NFL Conference Championship Predictions: Giants 49ers, Pats Ravens
NFL Conference Championship Picks and Predictions: The New York Giants will defeat the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens will stun the New England Patriots – 2012 is all about revenge.
Many people would love to see a rematch of the 18-1 Patriots Giants Super Bowl. Others want to see the Har-bowl featuring the the Niners’ and Ravens’ fraternal coaches. Personally, I want to see the Giants in a rematch with the Baltimore Ravens. I know the teams are completely different, but there’s more at stake than that.
First of all, I made a bet last year for the NFC to win the Super Bowl at even money, and if the Patriots beat the Ravens I won’t have any value in my moneyline pick. Secondly, the no-call on the pass interference from the last playoff game between the Giants and 49ers was one of the biggest blunders in NFL officiating history. It needs to be righted. Lastly, I don’t like New England.
So how can this come to fruition? It’s unlikely, since I’m giving up around ten combined points by picking the games the way my heart wants to see them. How will the Ravens possibly stop the Patriots? Do the Giants have anything left to slow down one of the most underrated teams in the NFL?
Baltimore Ravens (+7) at New England Patriots
The Patriots hemorrhage yardage but buckle down in the red zone. They have a weak secondary, but the Ravens have a perennial playoff choker at quarterback and I expect those two weaknesses to cancel out. I assume that the Ravens will be able to march down the field like every other team in the NFL, but when it really matters the Ravens have one of the best finishers in the NFL. Ray Rice is a slippery option out of the backfield and can catch passes better than any other back in the league. Look for Rice to be the difference and the Ravens to finish off drives with points.
The Patriots will score, but the Ravens defense will keep them in the game.
The Ravens will be able to win if they can hang around long enough to force a mistake. They can’t fall behind early because depending on Joe Flacco will not lead to a victory. The Ravens need a big dose of Ray Rice and a big play on defense or special teams. I think they’ll find a way. I hope they’ll at least keep it within a touchdown.
Ravens 27 – Patriots 24
New York Giants (+2.5) at San Francisco 49ers
A huge lead is blown in the fourth quarter. Morale is at an all-time low. It’s the final minutes of the last game of the Giants’ season. A miracle drive comes down to one final play with time expiring. A field goal attempt offers redemption from one of the greatest collapses in playoff history. The free-agent long snapper signed for the playoffs botches the snap. The holder rolls out yelling “Fire, fire, fire”. The end releases. A hopeless pass flutters through the air, legally, before the game comes to an unfortunate end. Then, inexplicably, the receiver is tackled.
No pass interference, game over, Giants lose. Instead of an untimed down to close out the fourth quarter, the Giants’ season comes to an end. The league later admits the blown call.
Now, years later, redemption is again on the line for the New York Giants. After nearly missing the playoffs, costing Tom Coughlin his job, and sending the franchise into a playoff-less spiral, the Giants are back. They’ve got all the momentum in the world.
The 49ers have a great defense but Eli Manning won’t be deterred. The Giants running game, once useless, is one of the most productive tandems in the postseason. The Giants defense is in a favorable matchup with Alex Smith after taking out Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Tony Romo in consecutive weeks.
I’m not sleeping on the 49ers but the Giants are rolling. Coughlin won’t allow a let down after a huge win against the Packers and Harbaugh isn’t experienced enough for a game of this magnitude. The Niners’ win against the Saints was a shock, but the Saints have no defense. The Giants will shut down Alex Smith.
Giants 28 – 49ers 17
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