New Orleans -3.5 At San Francisco
Here’s something everyone knows: The Saints play better when the play indoors. But wait, now they have to travel to the harsh conditions of San Francisco, where they’ll face temperatures in the 60s and a zero percent chance of rain. This indoor/outdoor stuff is nonsense. Will the Saints ridiculous offense be slowed a little bit by running on real grass? Yea, probably, but don’t tell me that this matchup in SF is going to totally derail Brees and company because they’re not used to playing in sunny weather. Look, the 49ers are not a bad team. It’s not their fault they play in the watered down NFC West. They can stop the run, minimize turnovers and grind games out. This team is super good at field goals. But the Saints don’t kick field goals. They score touchdowns. Lots of ‘em. Sure the Saints have never won a road playoff game (0-4), but the team averages 150 more passing yards a game and 10 more points a game than the Niners. If San Francisco stalls in the redzone, which they so often do, then this game won’t even be close. I totally get that the 49ers have the best rushing defense in the league and they can pressure the quarterback and create takeaways and all that, but the Niners D will need to create multiple game changing plays to keep the team in the game. Go with the team that’s scored at least 40 points in the last four games over a team that’s allowed just 10 total points in their last three home games.
Pick: Saints -3.5

At New England -14 Denver
I can’t figure out which remaining AFC team I like the least. They’re all flawed, really. It’s going to be hard for this conference to knock off whatever team takes home the NFC crown. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick used to be a force in the playoffs, but the Pats have been unceremoniously bounced out of the postseason early the last two years, at home no less. The Pats haven’t covered against the spread in the playoffs since 2006. The Pats also have difficulty covering double digit spreads of late. I think Tebow played the game of his life, and it’s going to be hard to repeat that performance from last week. I fully expect the Pats to win this one. Still, covering two touchdowns is an awful lot to ask, especially when you’re up against a team that’s primary game plan will be to grind minutes of the clock and keep Tom Brady on the sidelines. Pats win but don’t cover.
Pick: Broncos +14

At Baltimore -7.5 Houston
I’m not sold on either of these teams. They’re similar in that they’re both run-focused squads with top-shelf defenses that prefer a more smashmout approach to the game. The Texans can manhandle people at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but the last time these two teams met, Ray Rice went off and Flacco threw for 305 yards. Matt Schaub was bottled up and so was Arian Foster. The Ravens D also racked up three sacks. Baltimore dominated that game. The Ravens are 8-0 when playing at home, so I think the home field advantage really does play a factor in this game. I still don’t trust Flacco, though. This game should come down to a game changing defensive play. I bet it’s the Texans, not the Ravens, who make it. The Texans haven’t lost by more than a TD all year. Don’t see it happening in a low scoring game.
Pick: Texans +7.5

At Green Bay -7.5 NY Giants
It’s amazing how much respect the Giants are getting with this spread. The G Men kept it close when these two teams met in the Meadowlands a few weeks ago, and the Giants are certainly benefiting from their performances the last two weeks against Dallas and Atlanta. The Giants aren’t going to get blown out, but I fully expect them to lose. Sure, Green Bay’s secondary is vulnerable and Eli Manning has the weapons to exploit that. The Giants pass rush is incredible as well, but I just think the Packers are more likely to not show up flat. G-Men keep it close, but Green Bay pulls away.
Pick: Packers -7.5

Last Week: 2-2

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