Re: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTIONS:
posted at 1/18/2012 5:36 PM EST
In Response to CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTIONS:
[QUOTE] In the NFC, nobody really expected a Giants @ 49ers match. Everyone expected, and looked forward to, a clash of two of the three prolific offensives in the game, the Packers and Saints. But...each of these teams lost to a team with a better defense. This brings us to the AFC, where the sole remaining NFL offensive "superpower", the New England Patriots, prepares to host the best defensive team in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens. Will the theme that the team with the better defense will prevail? Here's a look at the championship games in each conference, and my picks against the spread: 1.) (11-7) NY Giants (+2.5) @ (14-3) SF 49ers: The 49ers upset the Saints because they forced five (5) turnovers. I don't care how good an offense a team has...when a team spots the other team 17 points due to turnovers, that team turning it over is going to lose. The key to this game is whether the 49ers' front seven can get consistent pressure on Giants' QB, Eli Manning. If they can, turnovers will follow. If not, look for Eli to pick the 49ers' secondary apart, much like he did to the Green Bay secondary. The similarities between this postseason and the 2007 postseason for the Giants are eerie. They are playing their best football at the right time, again. Their defense is suddenly healthy, and getting pressure on the opposing QB, again. But...there's a difference. QB Eli Manning looks like the NFC's answer to Tom Brady, over the past four weeks. He is carrying the Giants' offense. Based on what I've seen, the Giants are the most balanced team of the four remaining squads. They won't turn the ball over, like the Saints did: PICK: Giants; 2.) (13-4) Baltimore Ravens (+7.5) @ (14-3) New England Patriots: The defensive minded Ravens seem to match up very well against the Patriots. Two years ago, they embarrassed the Good Guys, 33-14, in Foxboro. Most of the key players that played for them in that game remain...ILB Ray Lewis, OLB Terrell Suggs, DT/DE Haloti Ngata, FS Ed Reed, CB Lardarius Webb, RB Ray Rice, QB Joe Flacco, and a solid OL, led by C Matt Birk, and OGs, Ben Grubbs and Marshall Yanda. If you go back and review the Ravens' games, you'll see that whenever they get off to a fast start, and take the lead, the game is over. That's exactly what happened in 2009, when the Ravens put up 24 of their 33 points in the first quarter. Their meal ticket on offense is RB Rice, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry this year, and rushed for over 1300 yards. Pay close attention to the first quarter, If Rice gats running room, and the Ravens score early, it likely will be a long afternoon for Tom Brady's Boys. The Patriots have generally won by bludgeoning the opposition with their TE dominated offensive attack. But, it's been hard for Patriots' fans to go all in on this team, due to the exploits, or, more accurately, the lack thereof, of their 31st ranked defensive unit. Last week, in their 45-10 demolition of the Denver Broncos, the Patriots' defensive unit turned in by far their best performance of the season. Whether they can continue last weeks' great play is the question haunting Patriots' Nation. Most football fans have been weaned on the theory that offense sells tickets, but defense wins games. With the exception of the Denver game, the Patriots' offense has had to perform both functions. What must the Patriots do to win?: 1.) Protect Tom Brady from the likes of Terrell Suggs; 2.) Get off to a fast start, and make the Ravens play from behind; 3.) Contain RB Ray Rice at all costs. Vince Wilfolk must dominate; 4.) No turnovers. What must the Ravens do to win? Pretty much just the opposite: 1.) Pressure Tom Brady, and force him off his "spot" in the pocket; 2.) Get off to a fast start; 3.) Contain the Patriots' TEs by replacing an ILB with another safety; 4.) Be physical with the Pats' receivers, and establish the run. The fact that the Patriots are favored by 7.5 points is absurd: PICK: Ravens. Who will win? I like the Giants in the NFC. In the AFC, the team that gets off to the best start will win. If pressed to pick, I'm a believer that defense wins games. I'm also concerned about the Pats' ability to stop the run. But, I can't go against my boys. Make no mistake about it...this game is a referendum on whether these Patriots have the desire, the pride, and the toughness necessary to be a champion. Regardless of what they're saying publicly, they know that they owe the Ravens one. No excuses. It may not be pretty, but somehow, some way, they'll get it done. See you in Indy. As always, your comments and opinions are welcome.
Posted by TexasPat[/QUOTE]
Good insight, but you've neglected a hugely important fact: The Ravens also need to play a near perfect game just to keep the score within those 7.5 points.
So if you were to sit down and create a list of what the Ravens must do, it would begin with their quarterback. And frankly, they barely have one.
So 7.5 is not only realistic, I think it's actually pretty generous. Pats will win this game by 10-13. Ravens have a much bigger hill to climb to play that perfect game than do the Patriots. And right now, Brady is one angry dude. Terrell Suggs has been backpedaling from his Brady comments for a long time now, and has even stated publicly that he's one of the three greatest ever to play that spot.
This isn't going to be the 2009 playoff game.