NFL Championship Round: Previews and Predictions
Picks for TFT Crew:
Nat: 49ers and Ravens
Ron: 49ers and Patriots
Kyle: 49ers and Ravens
Marshal: 49ers and Patriots
Marshal: 49ers and Patriots
+San Francisco 49ers vs. +Atlanta Falcons- 3:00pm ET Sunday, January 20
In a match-up of the #1 and #2 seed of the NFC, these heavyweights will slug it out and find out who is going to the Super Bowl, and who is beginning their offseason. In the 49ers case, this is the game that they went out last year in a few fluke plays. For Atlanta, this is the first championship game for most of the players on the team.
Atlanta is the home team, and I think that may be their only advantage in this game. The Falcons are short on experienced players in playoff situations, and they are also coming off a less than impressive performance against the +Seattle Seahawks last weekend. In a game that Atlanta dominated in the first half, their second half nearly undid the early lead. They won on a last second field goal that put them up 30-28. Seattle basically gave the game away, and that is why I have little confidence in Atlanta.
San Francisco is coming off a game they would be hard pressed to match. Kaepernick was nothing short of Maddenesque in his first playoff performance. I don't think he'll be able to match the performance against a better Atlanta defense, but he and Frank Gore should be able to do enough to get them to the Super Bowl.
The Niners need to have a better showing on defense, else this game could get out of hand. The Falcons have as potent a passing game as any in the league. They sport Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez who are all very difficult to cover up. Luckily for San Francisco, they have a very athletic linebacking core that can help in coverage and get to the quarterback to take some pressure off of the secondary.
I look for Frank Gore to have a heyday against this Falcons defense. He should take pressure off of Kaepernick and allow him to do what he does best behind center. Atlanta will keep this game close, but in the end, run out of firepower.
Prediction: San Francisco 35- Atlanta 31
Player of the Game: Frank Gore
+Baltimore Ravens vs. +New England Patriots- 6:00pm ET
New England is also coming off of an impressive win, in which they dismantled the Houston defense. The final score looked a lot closer than the game actually was, and it still didn't look good for Houston. Houston did have the talent to compete in that game, and did early on. But the offense stalled on far too many drives to keep the defense off the field and fresh against a very high powered offense. This could be the case in this game as well for Baltimore. Tom Brady will have a challenge against this stout Ravens defense, and it will be another case of great Offense vs. a great Defense. Lately these matchups have favored the offenses, but I expect things to change.
Fortunately for Baltimore, Joe Flacco has never looked as good as he did last game. Granted it was against a weak defense in Denver, but New England's defense is very suspect as well. I still do not buy into the Patriots defense being "that much better" than the squad they sent out last year. They have just been lucky enough to play while ahead and only have to defend against the pass for the most part. This Ravens defense will play inspired to try to get Ray Lewis one more ring in his last hurrah, and keep Tom Brady and the multiple offensive threats off of the field. Can this Ravens offense do the job though? I think they can, Ray Rice is as dynamic a player as the league has, and he can do many things for the offense. If he can keep the pressure off of Flacco enough for him to hit Jacoby Jones, Torrey Smith, and company this game could very easily go in Baltimore's favor. Inclement weather should not be seen, and I believe the Ravens get the upper hand in this game.