2012 Divisional Preview: New Orleans vs San Francisco

This is the first of four posts this week examining the Divisional matchups in the NFL Playoffs. Check back during the next few days for more previews:

After a poor 1-3 showing by me last week with my predictions, I’m doing it all again for the Divisional round. First up, the Saints visit the 49ers at 4:30 ET on Saturday on Fox. This is a huge matchup between two teams that both finished the year 13-3. New Orleans and San Francisco did not face each other this year so they’ll be working off game film entirely to prepare for Saturday. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Offense: The Saints have a lethal passing game with Drew Brees, who set an NFL record this year for passing yards in a season. Not much more needs to be said for New Orleans’s passing game: it’s tremendous. But the Saints’ running game is underrated with Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomsa offering different options in the backfield. New Orleans tore up the Detroit Lions last week, putting 45 points on the board against the Lions’ tough defense.

For the 49ers, quarterback Alex Smith is still young but he has the luxury of playing in a system where he’s not the focal point. Running back Frank Gore is one of the league’s best backs and ran for over 1200 yards this year and fumbling just twice all year. Smith threw just five interceptions as well as the 49ers excelled at not giving up the ball. However, while San Francisco did not turn the ball over often, it also gained only 311 yards per game, seventh worst in the league. Continue reading “2012 Divisional Preview: New Orleans vs San Francisco”