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NFL Conference Championship Preview
This weekend the NFL will present the Conference Championship games. Two games that decide the champions of both the NFC and AFC, the teams that will meet in the upcoming Super Bowl. Should be a great weekend of football. Below I provide my take on the two games we'll be seeing on Sunday.
Both games should be very competitive and make for great entertainment. The NFC will feature the New York Giants at the San Francisco 49ers and the AFC will show the Baltimore Ravens traveling to take on the New England Patriots.
Who Will Win the AFC Conference Championship
Patriots vs. Ravens
In the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots will be hosting the Baltimore Ravens to determine who punches their ticket to Indianapolis and Super Bowl 2012. The Patriots are coming off a dominating performance in the Divisional Championship Game this past weekend against the Tebow-lead Denver Broncos. The Patriots were firing on all cylinders as Tom Brady had 5 touchdown passes in the first half alone. Their offense has many weapons so its hard to focus on just one of them.
The often maligned defense of the Patriots has also been playing alot better in the past few weeks so the Patriots are no longer strictly an offensive team.
On the other side of the ball, the Baltimore Ravens come in having just beaten the Houston Texans in a pretty tightly contested contest. The Ravens also have several weapons on the offensive side of the ball. It all starts with Joe Flacco, the QB out of the University of Delaware, my Alma Mater. Joe is a big stand-up QB who is a very effective pocket passer. His big target is Anquan Boldin, their leading receiver with over 800 yards. The bigger threat to the Patriots is the Ravens dimunitive running back, Ray Rice. Rice can break a game open at any time. His running will give the Patriots defense nightmares. And when Rice isn't running the ball, he's also a threat coming out of the backfield as a receiver.
The Ravens defense is one of the tops in the league. Tom Brady will have a much more difficult time throwing against this Raven defense led by Ray Lewis.
The only team that can probably go into Foxborough and defeat the Patriots on their home field is the Ravens. I think this will be a very close game and I look for it to be a low scoring game, mainl due to the cold weather in the northeast.
As much as I'd like to see the Ravens in the Super Bowl, I don't think they'll have enough to beat the Patriots on their homw field. I believe they'll keep things close but look for New England to win this one by a score of 24 - 17.
Who Will Win The NFC Conference Championship
Giants vs. 49ers
The New York Giants are peaking at the right time. They are healthy and their defense played absolute lights-out against the 15-1 Packers in Lambeau Field. That's not something that's easy to do. The Packers had been averaging just over 35 points per game before running into the Giants.
On the offensive side of the ball, ELi Manning has proven that he deserves to be put up there in he elite QB rating in the NFL. I've been very impressed with Eli's play this season. He's as cool as the other side of the pillow and is a great field manager. As a big Eagles fan, this isn't easy for me to say, but Eli has had a great season. Look for the Giants to bring on a balanced attack. If they can get Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw rushing for a combined 100+ yards, it will allow Eli to be able to run some play action, throwing to what might be the best receiver duo in the league in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Cruz has had a Pro Bowl season and now that teams are focusing on him, Hakeem Nicks has had two hge playoff games, scoring 2 TD's in each.
The 49ers on the otherhand are coming off what was probably the most exciting game in the NFL this season against the high powered offense of the New Orleans Saints. With 4 lead changes in the last four minutes, Alex Smith proved that he's also turned into a great QB as he lead the 49ers back afer each time the Saints scored. The 49ers have a very conservative, grind it out tpe of offense. They also have a very stingy defense that should play alot better that the Packers defense did against the Giants.
The Giants seem to be a team of destiny. Everyone is talking about the similarities to the 2007 Giants that won the Super Bowl. They did it back then by winning all their games on the road. To reach the Super Bowl, the Giants will have to win back-to-back road games to make the trip to the Super Bowl.
I think this game will also be a great game to watch and hopefully their will be good weather in the Bay Area so the offenses will be able to execute. As good as the 49ers have played all year, I'm going to have to go with the NY Giants in a 35-28 victory, to send Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants packing their backs for Indianapolis. They are destined to make it to the Super Bowl. That's all the New York media have been talking about.