January 19, 2013

Who’s going to New Orleans?

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

There’s only three games of NFL football left this season – because you can’t include the joke that is the Pro Bowl – and the stakes have never been higher. Awaiting the winners of this weekend’s conference championship games is a ticket to New Orleans for the Super Bowl and a chance to become immortalized in the history books as a world champion. So who will be playing in the Superdome two weeks from now? Well read on to find out.

FALCONS +4 over San Francisco

Nobody believes in the Falcons, which is odd considering that they’re the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have only lost three times all season – only once at home. Since Matt Ryan took over at QB and Mike Smith at coach, the Falcons have been nearly unbeatable in Atlanta. They’ve even gotten their playoff monkey off their back by picking up their first win in four tries.

But there is a strong case to pick the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick was incredible last week and has caught the eyes of the nation. San Fran’s defence is also one of the league’s best and Justin Smith should be closer to 100% this week. They can run the ball with the best of them and Michael Crabtree has finally emerged as the receiving threat we always wanted him to be.

But here’s the big rub: Atlanta always plays close games. They don’t really blow anyone out very often and don’t get blown out. They made a habit of sneaking out victories against even the most inferior teams. Even if you don’t expect Atlanta to win, you can expect them to keep it close.

Ravens +9 over PATRIOTS

New England is good – very good. Their offence is one of the best and their defence has been improving. So why would I pick Baltimore? Because they always feel like they can beat the Patriots and always play them close. Even when riddled with injuries over the past few seasons, they’ve always put up a huge fight against the Pats.

Remember what happened last year? The Ravens by all rights should have made the Super Bowl last year, but Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff conspired against that. Those two are no longer Ravens mainly because of those failings.

You also can not forget the emotional boost the team gets from Ray Lewis potentially playing his last game – even if it is for the third week in a row.

At the very least, you have to think that this game will be closer than nine points. And at worst you can usually count on Joe Flacco for a back-door cover.

Last week: 2-2
This playoffs: 5-3

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