Tebow-Mania derailed my bid for a perfect 4-0 record for Week 1 of the NFL Playoffs. This week’s picks focus on all of the divisional round games. This weekend’s games are as scheduled:

Saturday, 4:30 PM: New Orleans Saints (-3) at San Francisco 49ers;
Saturday, 8:00 PM: Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (-13.5);
Sunday, 1:00 PM: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5);
Sunday, 4:30 PM: New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (-8)

Will Tim 'Tebow' His Way Into The AFC Championship?

Game #1: New Orleans at San Francisco

What a great game to kick off the divisional round. The New Orleans Saints are the NFL’s hottest offense right now. They are scored (and threw) their way into the record books during the regular season. The Saints were 10-1 when playing indoors, but were just 3-2 when playing outside. The Saints margin of victory when playing inside was 17 PPG. That margin of victory dropped to just seven PPG when playing inside. Of the teams New Orleans played, no team presents the challenges that the 49ers bring to the table. The 49ers have the NFL’s top ranked defense. The stingy Niners have allowed just 14.3 PPG (second best), 77.3 rushing yards per game (best in NFL), and 42 sacks (seventh best). The Niner rank towards the middle of the pack in terms of pass defense, but have picked off 23 passes (second best).

On offense, the Niners are a bread-and-butter, smash mash rushing team. The Niners averaged 128 yards per game on the ground (eighth best). Quarterback Alex Smith orchestrates the offense and only committed five turnovers. As a whole, the Niner offense has turned the ball over just ten times this year (best in the NFL).

The efficiency and ball control of the Niner offense, coupled with the stifling defense has placed the Niners atop the take-away, give-away rankings at +28. The Saints on the other hand, rank tenth with -3. I think this is will be key difference in the game.

America is drinking the Saint Kool-Aid and rightfully so. High scoring offenses are exciting and the Saints have been electric. This match-up will come down to the NO offense against the SF Defense. I’ll take the home team, in their windtunnel, in an ‘upset’.

The Pick: San Francisco

Game #2: Denver at New England

I’ll admit that I’m afraid to pick against Tebow-Mania again. Tim Tebow always find a way to win games and plays with the type of reckless abondon that every player should possess. However, Tebow is running into a team that is desperate for a home playoff victory. Believe it or not, the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game since the 2007 Playoffs. And that’s when Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator. Well, after two unsucccessful coaching attempt outside of Belichick-land, McDaniels is back on Belichick’s staff, coaching against Tebow, the player he drafted in the first round last season.

The Patriots beat-up on the Broncos in Week 15, 41-23. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were Tom Brady’s favorite targets. Tom was Tom, completing 23 of 34 for 320 yards and two touchdowns. Tom was binkin’ and boopin’ all over Miles High Stadium. On the other side of the ball, Tebow and Co. were bashing and ramming Patriot defenders. Denver rolled up New England for 252 rushing yards in the game. Denver ran for an unsightly 176 yards in the first quarter, so give the Patriots a little bit of credit for making adjustments. The Patriots did not have linebacker Brandon Spikes or safety Patrick Chung for that match-up. They’ll have them this time.

While I am skeptical to do it, I’m picking New England. With three straight years of first game eliminations, Bill and Tom need a win here. To me, their legacy (more Bill than Tom) starts to take a hit with each playoff loss. If Belichick wants to be in the same breath as the Tom Landry’s of the league, he has to win at least one more Super Bowl title. The Patriots are desperate to win and they will.

The Pick: New England

Game #3: Houston at Baltimore

This will be the ugliest game of the weekend. Both teams pride themselves on two facets of the game–bruising ground attacks and smash mouth defensive play. The Texans come to Baltimore after a convincing Wildcard Weekend victory over the Bengals. Running back Arian Foster ran for over 160 yards and two scores in the win. The Ravens will unleash their own beast of a running back, Ray Rice. Rice had an excellent season, racking up 2,000 total yards and 15 TDs. While both Foster and Rice are elite players, the Texans and Ravens are two of the league’s best against the run. Yardage will be tough to come by in this one.

Alike Denver and New England, Houston and Baltimore squared off in Week 6 in Baltimore. The Ravens ran away with the game, 29-14. The Texans had their starting quarterback, Matt Schaub for this, but did not have stud wide receiver, Andre Johnson. Johnson scored a touchdown last week against Cincy and appears to be somewhat healthy. However, there is a clear dropoff in talent bewteen Schaub and TJ Yates.

With all of the great QB play in the NFL, Joe Flacco is going unnoticed. Flacco won his first four playoff games as a starter and manages the Raven offense. Flacco is also aided by two great weapons on the outside, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.

For me, these two teams are carbon copies of each other. Great defensive coordinators, great against the run, and stud running backs. However, the Ravens have the coaching, home field and quarterback edge. That’s good enough to send them to the AFC Championship.

The Pick: Baltimore

Game #4: New York Giants at Green Bay

No analysis needed.

The Pick: New York Giants