bowl.
2. San Francisco 49ers: As long as Alex Smith plays with the confidence he displayed against the Saints, the 49ers have a real chance at getting to Indianapolis.
3. New York Giants: The Giants are the hottest team in football right now and a team that nobody wants to face. It’s scary how much this is reminiscent of their 2008 Super Bowl run.
4. Baltimore Ravens: If Joe Flacco wants to shed his image as an “average” quarterback, he can beat Tom Brady on Sunday in New England. Good luck, Joe.
Patriots 24, Ravens 20.
Giants 27, 49ers 24.
(TheSportsKraze will provide his picks on Friday in his weekly NFL picks)
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.