NFL | NCAA Football

AFC & NFC Championship Games Predictions & Preview: Inside The Wheelhouse

It’s the final four of the NFL with a spot in Super Bowl 47 on the line. This is what these four teams have worked for all season long and now their dreams can become a reality should they get the big victory this Sunday. We are one step closer to New Orleans and Super Bowl 47 but before we get there we must preview the upcoming AFC & NFC Championship Games for this Sunday:

AFC Championship Game:

(2) New England Patriots vs. (4) Baltimore Ravens

It’s a rematch of the 2011 AFC Championship Game as the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens meet once again at Gillette Stadium with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. This will obviously be Baltimore’s chance to avenge last year’s tough loss to New England and it will be the Patriots chance to prove once again that they “own” the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots are heavy sports betting favorites on the books. It should be a really good matchup as a trip to the Super Bowl hangs in the balance.

To me, this year’s New England Patriots team is much more “complete” then the team from a year ago. That team went to the Super Bowl and now this team could very well have the same fate should “history repeat itself” with a victory against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game, again. The Patriots are looking really good in all facets of the game currently as their defense has improved a lot from a year ago and their running game is really putting it together allowing the offense to really spread things out. I’m not sure if this is a Super Bowl winning team just yet, but they are certainly making a really strong case for that title should they advance on Sunday night.

As for the Baltimore Ravens they are clearly (now) this season’s Green Bay Packers of 2010 and New York Giants of 2011. Reason why I say that is because they have “peaked” at just the right time in this season and have proven all the doubters wrong to get to this point. Baltimore looks to avenge their AFC Championship Game loss from last season against the Patriots and looks to defeat this team for the 2nd time in the 2012 season (Baltimore beat New England in Week 3). This is a team with a ton of emotional momentum heading into Foxboro on Sunday night and I really like how they have rallied under the notion that each game could be the last of their leader, Ray Lewis.

When I think about this game it’s really hard to pick a winner to represent the AFC in New Orleans at Super Bowl 47. Last season I picked the Baltimore Ravens to win as they were my preseason AFC Champion in 2011 and they ended up losing (thanks to a missed field goal from Billy Cundiff) to New England in the AFC Championship Game. This season I am going to take the New England Patriots simply because I believe they have really put it together from last year. They are a better team then they were when they played in Super Bowl 46 and I believe they will once again be crowned AFC Champions for the 2nd consecutive year in a row.

Prediction: Patriots 30 Ravens 21

NFC Championship Game:

(1) Atlanta Falcons vs. (2) San Francisco 49ers

The NFC was a very tough conference in 2012 and these were without a doubt the two best teams in it. It only makes sense that both of these teams battle it out for the NFC Championship crown and the right to play in Super Bowl 47. Both of these teams have a lot to prove come this Sunday as there are questions on whether or not either team can get it “done” with the right to play in New Orleans on the line. We will get our answer in the Georgia Dome this Sunday afternoon and one team will be left standing with no more questions to plague them in 2012.

All season long I have questioned the ability of this Atlanta Falcons team and whether or not we can consider them “for real.” Unlike prior seasons in Matt Ryan’s career they have proven me wrong in 2012 and deserve the right to be playing for the NFC Championship crown on Sunday afternoon against the 49ers. With the “monkey” off of Matt Ryan’s back (by getting a playoff win), a clear picture to Super Bowl 47 within their grasps, it will be up to their franchise QB to final reach the next level and get Atlanta to the Super Bowl. But before they do such they will have to go through a very tough 49ers team.

Unlike the Atlanta Falcons, I have praised the San Francisco 49ers all season long. I have believed since Week 1 that this is the best fundamentally sound team on both sides of the ball in the National Football League. We already knew that they had a tremendous defense and their offense got better after they handed the “keys” over to then-backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick when Alex Smith went out with an injury. If the San Francisco 49ers want to keep this amazing season going they must get the victory Sunday afternoon against the Falcons on the road.

I believe this NFC Championship Game will be a hard fought game that won’t be decided until the final moments of the 4th quarter. Both of these teams are extremely good offensively and defensively with either one being a strong contender for the Vince Lombardi trophy should they advance once Sunday is in the books. But for me I need to keep riding what I’ve been saying all season long and that’s the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in Football in all facets of the game. It’s been a long time coming but I like the “red and gold” making a return trip back to the Super Bowl.

Prediction: 49ers 28 Falcons 25

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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Jeff Peck

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