NFL Predictions: NFC Divisional Round
By Thomas Hair
Online Copy Editor
The Dallas Cowboys are experiencing the NFL Playoffs from their sofas once again, but that has not prevented infectious postseason excitement from spreading throughout Coppell. The Wild Card round was full of excitement, highlighted by Tebow’s overtime magic lifting Denver over heavy favorites Pittsburgh. With four matchups pitting the league’s best teams and everything on the line, the second round is sure to have more thrilling performances in store. Below I will give my take on the two NFC Divisional Round games and briefly predict who advances, and who goes home.
New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers
Despite not being one of the top two teams in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints and their record-breaking offense have been touted as a Super Bowl favorite. The Saints looked convincing in their 45-28 disposal of Detroit last week and are riding a nine game winning streak, with 40+ points in each of the last four games. On the other side of the field will be a team that is almost the polar opposite: the San Francisco 49ers. San Fransisco’s trump card is its defense – one that had not allowed a single touchdown run until the very last game of the season. This Divisional Round matchup is the most intriguing one of the season thus far because it pits the NFL’s most explosive offense against its most stringent defense. Although I was not impressed with the Niners when I watched my Dallas Cowboys defeat them in week 2, they dominated thereafter. The Saints posted inexcusable losses to the lowly Rams and Bucs and have one of the worst defenses in the league. My Prediction: “Defense Wins Championships”. 49ers advance after a gritty 23-21 contest
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
As a Cowboys fan, I am very familiar with the New York Giants. And as an avid NFL fan, I am also very familiar with the Packers‘ near-perfect 15-1 season. At first glance, this game seems like an obvious choice. The Packers have the best record in the league, while the Giants barely snuck into the playoffs at 9-7. But in the playoffs it’s all about who has momentum – who’s hot. And just like in 2007 when they toppled 16-0 New England in the Super Bowl, the G-Men are getting hot at the right time. As a Cowboy fan, I loathe the Giants, but I am well aware of how dangerous of a team they can be when all on the same page. Osi Umenyiora is finally healthy again and adds a whole other dimension to New York’s pass rush, not to mention Jason Pierre-Paul. Despite struggling in the run game for most of the season, in the past few weeks (especially in their 24-2 throttling of Atlanta in the Wild Card round) the Giants’ duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs has been hitting a groove. In short, it’s all coming together at the right time for the Giants and they rolling an all cylinders. But no matter how well the Giants play, it may not be enough. Green Bay is led by the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers, and they will do anything it takes to defend their title. My Prediction: The Giants lost to the Packers 38-35 in the regular season. This time they get the job done, 31-27.