Following our easy 2-0 Saturday last weekend, we earned a split of our two Sunday plays when the Chargers finally opened up the offense and got the ball to Keenan Allen.
With that 3-1 divisional round, our record for the season now stands at 49-26-1 (.653), and we look to continue our winning ways with these four plays:
Over 269½ passing yards for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
This number is lower than it should be because the Patriots have pounded the ball on the ground in their last three games. Brady hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards over that stretch, topping out at 198 in last week’s win over the Colts.
But he far exceeded this total in the prior six games, twice passing for over 400 yards and dropping 344 when these two teams met in Week 12.
Perhaps more than any other coaches in the league, Bill Belichick and his offensive staff design a game plan based on their opponent. The Patriots ran the ball a lot the last three weeks both because they could and because they got out to big leads.
Facing a top-10 rushing defense in a game that may go back and forth, Brady should be airing it out and confirming his place among the greatest postseason passers.
Over 6½ receptions for Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman
Down the stretch of the season, Edelman emerged as Brady’s most reliable receiver. He has been targeted at least nine times in each of the last seven games, exceeding this total five times and coming up just one catch short twice.
The streak started in that Week 12 matchup, when Edelman caught nine passes for 110 yards as the Patriots rallied for a 34-31 win in overtime.
During the regular season, the Broncos ranked 27th among the 32 teams in passing yards allowed. Their obvious defensive weakness is in the secondary, where top corner Chris Harris is now out after tearing his left ACL last week.
Brady will exploit his absence with a lot of underneath throws, and Edelman should be on the receiving end frequently.
Over 40½ receiving yards for 49ers tight end Vernon Davis
Prior to last week, when his only catch went for a 1-yard touchdown, Davis had a reception of at least 28 yards in all six of his previous playoff games.
He exceeded this total in his first five postseason contests and actually had more than 100 receiving yards in four of them. Possessing wide receiver skills in a big man’s frame, Davis is a matchup nightmare who has the speed to get deep.
The Seahawks boast the best pass defense in the league, both on a per-play and per-game basis. They have a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman, who figures to tangle with Michael Crabtree and/or Anquan Boldin on the outside.
Davis is likely to see some single coverage while working the middle of the field, and Colin Kaepernick absolutely needs to take advantage.
Under 4½ total touchdowns scored by the 49ers and Seahawks
With an over/under of 40 points, this game is expected to have less scoring than most conference championships. And if the recent history between these two NFC West rivals is any indication, trips to the end zone should once again come at a premium.
In three of their four previous meetings, there were three or fewer touchdowns scored. The one time that this total was surpassed happened in Week 16 last year, when the aforementioned Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards to open the floodgates on a 42-13 Seattle rout.
Barring more fluky scores, this game should remain close and see limited TDs.