Saturday Playoff Preview: Saints at 49ers, Broncos at Patriots

The early NFC game is the interesting one for fans of the Green Bay Packers, but the late game is likely to set some TV ratings records because of the Broncos QB.

Saints at 49ers. The weather is expected to be in the 50s with little wind, which is a huge favor for the Saints. Still, the 49ers offense is going to have to do something other than avoid turnovers and hand it off to Frank Gore, so the fine weather will help Alex Smith find an open receiver or two against the Saints bad pass defense.

The 49ers have had a great season, but the Saints are the better team. They should win the game. But if the 49ers do win, it will be because they learned some lessons from two of the Saints surprising road losses. Drew Brees had two of his worst games on the road against the Buccaneers (1 TD, 3 INTs) and the Rams (1 TD, 2 INTs). The 49ers tied for second in the NFL this season with 23 INTs. They've got to look closely at what made Brees struggle and duplicate it if they're going to win the game.

More on this game at Canal Street Chronicles and Niners Nation.

Broncos at Patriots. I really can't believe how the Steelers played Tim Tebow last week. They were determined to stop the run, and it left their defense vulnerable to big plays down the field. Tebow can't throw the ball well (47.6 completion percentage on the season) but he can connect on deep passes. The Patriots need to win the field position battle, and play their safeties deep to avoid the big play. Tebow isn't going to sustain a lot of 10+ play scoring drives against any defense. Make him work for every first down.

I don't know why the Patriots have listed 13 players as questionable. They should only be questionable if they're a game time decision, and that wouldn't seem to apply to all these of players. However, some of them, like starting G Logan Mankins, are legitimate ones. The Patriots offense is so good that even without all of these questionable players, they should put up points against a mediocre Broncos defense. I'm expecting a comfortable win for the Patriots.

More on this game at Mile High Report and Pats Pulpit.

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