BRONCOS at PATRIOTS
This is an article from the Jan. 16, 2012 issue
SATURDAY, 8:00 P.M. ET
It was fun while it lasted. But the absence of pile-driving guard Chris Kuper will hurt Denver's run game, and the loss of trolling-the-middle wideout Eric Decker takes away a valuable Tim Tebow target. The Pats have had a grim year covering receivers—they were 31st in the league in pass defense—but expect them to constantly use a safety over the top of Demaryius Thomas, which is something Pittsburgh wishes it had done. I can't see Denver covering the Pats' tight ends well—meaning the Broncos' season will not end well.
Patriots 30, Broncos 16
TEXANS at RAVENS
SUNDAY, 1:00 P.M. ET
Ray Rice versus Arian Foster. Who wins? The rested Rice because he has a better QB to threaten the opposing secondary. And though the Texans have done well covering speed receivers, the explosive Torrey Smith will test them deep while Anquan Boldin wins physical battles over the middle. Watch the Ravens consistently put a safety near the edges to contain Foster. I look for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to feed Rice at least 25 times. Cameron and coach John Harbaugh both know Rice is their Super Bowl ticket.
Ravens 30, Texans 20