NFL Divisional Playoffs: CBS Local Sports Picks
CBS Local talent and sportscasters from across the country are giving you their insight on this week’s Divisional Playoff matchups. Catch the picks from each of our experts to see who will be the victor in these games: Denver at New England, Houston at Baltimore, New Orleans at San Francisco & New York Giants at Green Bay. Let us know your picks and the final scores in the comment section below!
Joe Benigno | CBS New York – WFAN
Patriots 38, Broncos 10
If Tebow wins this game, then I know there’s “Divine Intervention” going on. Just can’t see Belichick losing three straight years at home in his first playoff game. Gradkowski and Hernandez run wild on the Broncos defense.
Ravens 20, Texans 7
TJ Yates and company get a rude awakening at the hands of the ferocious Baltimore defense playing their first home playoff game in the John Harbough era. Big day for Ray Rice.
49ers 24, Saints 21
Everybody’s talking about New Orleans and Green Bay. Everyone’s sleeping on San Francisco. They were 13-3 for a reason. Complete contrast in styles. SF doesn’t beat themselves plus they have a 28 differential in turnovers this year. They’ll control the football enough to keep Brees on the sideline. Win it on a late David Akers field goal.
Packers 30, Giants 20
As well as Giants played in the beat down of Falcons, Green Bay is 15-1 for a reason. Aaron Rodgers won’t make the critical mistake like Favre did in the 2007 Championship game.
Rich Lord | CBS Houston – KILT
Patriots 27, Broncos 14
Tim Tebow’s breakthrough sophomore season in the NFL has been amazing, even miraculous, to watch. However, I just can’t envision him pulling off another miracle this week. Yes, the Patriots’ defense is one of the worst in the NFL against the pass, but Tebow is not the guy to exploit that weakness. Denver may be able to move the football, but I think that New England will get takeaways and set up it’s offense with a few short fields. Yes, the Broncos’ defense is for real, but Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski will take advantage of those opportunities. Bottom line: Bill Belichick is still the best. There’s no way he lets Tebow extend the Pats’ post-season losing streak to four.
Texans 26, Ravens 24
I view this game as a potential, “changing-of-the-guard” among elite AFC defenses; Baltimore has long set the standard, but the Texans are coming on strong. 4 sacks and 3 takeaways against the Bengals last week as well as a second-half shutout effort sent a clear message that after a brief hiatus, Wade Phillips’ hellraisers are back with a vengeance. I expect them to dominate Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and company, even without all-world pass rusher Mario Williams. Offensively, wide receiver Andre Johnson is in peak form after missing 9-plus games due to injury. His presence changes everything, providing a great complement to Arian Foster and making rookie quarterback T. J. Yates look like a seasoned veteran. Out with the old and in with the new.
49ers 31, Saints 28
It’s hard to go against New Orleans after such an impressive playoff opener versus the Lions, but I really think that the Niners are the real deal. Runningback Frank Gore will be the key to pulling off the upset as the only way to keep Drew Brees and company from putting up monster offensive numbers is to keep the Saints’ offense off the field. Not only do the Niners have a potent rush offense, they also had the best turnover margin in the NFL this season; an eye-popping +28. Throw in a great receiver like Michael Crabtree, a 7-1 record at Candlestick Park, a fantastic defense and the fact that New Orleans has NEVER won a road playoff game, and all the ingredients are there for the upset.
Giants 27, Packers 24
Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL. Sometimes that doesn’t make a difference. This is one of those times. Why? Let’s start with the Giants’ defense, which features a front seven playing as well as any unit left standing in this post-season. I expect them to get to Rodgers, disrupting his rhythm and preventing him from exploiting a shaky secondary. That will help New York win the time of possession battle, which is huge. The Packers have been getting by with a very suspect defense all season. In this one, they’ll face a potent runningback tandem of Jacobs and Bradshaw and a QB/WR combo of Manning and Cruz that has been downright unstoppable. The Giants are a much better team now than the one that almost upset Green Bay 6 weeks ago.
Brett Jensen | CBS Charlotte – WFNZ
New England 34, Denver 13
Tim Tebow might have pulled out another miracle against Pittsburgh, but it stops this weekend against New England.
Baltimore 24, Houston 17
Houston has the best WR and RB in the game, but I don’t have a lot of faith in T.J. Yates.
New Orleans 27, San Francisco 13
New Orleans can score and San Francisco can’t.
Green Bay 34, New York 30
There’s a real chance NY could win this game, but I’d be a fool not to take Green Bay.
Jeff Joniak | CBS Chicago – WBBM
New England 34, Denver 17
Only a month removed from an 18-point win in Denver, the Patriots will end a four-year playoff win drought. Broncos QB Tim Tebow was hit on nearly every read-option plus sacked four times in that game. Denver’s defense needs to make a lot of adjustments to stop Tom Brady from piling up the points and I don’t think they can. Bill Belichick will not allow the back-end of his Patriots defense to be exposed on those deep balls Tebow connects on more than his sub-50% completion percentage indicates.
Baltimore 20, Houston 14
Few teams can run on the Ravens, and while the Texans are equipped to do it with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, I don’t think they can pull it off. With Matt Schaub at quarterback in week six, the Texans only scored 14 points on the Ravens. Houston rookie QB T.J Yates completed only ten passes against the Bengals, and will be blitzed at will by the Ravens. Houston’s linebackers don’t match-up well with Ray Rice and the Baltimore tight ends in the passing game.
New Orleans 35, San Francisco 17
To upset the Saints, the 49ers have to take the ball away and dominate the clock. Detroit dropped several throws from Drew Brees, and the missed opportunities killed them. Sean Payton gets great matchups from Darren Sproles and tight end Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas is tough to put down in the run game, and they have speed on the edge. Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers stop the run, but I don’t think they can defend every blade of grass.
Green Bay 34, NY Giants 30
Expect a united resolve by the mentally tough Packers to get past their mid-week tragedy and win what should be the tightest game of the weekend. Green Bay’s protection of Aaron Rodgers may decide the outcome. Justin Tuck missed the week 13 matchup won by the Packers 38-35, but his inside rush over the guard will be tough to manage with Osi and Pierre-Paul on the edges. No team in history gave up more yards than the Packers, but it’s just yards. They take the ball away, and that will result in a win.
Scott Zolak | CBS Boston – WBZ
New England 34, Denver 13
In the game of the week, Tim Tebow (not Denver) heads to New England to take on the Patriots. The big additions of Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung to the New England defense, something they didn’t have back in Week 15, will be big. Granted they beat the Broncos by 18, and it was really this defense that figured out how to stop that option. You hit the QB first, not that pitch man. What’s going to be interesting is seeing what that next layer on D is. And let’s not forget Josh McDaniels is back in New England. Not that Denver is still running the same offense, so that doesn’t matter, but he drafted Tebow and Demaryius Thomas and can help the Pats game plan with his familiarity with the two.
Baltimore 23, Houston 13
Everybody is picking Baltimore to beat Houston. I do think it will be a little bit closer than what people are giving it credit for, but I think Baltimore’s defense is still solid. They’re a little banged up but playing at home and going against a rookie quarterback. I like Arian Foster in this game, but if Houston has trouble running the ball they’ll have trouble scoring. There is just too much speed on that defense and too much skill on the Ravens offense. Baltimore rolls in this game, 23-13.
New Orleans 31, San Francisco 17
It’s hard to pick against the Saints right now, as they’re the hottest team in football. Granted, this game will be played on a bit of a funky surface meaning part dirt infield and part grass. I don’t like San Fran’s field. But I don’t care; I’m going with the Saints. To credit San Francisco, Jim Harbaugh will have that team fired up. They play good defense, but it’s hard to think Alex Smith will match Drew Brees score for score. I’m taking the Saints, not that it’s an upset, 31-17.
New York Giants 31, Green Bay 24
In the upset of the year, the G-Men go into Lambeau and pull out the win. I think the high is expected to be 18-degrees in Green Bay on Sunday. The Giants just have something going on right now; I love the run tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. And you have to give Eli Manning a ton of credit; he’s had the year of all years with big comebacks in the fourth quarter. He’s been putting the team on his back. The Packers have some questions up front and if Greg Jennings gets knocked out of the game, it’s over. He is what makes that offense go for Aaron Rodgers. Giants in a HUGE upset over the Pack 31-24.
Eric Nelson | CBS Minnesota – WCCO
New England Patriots 31, Denver Broncos 17
The Tim Tebow express gets derailed in Foxboro as the Patriots win their first playoff game since 2007. New England OC Josh McDaniels should have a pretty good book on Tebow since he drafted him in 2010 for the Broncos. This is a Super Bowl XVIII coaching rematch between John Fox (then with Carolina) and Bill Belichick (NE).
Baltimore 27, Houston 17
The Texans logged their first-ever playoff win last week, now they go for another “W” in Maryland. If the Ravens can bottle up Arian Foster and Ben Tate, they should win this game. This is a chance for Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco to prove he’s got playoff mettle. It should be a day of purple reign in Baltimore.
San Francisco 30, New Orleans 27
In the pass-happy NFL, where the skies are full of flying footballs, the 49ers are a throwback team. SF relies on running back Frank Gore (1,211 yards), the left foot of David Akers (166 points, an NFL single season record for a kicker), and a rock-solid defense (229 points allowed, lowest in the NFC). This week the 49ers face the Saints, a team that puts up cartoon-like numbers on a weekly basis. Maybe SF should order the Candlestick Park grounds crew to water and fertilize the grass all week to try and slow down NO.
Green Bay 38, New York Giants 24
This is an NFL matchup featuring two pedigree teams in Titletown. Look for GB to get revenge for its NFC Championship Game loss to the Giants in Ice Bowl II in 2008. Mike McCarthy does not get enough credit. One more Super Bowl win and McCarthy passes Mike Holmgren and ties Vince Lombardi on the GB totem pole.
Glen Macnow |CBS Philadelphia – WIP
New England 35, Denver 10
The Cinderella story ends here. The evil genius, Bill Belichick, has had two weeks to scheme against Tebow, and even used a loophole to hire former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels as an offensive assistant (read: double-agent spy) this past week. Without Brian Dawkins, there’s no way Denver’s defense holds Tom Brady under 300 yards and 4 TDs.
Baltimore 17, Houston 10
The best game of the weekend, if you enjoy nasty, hard-hitting defense as much as we do. All credit to the Texans and Arian Foster for destroying Cincy last week, but the Ravens bring a whole new level of defense — too much for T.J. Yates.
New Orleans 24, San Francisco 20
Drew Brees’ splits this season: 37
TD/8 INT on turf, 9 TD/6 INT on grass. And the Niners’ field is about as nasty a grass field as you’ll find. That said, Brees is playoff proven and Alex Smith isn’t a guy I’d ever wager on. The 49ers defense keeps it close and David Akers drives home two FGs, but it’s the Saints who get the honor of going to Lambeau next week.
Green Bay 31, N.Y. Giants 20
All Giants fans are fondly harkening back to 2007. That’s when the squad barely snuck into the post-season, won three games on the road (including at Green Bay), and then shocked the 16-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl. With Eli playing well and the D Line stout, can they do it again? Uhh, no. Aaron Rodgers is just too perfect right now. Two TD catches for Jordy Nelson, one each for Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.