NFL Weekend Recap: Giants, Packers, Saints, 49ers, Broncos and More

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The biggest drive for the Giants on Sunday was their first one that led to a Lawrence Tynes 31 yard field goal and gave New York a 3-0 lead. Why is a drive that happened at the very beginning of the game and didn’t even result in a touchdown so important? Because it stabilized the game for the Giants on the road against a high powered offense that is capable of getting out to a quick 14-0 or 21-0 advantage.

The Giants ran 13 plays on that first drive, they converted two 3rd and longs and were able to milk nearly seven minutes off the clock. This enabled them to neutralize the crowd and keep what must have been an amped up Aaron Rodgers, who hadn’t taken a snap in a game in three weeks, on the sidelines where his adrenaline was useless.

I think we can safely say that the Giants made the right choice trading up for Eli Manning in the 2004 draft. Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger are both excellent quarterbacks but you can’t tell me they are capable of winning the type of playoff road games Manning has won in his NFL career.

Did Sean Payton and Gregg Williams game plan at all for the 49ers offense? If they did I’m pretty sure they would have realized the obvious; Vernon Davis is the only weapon that can hurt you in the San Francisco passing game. Unfortunately for the Saints Davis was single covered too often on Saturday allowing him to have arguably the best game by a tight end in playoff history (though Kellen Winslow’s 13 catch, 166 yard performance in the classic 1982 Wild Card game against the Dolphins deserves consideration as well). New Orleans should have double and even triple teamed Davis on every play forcing the likes of Kyle Williams and Michael Crabtree to make plays in single coverage. Something tells me, under that scenario, neither one would have come close to Davis’ historic day.

The best part about the Broncos drubbing at the hands of the Patriots on Saturday night is the fact that we no longer have to hear about Denver’s unstoppable offense led by the great Tim Tebow. If I had to hear Trent Dilfer tell me one more time about why the run, run pass option in the Broncos shotgun set is so effective I was going to drive up to Bristol, CT and duck tape his mouth shut. Trent, just because this set worked a few times against a banged up, underprepared Steelers defense in the Wild Card game doesn’t make it the second coming of the 49ers West Coast offense that dominated the 80’s. If it was so good they would have scored more than 14 points against the Bills in Week 16 and more than three points against the Chiefs in Week 17. Also the last time I checked a competent college team could put up more than the 10 points Denver mustered against the Patriots terrible defense this weekend.

Texans fans take solace in the fact that you probably would have won Sunday if Matt Schaub were your quarterback instead of T.J. Yates. The future is definitely bright for Houston.

My picks for Championship Weekend – (4-0 last week, 7-1 in the playoffs)

New England Patriots -7.5 – I didn’t like what I saw from the Ravens on Sunday. They kept the Texans in the game for far too long mainly because their offense was anemic after a 17 point first quarter. I expect a similar offensive performance next week, which will hand the Ravens another close but no Super Bowl cigar season.

Patriots 31 – Ravens 20

New York Giants +2.5 – With how well the Giants have played over their last three and a half games (starting at halftime of the Jets game in Week 16) it is hard for me to imagine that the 49ers are going to prevent them from going to the Super Bowl. The game will be close but the Giants know how to get it done on the road in the playoffs better than any team in recent NFL history.

Giants 24 – 49ers 13

EDITORS NOTE: In the Broncos’ season-ending press conference on Monday, both John Elway and John Fox made it very clear that Tim Tebow will be the Broncos starting QB going into training camp next season.