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Friday, January 20, 2012

NFL Playoff Predictions: Conference Championships


 VS  


Baltimore at New England.  Sunday at 3:00 on CBS.  This has been the Year of the Offense.  Now that the Packers and Saints are out of the playoffs, the Patriots are the glamour team left in contention.  The Pats were 13-3 in the regular season.  But here is a little secret, the Patriots did not beat a single team that finished the season with a winning record.  That includes the Broncos who ended up 9-9.  Contrast that with the Ravens.  The Ravens swept the Steelers and the Bengals. They beat the Texans twice, and Matt Schaub played in the first game.  The Ravens also beat the 49ers.  Those are all playoff teams.  The game has been framed by many as a classic clash of the Patriots potent offense against the Ravens defense.  But that is not how I see this game.  The Ravens defense will play well.  But no one can shut Brady and his tight ends down completely.  So, the real question in the game is who will put their team over the edge: the Ravens offense or the Patriots defense.  Last week notwithstanding, the Ravens offense has shown at different times during the season that they are quite capable.  But, in the end, I think the Patriots defense will do just enough to protect the lead that Brady and the Gronk will give them.  Banshee prediction: Patriots 28, Ravens 24.



 VS  

New York at San Francisco.  Sunday at 6:30 on FOX.  Last week, the Giants showed America (and the Banshee) why they were the sexy pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  And now they are only one win away.  Meanwhile, the 49ers bested the Saints (as the Banshee predicted) in one of the best games I've ever watched.  This weekend's game is hard to predict because the Giants team we've seen the last few weeks barely resembles the Giants team that took beatings from the Deadskins and squeaked into the playoffs.  Most notably, the Giants have finally gotten their running game in gear.  However, the 49ers have had their running legs under them for the entire season.  And while Alex Smith is no Eli Manning, Smith proved last week that he can rise to the occasion when needed.  The 49ers proved all season that they have a dominant defense.  Last week, they proved they can also win a 4th quarter shootout.  So, my nod goes to the 49ers at home.    Banshee prediction: 49ers 24, Giants 21