The first round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs ended in exciting fashion, and anyone who had Tim Tebow on their fantasy football roster knows that to then highest degree.
Few saw that performance (or win) coming, but it happened, which begs us to take a look at the divisional round matchups and see if something like that can happen again. Here’s a quick preview of all four games, along with some fantasy insight for all the matchups:
Denver Broncos (9-8) @ New England Patriots (13-3)
Even though the Denver defense is playing well and could somehow stall the Pats, I don’t think they can completely shut them down. Even the Steelers got going eventually last week. That means Tom Brady and his top weapons are full go’s in this matchup, although I’m weary of using Wes Welker with Champ Bailey on him. Bailey did limited Mike Wallace last week considerably. As for the ground game, stay away from the Patriots’ backs, even with the good matchup. It’s a full-blown RBBC over there.
For Denver, I don’t see at all why Tim Tebow can’t thrive in this matchup. He played very well against the Patriots in the first meeting, and looked unbelievable against Pittsburgh. Some magic is happening, and while it may not necessarily mean the Broncos win, I think Tebow will at least have another fine performance. That probably means another solid outing for breakout receiver Demaryius Thomas, while it also wouldn’t hurt to use Eddie Royal as a sleeper WR3 against the Pats’ horrible pass defense. Willis McGahee is a must-start with this matchup, as well.
I like both teams, but I got a dose of crazy in me. I actually picked Denver to win last week, and feel they have something special going on. New England is 0-3 in their last three playoff games, and I think there’s a realistic chance that continues.
Pick: Broncos 30, Patriots 24
Houston Texans (11-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
You have to consider leaving all Texans to the side in this one, as Houston won’t have the backing of their home crowd as they take on a brutal and determined Ravens defense. Arian Foster and Andre Johnson are still options worth considering, but I suggest you look elsewhere. Don’t even think about using T.J. Yates, who could be badly exposed in this matchup.
On the flip-side, I’m not in love with Ray Rice battling the Texans’ run defense, either, but I might take him over Foster just because Flacco scares me more than Yates. Anquan Boldin is back and can be a decent WR2, as well.
The Ravens DEF/ST could be the top scorer of all defensive units in this round of the playoffs if everything goes according to plan.
Pick: Ravens 23, Texans 16
New York Giants (10-7) @ Green Bay Packers (15-1)
This is going to be a battle. If you didn’t think so, look back to their week 13 meeting, where Green Bay held on late for a 38-35 narrow win. That means Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning are safe plays. I know the Giants dominated the Falcons last week, but they won’t be that dominate at Lambeau. Rodgers will get his. That probably means you can rely on Jordy Nelson, too, but I think Greg Jennings could struggle in his first game back from injury with Cory Webster draping him.
Don’t trust any of Green Bay’s running backs, and tread lightly with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Green Bay can be run on, but sometimes they randomly come up big, and they’re at home, where they’re a completely different defense.
Still, the Packers’ pass defense gives up a ton of plays, so roll with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and don’t look back.
Pick: Packers 34, Giants 30
New Orleans Saints (14-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
I’m not using Alex Smith in this one, regardless of the fact that the Saints will make the 49ers pass. I might be persuaded to use Michael Crabtree or Vernon Davis for the right price, however. The Saints can be run on, so Frank Gore is a solid play at home, while you can bet Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, and Jimmy Graham are going to get theirs against a 49ers pass defense that gives up yardage.
Drew Brees may not throw for 466 yards like he did last week, but he’s on such an insane roll right now (7 straight games with 300+ yards), there’s no way I’m betting against him or the Saints.
Pick: Saints 37, 49ers 27
Good luck in your fantasy football playoff games this week!