Anyone got the time? Don’t look confused, you know what I’m on about . . .
The Denver Broncos train rolls into Foxborough this weekend but before that is a tasty encounter between the free scoring New Orleans Saints and the rejuvenated San Francisco 49ers.
The Saints led by the record-breaking Drew Brees have taken the second half of the season by storm going undefeated since week 8 of the regular season.
Seemingly scoring at will, Brees surpassed Dan Marino’s long-standing regular season passing yards record with a total of 5,476 in a year that has been dominated by the quarterback position with Brady and Stafford also throwing for more than five thousand yards.
Brees’ biggest weapon has been second year tight end Jimmy Graham out of Miami. Graham caught the ball 99 times and made 1,310 yards scoring 11 touchdowns in the process and if New Orleans are to make yards on a tough 49ers defence, this partnership must flourish.
Possibly the greatest acquisition in the preseason throughout the entire league was Darren Sproles. The 5ft6″ dynamo looks like a talent reborn after his release from San Diego Chargers and is just as big a threat when thrown to as he is dancing through opposition defences.
The team standing between the Saints and a potential mega showdown with the reigning Superbowl champs Green Bay is the NFC West conquerors San Francisco.
The turn around from last season has been outstanding, no great changes to the roster were needed with the exception of sacking supreme Aldon Smith. Rookie Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has given confidence to a stuttering franchise and unlocked the talent in Alex Smith that niners fans have been waiting to see since they gave up the opportunity to draft Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft.
The main running threat for the niners is Pro Bowler Frank Gore who finised the regular season with over 1,000 yards rushing and 8 hard fought touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball the Niners have been nothing short of brilliant, conceeding only three rushing touchdowns all year. When looked at closely this becomes an even greater achievement as they are in the same division as running backs Marshawn Lynch and Steven Jackson who are able to power through most defences at will.
Linebacker Patrick Willis has been a rock in defense in his five years in San Francisco and that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. This season has seen a slight dip in on field performance but his impact on the team is still huge and he will once again be key to the 49ers chances.
If San Francisco are to win then it will have to be a close game because they do not have the offense to be involved in a high scoring shootout. New Orleans are the form team coming into this game and I believe that will be a key factor with the Saints coming out on top. As long as they can cope with an open air stadium. . .
New Orleans Saints 32 – 17 San Francisco 49ers
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New England are in the playoffs, AGAIN, yawn!
Brady and his poor defense have made it through to the post season once again and almost nobody even noticed.
Gronkowski and Hernandez have been exceptional for the Patriots and have been able to dig the defence out of some deep holes on the way. Rob Gronkowski has scored 17 touchdowns and made 1,327 yards to Aaron Hernandez’s 7 touchdowns and 910 yards.
On the outside wide receiver Wes Welker has had his biggest season to date with 1,569 yards and 9 touchdowns, a far cry from his unproductive days in sunny Miami.
The New England defense is ranked 31st in the league, the only team ranked worse is 15-1 Green Bay Packers ‘0_O’, and if it wasn’t for Tom, the Pats would be in dire straits.
Vince Wilfork has only 3.5 sacks so far this season and that goes some way to explaining the problems faced on defense so far. Devin McCourty was a ProBowl selection last year but has failed to reach the same heights this year.
With the option attack of the Broncos on the horizon even the most die-hard Patriot fans will be fearing Timothy and his merry men.
Tim Tebow, what can I say that hasn’t been said?
Tim started the season behind starting quarterback Kyle Orton on the Denver Broncos depth chart much to the annoyance of the Bronco fans who have been ecstatic since his arrival in 2010 NFL Draft.
When he got his chance after Orton’s woeful beginning most critics were, well, critical of the teams chances with this unconventional quarterback at the helm but as Tim does best (apart from fourth quarter drives), he proved them all wrong by leading them to the playoffs, something that looked a distant fantasy a few months back.
Von Miller was Denver’s first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and he has stepped up to the professional game with absolute ease culminating in 11.5 sacks and that was with a cast on his right hand. Add Miller to the mix of Bailey, Dumervill and Williams and you have one very productive defense.
Denver have a strong running game with McGahee, Ball and of course Tebow and have one of the best offensive lines in the business to protect the elusive Tim.
I think it’s clear to see who I favour in this contest (Denver Broncos) but I do believe Brady and his poor defense will come away with the victory.
Denver Broncos 13 – 21 New England Patriots