NFL Picks: Who’s headed to the Super Bowl?Published 4:04pm Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Here are the picks:gear
San Francisco at Atlanta
It’s really hard for me to have a faith in the Atlanta Falcons. They’ve had very few memorable playoff victories in franchise history and Matt Ryan just picked up his first career playoff win, but they might have more motivation than any of the four teams remaining.
The team has gotten no respect all season long and if head coach Mike Smith knows what he’s doing he has the locker room full of articles about the 49ers and how they’re somehow favored to beat the Falcons in Atlanta.
This is the same 49er team lost homefield advantage when it was embarrassed in a 42-13 loss at Seattle Dec. 23. It’s also the same team that lost to the Vikings and Giants and tied with the Rams.
Their biggest win was a 41-34 win over the Patriots, which saw them nearly botch a giant lead.
Collin Kaepernick showed how dangerous he can be against Green Bay, but the Packers also played him as bad as they possibly could. There outside linebackers decided to chase after fake hand-offs instead of containing Kaepernick’s outside bursts, and when Green Bay blitzed, it came from the outside which allowed Kaepernick to find the gap and get loose on the sideline.
Through the air, Kaepernick played the best he possibly could’ve. After throwing an interception for a touchdown to start the game, he was nearly flawless, connecting with covered receivers left and right. He was amazing.
The question I must ask is what are the chances of a second year quarterback having career games in back-to-back weeks? Especially with the second game coming on the road in a loud dome?
He has to be a little rattled, right?
As for the San Francisco defense, Green Bay was able to find success running on them early until Mike McCarthy inexplicably abandoned the running attack in the second half.
I don’t think Atlanta, which has a power back in Michael Turner and a speed back in Jaquizz Rodgers, will give in so soon. If you can run on the 49ers, you can also beat them over the top, because then they have to bring up their safeties, who usually like to sit back deep.
I may be foolish, but I’m buying in the Falcons.
FALCONS 27, 49ERS 20
Baltimore at New England
My gut is telling me to go with Ravens. Ray Lewis has become a much greater motivating force than I ever could’ve imagined.
He ended up with a season-high 17 tackles in last week’s win over Denver, but I think his impact went way beyond that. The entire Ravens’ roster seems hell bent on getting their leader to one last Super Bowl before he retires.
But heart can only take you so far. It’s easy to forget that, despite all the heart the Ravens showed, they would’ve lost to Denver if not for blown coverage on the 70-yard TD pass from Joe Flacco that tied the game.
I also think the Patriots, who have a surprisingly strong rushing attack, are just better than Baltimore and Denver. Tom Brady is too experienced and the New England defense has shown improvement.
PATRIOTS 31, RAVENS 20
Playoffs: 4-4; overall: 151-101