NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Predictions

I am really looking forward to the NFL Conference Championship games this weekend. Both games have the potential to be classic battles. I also think any combination of the remaining teams will produce a very interesting and competitive Super Bowl.

New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots are -7 favorites.

Location: Foxboro, MA

After watching the Patriots destroy the Denver Broncos last week and then watching the Ravens struggle against the Houston Texans, with their rookie QB , it would be easy to predict a fairly easy Patriot victory. I do think the Patriots will emerge victorious, but I don’t expect this game to be easy for NE. Baltimore’s defense is not as dominant as it was a few years ago, but it is still one of the most formidable defenses in league and they should be more disruptive to the NE offense than Denver’s D was. However, I just don’t think Baltimore can neutralize all the offensive weapons that NE has, especially TE’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. But again, I don’t see a rout here. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is viewed by many as the weak link of the Baltimore offense , but he should not be underestimated imo. Flacco has a pretty impressive resume for a QB at this stage of his career, with multiple playoff victories under his belt. Flacco’s stat’s were unexceptional this season and his QB rating for the regular season was only 80.9. However, if the Ravens offensive line can protect him the Patriots may have some big problems with RB Ray Rice, who is a run/catch threat and . Baltimore’s capable group of receivers. Both teams have exceptional head coaches.

Patriots 31 – Ravens 23

San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants. The 49ers are -2.5 favorites.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Gosh, this is a tough game to call. I’ve been going back and forth on it all week. Rain is predicted in SF during the game so the field conditions may not be ideal and that probably works in the favor of the 49ers because it might slow down the Giant receivers, but that works both ways. The 49ers probably have the best defense of 4 remaining teams and their offense is not bad. QB Alex Smith has improved markedly this year. He is not an elite QB, but he has proven to be effective this year, under the guidance of Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. SF RB Frank Gore and TE Vernon Davis are two other players that can do a lot of damage. The Giants must control those two. As I noted in my NFL post last week, I am a Giant fan from way back so I am a little biased when it comes to the Giants, but I do think they are a slightly better team than the 49ers right now. These two teams met during the regular season a few months ago in SF and the 49ers won, 27-20, but the Giants actually won the time of possession battle by about 10 minutes and came close to winning despite not playing with a few key players. One big difference this time around is that the Giants will have starting RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who did not play in earlier game. The Giants are 8-1 this season in games in which they rush for 100 or more yards. Still, I expect time of possession to once again be controlled by the Giants and I expect them to win, which will set up a classic Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots.

Giants 27 – San Francisco 23.

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