Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NFL playoff capsules

Saints (14-3) at 49ers (13-3)

Time: 4:30 p.m. TV/radio: Ch. 13; 1010-AM

Coaches: Saints — Sean Payton (61-34); 49ers — Jim Harbaugh (13-3)

The Saints win if …

They can run the ball against the 49ers' tough front seven. That would keep the secondary honest and allow the Saints and QB Drew Brees to mix up their play-calling.

The 49ers win if …

They squash the run and Frank Gore eats up both yards and the clock on the ground, keeping Brees sidelined.

Matchup to watch

LB Aldon Smith, far left, the seventh overall pick, took the NFL by storm during his rookie season by recording 14 sacks (tied for fifth in the league). However, the Saints, led by LT Jermon Bushrod, allowed just 24 sacks, second fewest in the league.

Our take

The 49ers are very much the real deal. But the fear is if the Saints and their offensive machine get rolling even a little, can the 49ers close the gap on the scoreboard? We don't believe the Saints will run away with it, but they will make their share of plays.

Prediction | Saints 24, 49ers 21

Broncos (9-8) at Patriots (13-3)

Time: 8 p.m. TV/radio: Ch. 10; 1010-AM

Coaches: Broncos — John Fox (9-8, 82-79 overall); Patriots — Bill Belichick (139-53, 175-97 overall)

The Patriots win if …

They can put Broncos QB Tim Tebow in third-and-long situations. He has matured as a passer, but enough to top Tom Brady, left, on the road?

The Broncos win if …

They can run the ball against a porous New England defense, thereby keeping Brady and his weapons sidelined. A big factor is Tebow's option runs.

Matchup to watch

Former Gators TE Aaron Hernan­dez, far left, had his way in New England's first meeting vs. Denver's linebackers, catching nine passes for 129 yards. If fellow TE Rob Gronkowski joins in, watch out.

Our take

The Broncos' strengths are their defense and their running game, and both will be overmatched here. The defense isn't good enough to stop the Patriots offense, and the running game might not provide enough firepower to keep pace.

Prediction | Patriots 30, Broncos 17

Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer

Stat pack

passing yards

rushing yards

passing yards allowed

rushing yards allowed











offensive rankings: Saints — 1st; 49ers — 26th

defensive rankings: Saints — 24th; 49ers — 4th

points scored: Saints — 34.2 (1st); 49ers — 23.8 (11th)

points allowed: Saints — 21.2 (13th); 49ers — 14.3 (2nd)

Stat pack

passing yards

rushing yards

passing yards allowed

rushing yards allowed











offensive rankings: Broncos — 23rd; Patriots — 2nd

defensive rankings: Broncos — 20th; Patriots — 31st

points scored: Broncos — 19.3 (25th); Patriots — 32.1 (3rd)

points allowed: Broncos — 24.4 (24th); Patriots — 21.4 (15th)

NFL playoff capsules 01/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 13, 2012 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Red state: Yes, Bill O'Reilly is a Bucs fan


    TAMPA -- The question was simple enough for Bucs fans: Why is former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly wearing a red Bucs polo?

    O'Reilly was wearing the polo during a few video clips from his "No Spin News" podcast posted on his website Monday, which was exciting news for some Bucs fans and not-so-exciting …

    Former Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly was sporting a red Bucs polo during his "No Spin News" video podcast Monday. An assistant said the shirt was given to him by former Bucs tight end Dave Moore.
  2. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP


    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  3. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst


    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.
  4. Rank the top 10 Bucs players? Here's what fans said


    We mentioned this morning that is was a fun challenge, in response to Sports Illustrated's ranking of the NFL's top 400 players, to ask fans to rank their top 10 Bucs players.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston during last year's Bucs win against the Seahawks. Evans and Winston finished 1-2 in an informal Twitter poll of fans ranking their top Bucs players.
  5. Brain study examined 111 former NFL players. Only one didn't have CTE.


    Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99 percent of the brains donated by families of former NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease, according to a new study published Tuesday.

    This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to a report released on Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on the brains of 202 former football players has confirmed what many feared in life -- evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a devastating disease in nearly all the samples, from athletes in the NFL, college and even high school. [Dr. Ann McKee | BU via AP]