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NFL Playoff Divisional Round Picks


NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round
 
Saturday, Jan. 14
 
4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)New Orleans Saints (14-3) at San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
I don't know why I'm hung up on the weather so much, and what it might do to the Saints' offense. I think it's because every time I've covered a January playoff game at Candlestick, it rains for 40 days and 40 nights prior to it, and the turf is a spongy mess. That, of course, would negate the impact of Darren Sproles and the only slightly less speedy Robert Meachem. But it's not going to be cruddy, and so I see the Saints being able to play the game they want to play. And Sproles remains the most dangerous non-quarterback still in the playoffs.
 
8 p.m. ET (CBS)Denver Broncos (9-8) at New England Patriots (13-3)
The Broncos don't need to worry about getting Gronked here. They have to worry about getting killed by both tight ends. Aaron Hernandez had nine catches the first time these teams played this season, a month ago in Denver, proving Rob Gronkowski isn't the only one who can obliterate a defense among New England's tight ends. Gronkowski and Hernandez combined for 169 catches this season, and that's going to be the most difficult factor for Denver to address here. I don't see enough quality cover men to cover those two plus Wes Welker, and Brady will feast.
 
Sunday, Jan. 15
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Houston Texans (11-6) at Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Joe Flacco's right: He's never going to have the big numbers in the Baltimore offense -- but that's not only because the Ravens have a great runner in Ray Rice. It's because Flacco hasn't progressed as a passer the way the team had hoped. His 57.6-percent accuracy was 25th in the league this year, and how are you going to have your offensive coordinator and your head coach trust you to be a bombs-away guy when you're completing passes at a Kevin Kolb rate? I think Rice out-runs Arian Foster here anyway.
 
4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)New York Giants (10-7) at Green Bay Packers (15-1)
There's something about the Giants that the Packers can't quite shoo away. It's called a pass rush. New York can get pressure on Aaron Rodgers rushing four men, which leaves seven back to clog passing lanes and makes life a little more difficult for Rodgers to find open receivers. The Packers, though, have a great deep-ball thrower, and with Aaron Ross and Corey Webster having shown themselves to be susceptible to the deep throw -- and with Greg Jennings due back from his late-season knee sprain -- I like the heavy-hearted Packers. They'll be playing to win, too, for offensive coordinator Joe Philbin after the drowning death of his son.
 
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