New Orleans at San Francisco
If this game was in New Orleans, the Saints win easy, probably like 35-16. The dome, the turf and the crowd would scare a team like the Niners (particularly Alex Smith) and their inability to score touchdowns would hurt greatly there. Lucky for San Francisco, they are at Candlestick, on that grass than can be longer and perhaps a bit muddy as most big Niners games were. Bill Barnwell showed us the stat that the Saints score about 2 touchdowns less a game on the road than at home. I was leaning Saints all week long, but then I started thinking, how many times does the road favorite win? It didn't happen last week in Denver. Saints lost in Seattle last year in the same fashion, though the Packers did win in Chicago for the NFC Title and the Ravens won in Kansas City as a favorite last year as well. That's a small sample size, so who do I go with. It's wrong to call the 2 seed beating a 3 seed an upset, but the Niners will win 19-17 and we finally give Jim Harbaugh and his defense some legitimate praise for shutting down a dominant offense.
Denver at New England
Will it be Tebow Time again? We know that Tebow will have to score like he did in Pittsburgh if there's any chance for his Broncos. Denver lucked out that Pittsburgh was a MASH unit by the end and Ben Roethlisberger couldn't move around the pocket creating plays like normal. Tom Brady won't need that. I don't see who defends the Pats TE's Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. And while the Pats defense isn't good, they can ballhawk. Did you know that the Patriots led the AFC in takeaways, third in the league? So while they might lose coverage of players, they can make up for it by causing a turnover. I fully believe the Pats continue to play defense to stop the run, without selling out the deep ball like the Steelers did. New England wins in a walk, 45-17.
Come back tomorrow for the Sunday picks.