Sunday, January 22, 2012


Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
ANALYSIS: Both teams did their part at home last week to set up this game for the right to go to the Super Bowl. New England completely crushed the Broncos 45-10, as Tom Brady showed he had a hot hand with 363 passing yards and six touchdowns—five in the first half. Baltimore had to scrap its way through a hard fought 20-13 victory against an up-and-coming Texans squad. Joe Flacco did not turn over the ball once and the Ravens forced four turnovers.

OFFENSE: There is no denying who is the better quarterback in this matchup between Tom Brady and Joe Flacco. Brady had another great season after throwing for 5235 yards and 39 touchdowns certainly has the playoff experience with an NFL record 15 wins in the postseason. Brady has great offensive weapons in Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski leading his receiving corps. Gronkowski was money last week, catching 10 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns, while Wes Welker caught a league leading 122 passes this season.

Joe Flacco has proven to win his share of games in the postseason too. The former Delaware Blue Hen has won a playoff game in each of his four seasons in the league and proven to win a game on the road when it counts. Last week, he threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens must help him out with the running game and Ray Rice. Houston held Baltimore to 87 rushing yards and Rice only ran for 60 of those on 21 carries. Worth noting, the Ravens are 3-4 when they run for under 100 yards and 10-0 when they reach that benchmark.

Coming off of one of its best performances this season, the Patriots’ defense is out to repeat its showing from last week. New England held Denver to 252 total yards and sacked Tim Tebow five times throughout the game. Despite having the second-worst total defense in the NFL, the Patriots forced 34 turnovers—good for third in the league. Cornerback Kyle Arrington was one of those active in causing turnovers, intercepting a league-high seven passes.

If there is one defense you can always trust then it is the Baltimore Ravens’ great one. Last week, they forced four turnovers against the Houston Texans en route to a 20-13 victory. Baltimore ranked No. 3 in defense this year and they still are led by Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Suggs had 14 sacks this season, Reed is still one of the better ball-hawking safeties in the NFL and Lewis is still a great tackler and motivator. Watch out for Ladarius Webb who picked off five passes and recovered two fumbles this season.

PREDICTION: Ravens 24, Patriots 21
Joe Flacco vs. the New England defense

New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers
ANALYSIS: So who had these teams in the NFC Championship Game? The New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers used defense to defeat the offensive minded favorites Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. The 49ers stunned the Saints early and forced five turnovers throughout the game. However, it was an Alex Smith pass to Vernon Davis that sealed the deal and placed it in the lore of other great catches in 49ers history. The Giants also controlled the game early and forced the Packers to cough up the ball four times. Hakeem Nicks shone brightly in this game with 165 yards on seven catches, but it was his Hail Mary grab before halftime that changed the outlook of this game.

PREDICTION: 49ers 27, Giants 20
KEY MATCHUP: 49ers running game vs. Giants run defense

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