The NFL playoffs continue with an NFC Divisional game featuring the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. The red-hot Saints come into this game playing about as well as any team in the NFL and will have to go up against a surprising 49ers team that has used defense to make it to the playoffs.

The latest NFL playoff odds opened with the Saints listed as three point road favorites for this game. After a brutal beating of the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild card game, the Saints took some early betting action and moved this line up to 3.5 points at some offshore sportsbooks. A look at the early public consensus report shows that 64 percent of the betting public is on the Saints.

Drew Brees carved up the Lions in the first-round of the playoffs with 466 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints were down by four points at the half and they mounted a nice come back to win and move on to the next round in the playoffs. However it should be pointed out that the Saints defense allowed over 400 yards of offense, and this may have been a different game if a fumble was called correctly in this game.

The Saints are a different team on the road and lost some inexcusable games against weak opponents on the NFL highway. The Saints lost to the Tampa Bay buccaneers and the St. Louis Rams, the 49ers should provide a harder challenge than either of those teams.

The 49ers have an incredible defense that will be difficult to solve for the Saints. The 49ers rank fourth overall in total offense in the NFL. They are tied for seventh in the NFL in the sack category and they will put pressure on Brees. As tough ball-hawking secondary, the 49ers ranked second in the NFL in interceptions. In short this pass defense will be unlike any team the Saints have faced.

On special teams, the 49ers take into the playoffs kicker David Akers, who set an NFL record for most field goals in a season, and punter Andy Lee, who only led the league in average yards per punt (50.9), and net yards per punt (44.6).

The 49ers paid off bettors in a big way this year as they were 12-3 against the number.  At home they were even better as they finished a perfect 7-0 against the spread in front of the home fans.

On offense, rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh has made Alex Smith the quarterback that he was expected to be when he was drafted. Smith is put in positions to succeed and he has produced with 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The 49er running game is powered by Frank Gore and he should be able to get going against the Saints defense and that could lead to a long game for the Saints defense.

The 49ers have the defense to win this game and the offense that can keep the ball away from the high powered offense of the Saints. The 49ers are not getting enough credit and they are a very good team, and that makes them a dangerous home dog in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

NFL Playoff Picks: SF 49ers +3.5

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