My fellow NFL fans, we are almost there. The Super Bowl in New Orleans on February 3rd is almost here, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. On that day, the NFL will crown a new Super Bowl Champion in Super Bowl XLVII.
That being said, this Sunday, January 20, 2013, besides the date being KISS lead singer/rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley’s 61st birthday, there will be two Conference Championship games to determine the participants in the Super Bowl. One game will determine the AFC representative, and the other will determine the NFC Representative.
[adinserter block=”1″]Of course, one of those teams will be “rocking and rolling all night, and partying every day” in the Big Easy after battling each other for the proverbial 60 minutes.
The vanquished team will hit “rock bottom,” as the birthday boy, Paul Stanley would say.
Championship Sunday starts with the (2) San Fransisco 49ers coming into the Georgia Dome to face the (1) Atlanta Falcons for the NFC Conference Championship. The AFC Championship will is played next features last year’s participants, the (4) Baltimore Ravens going up to Foxborough to face the (1) New England Patriots. Both should be awesome games, no matter the winner.
Let’s examine these games a little bit, and like I have been doing, I will give my picks. I have not fared very well this post-season for some reason, but quoting Paul Stanley again, I “got to choose” a team that I think will win.
Here we go.
2012-13 NFC Championship Game
Sunday, January 20,2013, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.
(2) San Fransisco 49ers vs (1) Atlanta Falcons
Winner is the 2012-13 NFC Champion, and will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, LA.
This game should be a pretty good game. I am still undecided as to who will definitely will win this game. However, I think overall, that this game is more interesting than the later game.
The Falcons finally got the proverbial monkey off their backs with their first playoff win under the Head Coach/QB combination of Mike Smith and Matt Ryan respectively. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, arguably the best TE ever, finally won a playoff game. The Falcons, though, nearly coughed up that game against Seattle by letting the Seahawks come back, and even take the lead late.
I know that Matt Ryan has a lot of weapons, and the team has home field advantage. The defense is doing very well, even though John Abraham has been hobbled by a bum ankle. However, the fact they nearly blew the Divisional Round Game gives me pause.
The 49ers have a dynamic, young QB named Colin Kaepernick leading the charge. That young man is going to be a match up nightmare for the Falcons defense. Not only is Kaepernick a threat to run, but he is judicious with the ball, and has great chemistry with WR Michael Crabtree. Colin will also spread the ball around to other receivers such as WR Randy Moss. RB Frank Gore is also a threat.
The 49ers also have a great defense. Justin Smith, who is working through a torn triceps keeps that defense going. Smith’s leadership helps other guys such as Aldon Smith just overpower opposing offenses, much like what happened to Green Bay in the Divisional Round. If the 49ers defense play like they did against Green Bay, Matt Ryan and the Falcons are in for a long day.
My pick: The Falcons strength is their offense, and the 49ers’ strength is their defense. I am going with the old adage, “defense wins championships,” and therefore, my pick is the San Fransisco 49ers.
2012-13 AFC Championship Game
Sunday, January 20,2013, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.
(4) Baltimore Ravens vs (1) The New England Patriots
Winner is the 2012-13 AFC Champion, and will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, LA.
This game is going to be, as WWE announcer Jim “JR” Ross would call it, a “slobber-knocker.” This is going to be a rematch between last years participants, the Ravens and the Patriots.
Most NFL fans remember in that first AFC Championship Game, the Patriots won 23-20 thanks to then Patriots DB Sterling Moore stripping the ball from the hands of then Ravens WR Lee Evans. If Evans had held on to the ball, it would have surely have been a TD that would have won the game for the Ravens.
Kicker Billy Cundiff, then of the Ravens, missed a chip shot FG at the end of the game that would have tied the game up, and the Ravens went home. The Patriots went on to the Super Bowl where they unfortunately lost to the New York Giants again, thanks to another lucky catch by then Giants WR Mario Manningham (normally Manningham would have dropped that pass).
Well, the two teams meet again on Sunday. Some of the players on the Ravens ran their mouths on Twitter and in the press. Some in the Boston media, and the talking heads on ESPN pretty much conceded the game to the Ravens. There is also the specter of LB Ray Lewis retiring, and the Ravens trying to have him retire a champion ala the 6 Time Pittsburgh Steelers did with RB Jerome Bettis.
There are a lot of dynamics to this game, but the way I see it this:
In the previous week, in the Divisional Round, the Ravens did a great job against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. They shut him down during most of the 2nd half. Keep in mind though that the Ravens, on both defense and special teams, gave up 35 points to the Broncos.
Flacco, even though he did play very well, and in my last blog, I did praise him a lot. However, please keep in mind he can still be inconsistent. There have been times where those huge lobs have gone for TDs, but they have also been INTs. The team also needs to give Ray Rice the ball.
The Ravens defense is aging. Let’s face it. Yes, Ray Lewis is making tackles, but most of them will be 7 yards up the field. Suggs is doing alright, but he has been nicked up. It is possible that the Achilles injury is slowing him down a little. Ed Reed is Ed Reed, but without Webb, the secondary is a bit suspect.
The Patriots defense has really improved, especially from last year. The front line with Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, and Rob Ninkovich (who can play anywhere on the field) is awesome. They are hard to penetrate with a run game. The secondary, which has been leaky, has improved when Aqib Talib joined the team, and when the team put Devin McCourty at safety. The defense just has to be aware of Ravens WR Torrey Smith, and WR Anquan Boldin (even though Boldin can disappear in games at times).
[adinserter block=”2″]What else is there to say about the Patriots offense? ESPN has made a huge deal about Rob Gronkowski’s absence. The team suffered only one loss since his absence. It is sad he broke his arm again, albeit in a different spot, but the team has been able to adjust. When you have Brady, Belichick, and Josh McDaniels running the offense, I think the team is in good hands.
My pick: This will be a close game, I think. I think the Patriots are going to be much more balanced, as they have a running game with Vereen, and Ridley. The Ravens are definitely not going to be intimidated, and Flacco has played well against the Patriots.
However, I do not see the Patriots being afraid of the Ravens either. My pick is the New England Patriots.
So there you have it. I am picking a New England vs 49ers Super Bowl.
Next week I’ll be back with a review.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan
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