The Sherms’ NFL Divisional Playoffs Forecast

I swear I can I hear the words coming out of Mora's mouth

 

by Ryan Sherman

Happy Friday Horn-balls. It’s about that time to cruise into the weekend and get excited for the upcoming slate of Divisional Round PLAYOFF?!?#@?! Games. Without further ado….

 

Saturday 4:30pm

Saints (#3) at 49ers (#3) ♣♣♣♣

The 49ers had a heckuva year, and their D may be the best in the NFC, if not the whole League. Unfortunately, even with Frank Gore running the ball, their Offense is subpar. Alex Smith simply is nothing more than a decent NFL QB, and when forced to play from behind and/or in a shootout (neither of which he had to do too much in the regular season, in large part due to the Niners’ garbage Division and easy schedule) he won’t be able to compete with the Saints’ firepower.

Look for the Saints to pull out to an early lead and coast from there. Brees will throw 5 TDs (Graham, Sproles, Meachem, Henderson and Colston). The Niners will have to wait a season for another overly aggressive Jim Harbaugh congratulatory handshake.

Prediction: Saints 35 – 49ers 20

Can the 49ers sack the Saints, or will Brees bust out the soundproof earmuffs?

 

Saturday 8pm

Broncos (#4) at Patriots (#1) §§§§

So Tim Tebow goes 7-1 and his critics start rethinking their position on his ability…and on the possibility of a higher power. Then he goes 0-3 to close out the season, and criticism is heard louder than ever. However, as divine intervention would have it, somehow the Broncos still sneak into the playoffs as the AFC West Champs by virtue of a three-way tiebreaker with the Oakland Choke-Artists and San Diego Norvs (all 8-8).

Of course, they couldn’t possibly beat the mighty 12-4 Steelers in the Wild Card Round. Well, not unless Big Ben plays at 50%, Rashard Mendenhal suffers a season-ending injury the week before, and Ryan Clark has to sit because of his sickle-cell and the altitude. So…yeah…all of those three things happened, and the Broncos — after blowing a 14 point lead in regulation – won the game on an 80-yard Tebow-to-Demaryius Thomas TD in overtime. Oh yeah, it was the first play of overtime. BELIEVE.

Despite probably having G*d firmly on his side, Tebow and the Broncos will have their hands full with the Patriots. Stopping the Brady bunch (especially Gronkowski, Welker and Hernandez) is basically impossible and there’s no way that the Patriots put up less than 27 points. That said, I see Tebow registering a rushing TD and a passing TD, and Willis McGahee adding a rushing TD of his own.

Sadly, I think the Broncos fall short…though I hope I’m wrong because besides liking Tebow and hating the Patriots, the Josh McDaniels post-season hire rises to the level of sanctioned-cheating shadiness that surprises me…even coming from the Patriots.

Prediction: Patriots 30 – Broncos 24

"Praying isn't the only thing I can do while Tebowing"

 

Sunday 1pm

Texans (#3) at Ravens (#2) §§§

Can the Texans make it to the AFC Championship game with third-string QB Tyler (“TJ”) Yates at the helm? I think so, especially with Arian Foster and Andre Johnson still suiting up in Houston.

The Ravens have been tough all year, and enter this game a 7.5 point favorite, but I’m not convinced that Joe Flacco has the goods to take the Purple Birds over the (Divisional round) hump. Sure, they have Ray Rice, and a great Defense, but I have a feeling the capable Texans’ D is going to frustrate Flacco and force him to make mistakes.

Look for the Texans to record 4 sacks, and for Flacco to throw 2 INTs and lose one fumble. On the other side of the ball, I see Arian don’t call me ‘Barry’ Foster rushing for 100+ yards and scoring two TDs, and Yates adding a TD pass of his own.

Prediction: Texans 24 – Ravens 20

Will it be this easy for Rice on Sunday?

 

Sunday 4:30pm

Giants (#4) at Packers (#1) §§§§

Watching the Giants this past month, I can’t help but to be reminded of 2007. Specifically, the Giants played mediocre football all season only, but they almost beat the then-undefeated Packers, and won their final two must-win games against the Jets and Cowboys to take the NFC East.

In 2007 (2008 playoffs) the Giants got a re-match with the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and we all know what happened there. Unlike the 2007 Patriots, the 2011 Packers (15-1) have lost since their initial foray with the G-Men but, nonetheless, Eli Manning and Co. can now bounce the best team in the regular season from the tournament.

The Giants might shut out the Flacons offense last week, but beating the Packers will be no easy task. Aaron Rodgers was unstoppable all year and his fleet of receivers will get open if given any time at all. Therein lies the rub…the Giants pass rush is peaking right now and could bring heat that Rodgers hasn’t seen all year. That said, I still see the Packers scoring between 27-34 points.

The question thus becomes what will the Giants do on offense? Somehow, Brandon Jacobs looks like a formidable power back again (I, for one, wrote him off as slow and washed up mid-season) and Ahmad Bradshaw is also running well. Eli Manning may have his best WR core ever with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks playing like human-highlight-reels (and don’t sleep on Mario Manningham, either). I see Eli throwing for 3 TDs and either Jacobs or Bradshaw running for one more. That “one more” will put ‘em over the top.

Prediction: Giants 31 – Packers 30

The moment immediately before Rodgers crapped himself