New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers Predictions 1/14/12

Last Updated: January 10th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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No one believed that the San Francisco 49ers were really good enough to win the NFC this entire season, but on Saturday, they have a chance to beat the NFL betting odds against one of the best teams in the league, the New Orleans Saints with a spot in the NFC Championship Game on the line.

NFL Playoffs Matchup: New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers
Saints vs. 49ers Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA
Saints vs. 49ers Date/Time: Saturday, January 14th, 4:30 p.m.
Saints vs. 49ers Television Coverage: FOX

Click Here For The Rest Of The 2012 NFL Playoff Bracket And Other NFL Playoff Previews

Key #1: The Saints’ secondary cannot let Drew Brees go wild
It seems like the understatement of the century, but it is true. Brees has now thrown for nearly 6,000 yards in 17 games this year, and he just keeps racking up 400+ yard performance after 400+ yard performance. The 49ers did a great job this year on the ground, as they didn’t allow a rushing touchdown in the first 14 weeks of the season, but their secondary at times was suspect, allowing 230.9 yards per game and ranking No. 16 in the league. Rookie LB Aldon Smith did have a team best 14 sacks this year to help bring a lot of pressure off of the corner, and others like LB Ahmad Brooks, DE Justin Smith, and DE Ray McDonald had great years as well. When Brees has been slowed this year, it has been with great pass rushes. That’s what the Detroit Lions had going last week for a half of football, but in the end, it was Brees that got the last laugh with a clinic in the second half. Brees is probably going over 300 yards, and he is probably going to get a couple scores, but much more than that is bad, bad news for the Niners.

Saints @ 49ers Odds at Wager Web Sportsbook
New Orleans Saints -3.5
San Francisco 49ers +3.5
Over/Under 47.5
Click Here to Bet Your NFL playoffs Picks!

Key #2: San Francisco cannot get overtaken by the pressure in this game
It has been almost a decade since the 49ers have played in the playoffs, and no one like RB Frank Gore and QB Alex Smith were around at that point. We already saw the Lions fail against the Saints in their first playoff game in ages, and though the Texans won in their first ever playoff game, it came against a Cincinnati team that also had absolutely zilch in terms of playoff experience on the team. Playing at home is at least going to give a level of comfort for the 49ers, especially since they are playing against a New Orleans team which was beaten last year on the road in the first round of the playoffs. Smith and Gore are really the two cogs that have to hold up in this one, as they have to make the most of their opportunities against a sometimes suspect New Orleans defense. Even though you would like to think that San Francisco can’t afford for this game to become a shootout, consistently scoring and putting the pressure back on Brees and the gang is the right way to try to go about this game. Going conservatively isn’t going to get the job done.


Key #3: Whichever team gets a few big plays on the ground will have a major upper hand
The one thing that Head Coach Jim Harbaugh brought to the Niners this year was a level of toughness. They play fantastic rush defense because they aren’t losing those battles up front in the trenches. That being said, the Saints, who aren’t known for their ground game, do have the backs to make plays happen on the ground, while Gore could have a big day against the Saints as well. New Orleans only allowed a total of 32 yards on the ground to the Lions on Saturday night, but that came against a team that just doesn’t run the football. The 49ers are a significantly different team for sure. RBs Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Chris Ivory all have the ability to bust off some big runs as well for New Orleans. Whichever team can establish the line of scrimmage and get its ground game off to a great start is going to have a major advantage in this game.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 @ 7:55 am (EST)
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