Thursday, January 19, 2012

Championship Weekend, by Casey Mitchell

This is Casey Mitchell guest blogging for ST today. It's not quite the match ups that everyone expected coming into the Playoffs, but the Conference Championship games are all set for this Sunday. It kicks off with the Ravens flying into Foxborough to face the Pats. Ed Reed injured himself late in the game on Sunday, but it seems that he will be just fine come game time. New England may be the best team left out of the remaining four teams. They are certainly the favorites but that doesn't mean that the Ravens can't pull it off. They may be old but they can still play football and they can play it well. Baltimore has the 3rd best defense in the NFL and an underrated offense. Joe Flacco will keep the Ravens in the game, and Ray Rice always has the big play threat if you are an opposing defense. Flacco didn't have his best game last week vs. the Texans, getting sacked five times and having gone 3-and-outs eight times. It wasn't a sexy performence, but he did enough to get the win and that's all that really counts when it's all said and done. On the other side of the spectrum, Tom Brady is having no problems finding his groove this postseason. Last week Brady threw for a postseason record, six touchdown passes. Brady went 26 for 34 with 363 yards in a 45-10 thrashing of Tim Tebow and the Broncos. This isn't Brady's first time around the block in big games, looking for his fourth ring in ten years, so that will be his advantage for the remaining postseason. It won't be a picnic for either team but I see New England booking their ticket to Indianapolis. Prediction -- Patriots 34 Ravens 21
As far as the NFC goes, the two hottest teams left are squaring off at Candlestick Park for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. There were a large portion of people who thought these two teams would be watching from their couch, but both these teams have proven that they will never give in. Last week, the Niners seemed as if they were dead in the water, but now everyone knows never to doubt Alex Smith ever again. Alex Smith? Yes, Alex Smith! Smith threw for nearly 300 yards against the Saints. 180 of which went to tight end Vernon Davis, who has gone threw many ups and downs in his career all the way from the "WE WANT WINNERS" rant to The Catch III. Don't get me wrong, Eli Manning is having a terrific season, all but capped off with a huge upset over the Packers at Lambeau Field. This will be a tight game filled with defense and it will most certainly come down to the wire. Prediction -- 49ers 17 Giants 14

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