The dust has settled from Round One of the 2011 NFL Playoffs, and that weekend saw all four Wild Card teams eliminated from the playoffs, one-by-one, including a thrilling finish to the weekend as Denver quarterback Tim Tebow threw an 80-yard pass to Demaryus Thomas on the first play of overtime to upset defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh, a game parodied by singer (and Denver resident) John Parr, who re-did his 1985 hit "Man in Motion" from the film St. Elmo's Fire to the tune of Tim Tebow's Fire.
WILDCARD PICKS: 3-1
# 3 New Orleans Saints (14-3) at # 2 San Francisco 49ers (13-3)- 4:30PM EST at Candlestick Park (San Francisco, CA)
# 4 Denver Broncos (9-8] at # 1 New England Patriots (13-3)- 8PM EST at Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, MA)
# 3 Houston Texans (11-6) at # 2 Baltimore Ravens (12-4)- 1PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD)
# 4 New York Giants (10-7) at # 1 Green Bay Packers (15-1)- 4:30PM EST at Lambeau Field (Green Bay, WI)
Here's How It Will Pan Out This Weekend:
Both # 3 seeds have things working against them in these matchups. The Saints have only won one postseason game outside of the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome, and that one game was Super Bowl XLIV. The Texans are 0-5 all-time against the Ravens, including a 29-14 loss on October 16, also at M&T Bank Stadium.
The other two matchups are rematches from games played last month. The Patriots put "Tebow Time" on a break with a decisive 41-23 win on December 18. The Packers edged the G-Men 38-35 on December 4, Green Bay's closest test before their eventual loss to Kansas City in Romeo Crennel's coaching debut with the Chiefs on December 18.
The Giants will give the Pack another test, after they (almost) shut out Atlanta on Sunday, as the Giants defense is peeking at the right time. The 49ers did not allow a rushing touchdown until Christmas Eve in Seattle, and their defense is tough, but will they stop record-shattering quarterback Drew Brees?
Green Bay 30, NY Giants 27
New Orleans 30, San Francisco 13
Baltimore 28, Houston 6
New England 34, Denver 3
With that said...based on the predictions...
AFC Championship (3PM EST on Jan. 22)- # 2 Baltimore Ravens at # 1 New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium; Foxborough, MA)
NFC Championship (6:30PM EST on Jan. 22)- # 3 New Orleans Saints at # 1 Green Bay Packers (in a rematch of the regular season opener; Lambeau Field; Green Bay, WI)