SAINTS at 49ERS
This is an article from the Jan. 16, 2012 issue
SATURDAY, 4:30 P.M. ET
Darren Sproles plays at a different speed from everyone else, even the lightning-fast San Francisco linebackers. And Drew Brees will need him badly on Saturday. The way Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio attacks the passer, Brees won't know what lanes the rush is coming from and won't have as much time to go downfield. That means he'll have to use Sproles to get the ball in space and make the Niners miss. Good news for Sproles: The forecast is dry, so he shouldn't be cutting in what often is a January quagmire in San Francisco.
Saints 23, 49ers 19
GIANTS at PACKERS
SUNDAY, 4:30 P.M. ET
New York has the best pass rush left in the playoffs, with the precocious Jason Pierre-Paul unblockable by one man. The Giants should rush just four, keeping an extra man back to patrol the secondary and make Packers receivers run through traffic. But in the end Aaron Rodgers will make the plays in the fourth quarter to win the best game of the playoff weekend. One proviso: I don't think Green Bay can cover Victor Cruz in the open field, and if he gets loose like he did against Dallas and the Jets, it could spark a huge upset.
Packers 24, Giants 23