The Saints boast the best offense in football. The passing game is well-documented, but the running game has been the unsung hero throughout the season. Sean Peyton’s playcalling and Drew Brees with his decision making with make many defenses lose sleep at night. There are too many weapons to account for, starting with the Pro Bowlers along the offensive line. As for the Saints defense, Gregg Williams is one of the better defensive coordinators in the league with his blitzing. New Orleans was 12th against the run during the season, and although Detroit has one of the worst ground games, they were held to 32 yards last week. They also forced 2 interceptions on Matthew Stafford.
The 49ers had a bye last week, which means they had extra time to prepare for the league’s best offense and study the film. They just so happen to have the league’s best defense and the 8th ranked rushing attack. Home-field proved its advantage last week with all road teams losing, not to mention that San Francisco is 7-1 at home this season. They have Pro Bowlers throughout their defense and special teams, as well as a recipe for success in terms of their strengths. Jim Harbaugh has this team minimizing turnovers offensively, and maximizing them on the other side of the ball (best turnover ratio). They look to lean on Frank Gore and David Akers, but will need Alex Smith to continue the success he is having.
You win and lose the game in the trenches and, you have a better chance at winning when you’re quarterback is comfortable and has time in the pocket. New Orleans will have to keep the 49ers defense off-balanced and use x-factor Darren Sproles early and often to keep the chains moving on the road. My hat is off to the 49ers and their cinderella season, but I think New Orleans can stack the box against the run. San Francisco’s defense will keep this game close for awhile, but you can only contain the high-octane Saints offense for so long. I like the Saints to put pressure on Alex Smith and that inexperienced offensive line, eventually forcing them to throw and play from behind. I like the Saints in this one.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, San Francisco 19