By: C.J. Doon
About last week…
You might remember me picking Denver, Green Bay, and Seattle to advance? Yeah…about that…
In fact, I feel so bad about last week’s picks that I practically spent this entire weekend thinking of excuses to explain picking three out of the four games wrong. Here’s what I came up with.
- Vince Wilfork ate my homework.
- Did I say “Totally Realistic Playoff Predictions”? I meant “Totally UN-Realistic”.
- Colin Kaepernick is actually a hyper-athletic cyborg created by Jim Harbaugh for the sole purpose of winning the Super Bowl. Seriously, what kind of human quarterback runs like that?
- Joe Flacco and Peyton Manning are pulling a hilarious joke on everybody by switching bodies. Seriously, enough guys. We’re all laughing our asses off over here.
So, there you have it folks. I think that explains everything. Oh, and don’t forget about Matt Ryan selling his soul to the devil for his first playoff win. That was kind of important.
Now, let’s move on to this week’s “Totally Realistic (But Unlikely) Playoff Predictions!
This week, it’s the Conference Championships.
Home team in CAPS
San Francisco 49ers (2) vs. ATLANTA FALCONS (1)
You know, it’s funny. The Falcons and 49ers were the two top seeds in the NFC, and yet it’s somehow surprising that both teams advanced to the Conference Title!
The Falcons (specifically, Matt Ryan) needed to prove to critics and football pundits everywhere that they could win the “big game”, and they did just that with a thrilling hold-on-tight-because-we-might-end-up-blowing-this-in-the-end victory over the Seahawks in the Divisional Round.
The 49ers are a bit less surprising, only because we know what to expect by now from a Jim Harbaugh coached football team: a physical, hard-nosed, smash-mouth style group that plays with tremendous confidence. What we didn’t expect was the emergence of an explosive playmaker with poise beyond his years in Colin Kaepernick.
This NFC Title game is one of the most interesting matchups of the entire season. You have the first-ever number one seed entering the game as a 4.5 point home underdog that just so happened to have the best record in the NFC. Then you have the 49ers, a team coming off an absolutely dominating performance over the Green Bay Packers where, oh by the way, their second-year quarterback set the NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game in his first career playoff start.
The key matchup in this game will be the 49ers’ defensive front vs. the Falcons’ offensive line. The 49ers’ fearsome duo of Justin and Aldon Smith will be put to the test against Atlanta’s rugged line, a unit that kept Matty Ice squeaky clean against the Seahawks’ front four. If Matt Ryan has time to throw, he is capable of picking apart a defense with offensive weapons Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez at his disposal. If the 49ers can get pressure on Ryan early in the game, I think it will disrupt Matt Ice’s rhythm and ultimately lead to big mistakes.
There is no question that the 49ers are the better football team in this matchup. However, Atlanta is a frightening team at home, and can feed off the energy of the crowd to race out to an early lead. If Atlanta can start out hot yet again, I think they can pull off the upset.
The Pick: Atlanta 31, San Francisco 28
Baltimore Ravens (4) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1)
Baltimore vs. New England is slowly becoming one of the most heated rivalries in the entire NFL. This season marks the second in a row where Brady and the Pats face off against Ray Lewis and the Ravens with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
Last season, Baltimore came within a Billy Cundiff field goal of advancing to their first Super Bowl since 2000, only to see it fade away (wide left, actually) into the crisp Foxborough night. This season, there’s only one thing on every Baltimore player’s mind: revenge.
I don’t know how this happened, but I find myself leaning towards picking the Ravens in this game. There’s absolutely no reason for me to have confidence in Joe Flacco and an 83-year-old Ray Lewis, but something tells me that this is the moment where Baltimore finally gets over the hump. In fact, it violates one of the cardinal rules of sports betting: don’t pick against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots!
But this is the post-Spygate era. Anything can happen. Hell, last week I saw Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick out-duel the likes of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. What am I supposed to believe?
And you know what? I couldn’t be more confident.
The Pick: Baltimore 35, New England 34
Last Week: 1-3