NFL Conference Championship Picks

Posted: January 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

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On one side, we have a rematch of last year’s AFC title game. On the other side, we have two young QB’s looking to reach their first Super Bowl. The intrigue is certainly there, as the brothers Harbaugh look to reach heights not yet realized, setting up the Super Bowl to be a family affair in New Orleans.

The 49ers are road favorites in this one. Since 2005, there have only been two road favorites in Conference Championship games: The 2008 Philadelphia Eagles, who were defeated in Arizona by the Cardinals, 35-28, despite going into the game favored by 3.5 points; and the 2010 Green Bay Packers, who were also 3.5 point favorites, but were able to defeat a Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears team in Soldier Field.

San Francisco 49ers (12-4-1) AT Atlanta Falcons (14-3)

The Scene: Sunday, January 20th, 3:00 PM on Fox
The Spread: San Francisco by 4
The Pick: Atlanta
The Score: Atlanta, 27-24
The Rationale: The 49ers defense didn’t look impenetrable last weekend. Granted,  they were facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. But, the Falcons appeared to resurrect their running game a bit last week, and Jacquizz Rodgers’ success will be a key element of this game. I know everyone is high on Colin Kaepernick and he is undoubtedly going to be a great player. But, when it comes to experience and weapons around him, Matt Ryan has him beat. The former BC standout showed that he is unfazed under pressure by conjuring up the cajones to drive the Falcons down the field after their defense blew a huge lead against Seattle.

The fact of the matter is, San Francisco is a road-favorite in a playoff game. I am always skeptical of that. Home underdogs in big games are typically more motivated to prove that they are being disrespected. If you also add in the element that the Georgia Dome will be rocking, and a rookie QB who relies heavily on line-calls and zone-runs is taking the field, you further come to the conclusion that the cards are aligning in Atlanta’s favor. The Falcons, burnt by the Michael Vick fiasco, will return to their first Super Bowl since January, 1999.

Baltimore Ravens (12-6) AT New England Patriots (13-4)

The Scene: Sunday, January 20th, 6:30 PM on CBS
The Spread: New England by 9
The Pick: New England
The Score: New England, 34-21
The Rationale: There is always one team in Conference Championships that covers and one team that does not. This will be a bit of a surprise to some. But, there is a reason this line is so high. The Patriots’ offense has not been stopped all season. For Bill Belichick, it is not about wins and losses anymore in the regular season. It is about how quickly and monumentally you can crush the will of your opponent as you prepare for the postseason. The Patriots have been the class of the league for over a decade.

Baltimore, meanwhile, has been the maid-of-honor ever since they triumphed over New York in Super Bowl XXXV. Since John Harbaugh was named head coach prior to 2008, the Ravens have been to three conference titles. Will the third time be a charm? I doubt it. Baltimore has all the looks of a team that peaked when Jacoby Jones scored the game-tying touchdown late in the second half against Denver. The defense can only hold up for so long, and against an offense as dynamic as New England’s, and in a place as polarizing for road teams as Foxborough, the end is near for Ray Lewis.

New England will win, and it won’t be very close. This sets the stage for a Super Bowl of offensive powerhouses. The Atlanta Falcons vs. the New England Patriots, Matty-Ice vs. Tom Terrific, the BC Eagle vs. the Michigan Wolverine. Any way you shape it, it should be quite a show.

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