NFL Playoffs: AFC-NFC Championship Predictions

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NFL Playoffs: AFC-NFC Championship Predictions

Championship Weekend
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the NFL is unpredictable on a regular basis, but one could easily argue that this foursome in the Championship games were predictable from back in the preseason. Three of the four were in this exact same position during the playoffs last year. None of these teams ultimately took home the Lombardi Trophy however so this year will again feature a new champion to add to the lore of the league.

This is just another example of the more things change, the more they stay the same really in all walks of life. Plenty of analysts were quick to jump on the bandwagons of several dark horse teams throughout the course of the season, but in the end, the cream rises. The clichés really are endless concerning this quartet of teams that has represented the NFL so frequently in recent years.

One thing that wasn’t nearly as traditional was the scoring explosion that took place during last weekend’s four games. The combined 276 points scored was an unprecedented amount, the most points scored in any weekend of the playoffs in league history. Of the four remaining teams, only one had a defense ranked in the top half of the league during the regular season. In terms of offense however, all four teams were ranked in the top half in that category.

What does that mean? Don’t expect the smorgasbord of points experienced last week to be a blip on the radar. This weekend should feature plenty of scoring, and abundance of drama, and another glorious chapter into the annals of NFL lore. This is it, Championship weekend, see who moves on to Super Bowl XLVII next.

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NFC Championship: 49ers at Falcons

San Fran at Atlanta
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This game may ultimately boil down to Matt Ryan versus Colin Kaepernick and for some strange reason; I’m leaning toward the youngster. Now by no means is Ryan ‘old’, but Kaepernick just made his first career playoff start last week and set pretty much every record known to man for quarterbacking. Postseason pressure has a way of rattling you; that is of course, unless you are too young to know any better.

The San Francisco 49ers were outstanding defensively against the Green Bay Packers last week and the Atlanta Falcons looked very susceptible to a rushing quarterback in the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson. Kaepernick is a faster, stronger-armed version of that and he will likely give the Atlanta defense fits. While they did stop Marshawn Lynch quite effectively in the Divisional round, Frank Gore could be a whole different story.

This game will be nip and tuck all the way, but the time just feels right for the Niners to breakthrough. Get ready for two weeks of soundbites from Jim Harbaugh in the Super Bowl buildup and talk of Kaepernick as the new best quarterback in the league.

49ers 27 – Falcons 24

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AFC Championship: Ravens at Patriots

Baltimore at New England
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The swell of momentum that has been pushing the Baltimore Ravens over these past two weeks has been enormous. Ray Lewis and his impending retirement certainly adds some extra fuel to the fire, but not enough to take down Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road in back to back weeks… does it?

Brady and the New England Patriots may have lost Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the year in their beatdown of the Houston Texans, but Aaron Hernandez has proven to be just as capable as a pass catcher at the tight end spot. As much as Brady spreads the ball around on offense, New England won’t miss a beat.

While many proclaim that the Baltimore win in Denver was gift-wrapped, the Ravens still had to execute the plays to claim their present. It’s going to take quite an offensive explosion from Baltimore to stay close in this rematch of last year’s AFC title tilt, but I have a funny feeling about this game too.

Ravens 38 – Patriots 34