The first round of the 2011/12 NFL Playoffs was entirely predictable until the wild upset of the mighty (but wounded) Pittsburgh Steelers at the hands of Tim Tebow. Last week my picks were 3 for 4 (2 of 4 against the spread), so we'll see if I can improve this week.
Packers 27 Giants 24
The Packers have a few problems and the Giants match-up well against those weaknesses. The Green Bay passing attack is the best in the league, but their offensive line is seriously depleted and NYG's greatest strength is their defensive line. That's a problem. Eli can move the ball on the Packers weak defense, and Rodgers needs to make quick decisions and quicker throws or he'll spend a lot of time on his back. This will be a close game, but Green Bay finishes on top.
Saints 24 49ers 20
Sure they aren't playing in a dome, but it is hard to bet against this Saints offense. That O-line dominated the Lions supposedly ferocious (possibly overrated) pass rush. They just have too many weapons, and Alex Smith does not excite me. The 49ers defense is formidable, but if Brees is on, he's on. After losing to Seattle unexpectedly last season there is a good reason to doubt New Orleans, but after this season, Brees has to be favoured.
Patriots 27 Broncos 17
Do I believe in Tebow? No, at least not in terms of being a dominant playoff performer. He'll be a decent regular season QB for years to come, I just don't see him doing this against elite competition. They upset the Steelers because Pit reached a critical mass of injuries, still good enough to force overtime. I don't see the Pats as a Super Bowl champion, but they might be the best team in the AFC despite their defensive flaws.
Ravens 21 Texans 17
I don't really like either of these teams, but I'd rather have Joe Flacco than TJ Yates and Baltimore has a better defense. I'm tempted to bump this down to 21 - 14, but since I'd never take the Ravens +7 in a Flacco playoff game, 21 - 17 feels just about right. Ultimately this could come down to who is better, Ray Rice or Arian Foster.