The country is deep in the throes of its annual bout with playoff football fever. We're just a few scant hours from kickoff of the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs. Soon the San Francisco 49ers will know who they will be facing in the divisional round of the playoffs. The experts, pundits and talking heads have all weighed in on their picks for this week, many such columnists being kind enough as to provide their full postseason picks. If they're to be believed, next week's opponent for the Niners is painfully inevitable.
The ESPN experts and resident football-game-outcome-selecting-robots have released their picks for the opening round of playoffs. All of the pundits, with the exception of the human Nicolas Cage movie, "Wickersham," select the New Orleans Saints to bulldoze the Detroit Lions and earn the right to travel to San Francisco the following week for the NFC Divisional Round.
The Sports Illustrated team provides their full picks for the entire postseason. Sadly, there is no Wicker Man at SI pulling for those plucky cats from the Midwest. To a man, the columnists all select the Saints to mop the floor with the Lions.
And that's where the good news for the 49ers appears to run out as far as expert picks goes. All of the writers, save one, predict the Saints will roundly demolish the Niners and advance to the Conference Championship, where everyone but Tom Mantzouranis believes they will face off against the Green Bay Packers. The saintly Kerry J. Byrne gives the Niners the benefit of the doubt and has San Francisco knocking off the Saints en route to losing against the Packers, but that is the lone voice of dissent.
It appears very few of the experts give the 49ers much of a chance to make it to the Super Bowl, but the 49ers seem to be pretty good at surprising people this year. Let's hope they can keep it up for a few more weeks.
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