NFL Playoffs: New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers Preview and Prediction

Defense versus Offense is the quintessential argument in sports. Saturday, another chapter will be written on this polarizing subject as the second-ranked 49ers defense will be faced with the task of shutting down the high-powered offense that may seem to be on the heels of another dominant victory.

Despite Tebow 3:16, this is, without question, the most interesting playoff game for me this weekend. So let’s set the stage…

49ers-saintsImage credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez via SFGate

New Orleans Saints

With a regular season record of 13-3, the Saints are one of the strongest three seeds in recent memory with a quarterback in the midst of possibly the greatest season in the history of the position.

Drew Brees, as you likely know, set the NFL record for passing yards this past season. Was that enough for him? Obviously not. Against the Detroit Lions he threw for 466 yards, the most ever in a regulation playoff game.

They have now won nine straight games; of those nine they have scored no less than 22 points, and last weekend’s 28 points allowed were the most they have given up over that span. However, their total defense on the season ranked 24th. New Orleans is, without question, an offensively-minded team.

The Saints are 0-4 all-time in road playoff games and with a loss will match the Cincinnati Bengals for the worst road playoff record in NFL history.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are back in the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Back in August, I can assure you no one expected the 49ers to have the phenomenal season they have had.

There have been several reasons for that success. Frank Gore rushed for over 1,000 yards again, David Akers set the NFL record for most field goals kicked (44), and Alex Smith has had a renaissance at the quarterback position.

Now I won’t blow sunshine up your arse and say Smith is an elite quarterback. In fact, he, T.J. Yates, and “The Mile High Messiah” round out the bottom of QBs remaining in the playoffs; but Smith is at least competent.

Despite all these success factors, San Francisco ranked just 26th in total yards this season. Yet the 49ers somehow went 13-3, and that is due to one major thing: their defense.

Patrick Willis has looked like the second coming of Ray Lewis this year; Aldon Smith, as a rookie, recorded an amazing 14 sacks; and the entire defense has thrived. The 49ers are especially dangerous at home where they have allowed, on average, less than 11 points a game.

The 49ers are 18-8 in home playoff games in franchise history. With a win they will match the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders for the second-most home playoff victories.

Saints-49ers Prediction

I don’t know if I could say anything as convincing as Jerod Morris posted about this game earlier in the week (which you can read here ). Luckily, I agree with him completely.

The 49ers defense is one of the best in the world and of a class the Saints have not come across this season. The Saints will have more success than most teams against San Francisco, but it won’t be enough.

A healthy Frank Gore and a stingy defense will be the difference maker as the 49ers play their way to the NFC Championship.

Pick: San Francisco 27 | New Orleans 20

**********

New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers Game Info

  • Saints-49ers Date, Time, and TV: Saturday, January 14th at 4:30 ET on FOX
  • Saints-49ers Announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa
  • Saints-49ers Point Spread: Saints -3.5
  • Saints-49ers Over-Under: 47.5


About Pat Suley

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