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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Championship Round Selections

Baltimore Ravens +7 @ New England Patriots

Having attended a lacrosse crazed private school filled with
insufferable Ravens and Pats fans, no matter who wins this game, we
all lose.

The Texans were clearly the better team last weekend. Unfortunately
for Houston, TJ Yates happened on the way to the AFC Championship.
Baltimore's offense looked stagnant and ineffective. Making matters
worse, Ed Reed suffered an ankle injury. Reed will certainly play,
but how limited will he be? The Ravens defense without Reed is like
Harold Melvin without he Blue Notes. The Pats, on the other hand,
decimated an overachieving Denver team. Lest we all forget, Denver
was left for dead. Pundits calling for Tebow rationalized the move by
assuming the season was a lost cause. The Patriots won big against an
overmatched team.

A couple of predictions:

- Ray Rice runs all over the Patriots defense.

- Joe Flacco misses an open Torrey Smith at least twice

- Brady makes some surprisingly bad reads resulting in at
least 1 interception

- Wes Welker terrorizes LarDarious (French for "The rDarious") Webb.

The Patriots will by virtue of Joe Flacco's ineptitude and misplaced
sense of self worth. However, its close and the Ravens run the ball
well enough to keep Brady on the sidelines. Danny disagrees with my
pick as he is a firm believer that in the NFL, during the post season,
DEFENSE wins games...


Eric - BAL 20 NE 27
Danny- BAL 24 NE 23


New York Giants +2 @ San Francisco 49ers


When did this Giants team turn into the '72 Dolphins? Humility has
gone the way of the Do-Do in New York. With shades of the 2007 team,
New York is wildly impressive. They're a more evolved team. They
have a fantastic passing attack, great offensive guard play, the
threat of a running game, and they get after the passer with as many
people as we've seen. That may not sound like evolution, but I argue
differently. The running game provides a real threat. While it isn't
likely they'll dominate (say 160+ yards), it's a real and dangerous
threat they may. This idea (the threat) is more important that what
actually occurs. It keeps teams honest and off balance and accounts
for a major portion of the opposition's preparation. Brandon Jacobs
sucks- most of the time- but the pendulum may swing wildly and he'll
resemble Otis Anderson circa 1989. They're protection is fantastic up
the middle. Guards often go unheralded due to the attention placed
upon tackles. The ability to protect allows a QB to feels safe and
move up in the pocket which helps to mitigate the opposition's outside
rushers (likely their best pass rush players). Defensively, the
Giants sport a pass rush foursome that helps overcome seeming
secondary deficiencies. The secondary lacks an all star case, but
with the right pass rush they're more than competent. Given enough
time with modern rules, even Deon Sanders wouldn't stand a chance.
The Giants are an evolved team. Whether by accident or not, they've
helped create a modern blueprint.

The 49er's are as old school as they come. The play defense well, run
the ball well, pass deep only on occasion and do not turn the ball
over. It's a mix that will always keep you relevant. However, they
lack a certain something offensively. I have enjoyed the resurgence
of the 49er's and the redemption of Alex Smith. If you'll recall,
Smith became the de facto number 1 pick after Matt Lienart decided God
only gives you so many years to enjoy sorority crush parties and went
back for his senior year. Smith was not ready for such pressure..
Especially with a team that had zero stability and a dearth of talent.
As much as I have enjoyed watching Smith, I am concerned how he will
fare against this New York pass rush. Can Frank Gore take enough of
the load off of Smith to allow a typical David Akers led win?
Doubtful.

Danny on the other hand agrees with a lot of the above ink, but he
still believes in the 49ers defense. After beating the Saints last
week with some big time plays from Alex Smith the 49ers get another
home game and they will be more than ready for this game thanks in
large part to the SHOULD BE- Coach of the Year in Jim Harbaugh. This
guy is a beast and has the 49ers rolling. They will create turnovers
from INT-happy Eli Manning, but let's not forget the history of Jacobs
and Bradshaw fumbling against good teams that force turnvovers. The
49ers will play safe football causing this to be a close game and
leave a side door open for Eli, but I just don't think he pulls it
off. Hell of a year for him, but the 49ers have been consistent all
season long and consistency is expected on Sunday.


Eric - NYG 24 SF 19
Danny - NYG 17 SF 24

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