Sunday, January 20, 2013

Championship Sunday

To some, today is the holy grail of NFL season: The conference championship games.  The last games that feel like the rest of the season because the Super Bowl has become a corporate extravaganza filled with more fluff than substance.  New England, Baltimore, and San Francisco are back from last year's conference championship with the latter two looking to seek revenge.  Should be fun, fun fun!

Atlanta Falcons (+3) Vs. San Francisco 49ers: 1/20 3pm ET
San Francisco travels to Atlanta to take on the giddy Falcons who came off one of the most dramatic comeback victories since the day previous when Baltimore came back against Denver.  Congrats to Atlanta for finally getting a playoff victory in the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era.  It's been real.  I'm still not a believer in this #1 seed.  San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick is a true X factor that will throw the 49ers towards a victory for the following reason: Atlanta's linebackers will have to respect the possibility of both Kaepernick AND Frank Gore/LaMichael James running out of the zone read.  This means that they will have to either cheat up a couple of steps or freeze for a moment too long, which will allow Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis to be wide open on intermediate routes.  Falcons 20, 49ers 31
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots (-7.5): 1/20 6:30pm ET
Baltimore pulled off a true magic trick in its Mile High Miracle last week.  That is not going to happen again.  This is three straight weeks I'm picking against Baltimore straight up, but the second week in a row that I'm going to pick them against the spread.  There's a reason why the spread went from as high as New England (-11) to it's current spread of New England (-7.5).  Baltimore, for some reason, plays New England really well.  Throw in the fact that the Ravens play up to superior opponents almost as well as they play down to inferior opponents, and this game will be close.  And by close, I mean a one touchdown game.  New England is a machine, and can win by either running, throwing, or via its defense creating offense.  Simply too much firepower on all sides of the ball.  Patriots 38, Ravens 31

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