Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011 NFL Playoff Predictions - Conference Championships

Only four teams left in the NFL playoffs which means the Super Bowl in Indianapolis is just around the corner. The potential Super Bowl matchups are quite intriguing. We have the possibility of having two different Super Bowl rematches. If it is the Ravens versus Giants, we will get a Super Bowl XXXV rematch. If it is the Giants versus Patriots, it will be a Super Bowl XLII rematch. We could also have the Harbaugh Super Bowl if it is the Niners versus Ravens. There would be no special significance if it was the Niners versus Patriots, but that would be a really fun matchup. If the Giants win then Eli can brag to his older brother Peyton that he has won more Super Bowls. Tom Brady and the Pats would love to add another ring to their collection while there are many players on the Niners and Ravens that would love to win their first. The Ravens have come so close the last several years and they would really love to get over the hump. The Niners haven’t made the Super Bowl since 1995 and even making it this season would be quite the story. So who will make it? That is yet to be seen, but here are my thoughts and predictions.  

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots – Sunday 3:00 ET (CBS)- This is a matchup of the Ravens defense versus the Patriots offense. I haven’t been a firm believer in either of these teams this year, but they are the best of a very average AFC. The Patriots have quite the glaring defense but yet have a high powered offense. The Ravens are about the exact opposite. They have a high powered defense and an offense that has potential, yet underperforms at times. Both of these teams met in the playoffs just two seasons ago, with the Ravens winning that game. However, the Ravens and Patriots have played each other a total of 7 times since the Ravens came into existence and the Patriots have won 6 of those games. Edge for the Patriots on that one. But overall, the game is pretty well matched and could easily go either way. In giving one team the overall edge I look at one common trend from these playoffs so far. The old saying of defense wins championships stands out like a sore thumb. The Packers and Saints both had high powered offenses but fell flat on their faces when put up against a team with a solid defense. It seems like the Patriots are going to follow that trend. They have a great offense but no defense. They Ravens fit the bill of a team that would follow this trend. Now the Patriots are 13-3, but to be honest that is a very over rated 13-3. They managed to pull that off based on a fairly easy schedule. And by saying that I am referring to the fact that the Patriots still have not beaten a team that went above .500 on the season. Meanwhile, the Ravens have played poorly on the road this season and Foxboro is a tough place to win a playoff game, but I am thinking that the Ravens will pull this one off. But it certainly won’t be easy.
My Pick: Baltimore Ravens

New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers – Sunday 6:30 ET (FOX) – I think everyone expected this game to be a shootout between the Saints and the Packers. But nonetheless, both of those teams got eliminated and instead we will be watching the Giants take on the Niners in San Francisco. Now the Niners were most likely jumping for joy when they saw or heard news of the Giants win. I don’t think that a trip to Lambeau in the winter to play the Packers wouldn’t have been too desirable and now they get to play host to the Giants. Now there is quite the story for both of these teams. The Niners haven’t been good for a while and with a brand new coach added with the lockout going on and a team that didn’t improve much during the offseason no expected them to be any good at all. Well they certainly proved people wrong. And in case someone had no idea that this team is legit, a playoff win against the Saints is pretty convincing. Yet on the other side of the stick you have the New York Giants. Now the Giants have been quite up and down all season long. They started strong but then fell on their faces quite hard and barely limped into the playoffs. However, since sneaking in to the playoffs, they have proven their worth. A 24-2 win over the Atlanta Falcons in round one was impressive and so was beating the reigning champion Packers by 17 points, giving the Pack their second loss on the season. It will be hard for the Packers and the Packers fans to swallow a one and done performance in the playoffs. This game is a tough call, but I was lucky in my last week’s picks when I said the Giants were the dark horse team in the playoffs, so I am going to go with the Giants on the slight edge and a rematch of Super Bowl XLII when the Giants topped the Pats in a thrilling game to give Eli his first ring.
My Pick: New York Giants

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