How’s this sound? Only three games remain in the NFL season; four if you include the most useless all star production in sports, the Pro Bowl. That being said, find solace in the fact these are the three biggest games of the year with more history, suspense and drama than your grandmother’s favorite soap opera.
Baltimore and New England square off to punch their ticket to Indianapolis (how ironic would it be if Tom Brady won a Super Bowl on Peyton Manning’s stomping grounds?). It’s also a rematch of the 2010 Wild Card game where the Ravens handed the Pats their most embarrassing playoff loss ever; a defeat Brady nor Bill Belichick have forgotten. The late game pits the still surprising San Francisco 49ers against Joe Biden’s New York Giants, in what proves to be a throwback 1980’s kick when these teams squared off against one another quite often hosting names like Montana, Rice, Simms and Taylor. Like always though, we’ve got predictions to get the chatter box started. The bar’s open and the drinks are flowing, so feel free to leave us your comments, thoughts and everything in between.
5 Reasons The Baltimore Ravens Will Win (David D.)
1. Including the postseason, the Patriots are 2-2 against playoff teams this year. The two wins? Against the Broncos. And one of those losses was a big ol’ glass of ass whip courtesy of AFC North Steelers. The Pats are not battle tested in the least.
2. While the Pats may have lucked out by not having to face an elite QB in the AFC this year, Flacco is serviceable. Which means he’ll look like a pro bowler against what is still the worst defense an elite team has ever had.
3. Tom Brady is widely considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But there is one way to stop him: bust him in the mouth. The Ravens will create pressure and frustrate Brady with their complicated schemes and will aim to knock the Uggs out of the Golden Child.
4. Confidence. Two years ago the Ravens went to New England and absolutely crushed the Patriots. Most of those players are still there, so B’more has more than enough confidence to believe they can have a repeat performance.
5. Ray Rice. He’s still playing right? Right. Again, 30 touches and the Ravens win.
Score: 27-24, Ravens
5 Reasons The New England Patriots Will Win (AJ)
1. That Tom Brady fellow is pretty darn good at throwing footballs.
2. Ed Reed said it best: Joe Flacco looked “rattled” and squeamish against the Texans. If the Patriots open up an early lead like they did against a solid Denver defense, how confident can the Ravens really feel with Flacco tasked to keep pace?
3. As a byproduct of number two, Baltimore’s aging defense will face a large amount of pressure to curb Brady’s attack. Nine games out of 10, Ray Lewis and co. play the role of the bully. This will be that tenth game.
4. Minus New York upsetting the Pack, home teams are undefeated this postseason. Expect those crazy New England bastards to bring some intensity to Gillette Stadium.
5. Rob Gronkowski continues to prove that an elite tight end is damn near impossible to slow down. The Ravens can’t keep up with him.
Score: 28-14, New England
5 Reasons The San Francisco 49ers Will Win (Raj)
1. San Francisco’s receivers will find their hands again. Last week versus the Saints, Crabtree and Ginn had drop-filled days, but today will be different. Crabtree will especially have a standout day with over 100 yards and a touchdown.
2. Ginn was one of the elite special teams returners over the regular season and he will take one to the house against N.Y.
3. The 49ers run defense will hold Jacobs and Bradshaw to combine for under 100 yards and when Eli Manning compensates for it with play fakes and long passes, San Francisco’s secondary will be ready and waiting.
4. Vernon Davis is a matchup nightmare (who made me look like a genius last week) and he’s going to continue putting up God-like numbers. This time he’ll have over 150 yards and a score.
5. Harbaugh, Harbaugh, Harbaugh. Don’t think that the Niners’ coach forgot how his brother smashed his team on Thanksgiving. No revenge can be sweeter than a Super Bowl payback victory and he won’t let the Giants stand in his way of that.
Score: 20-17, 49ers
5 Reason The New York Giants Will Win (David D.)
1. It seems like every year there’s one team that squeaks into the playoffs and carries that momentum right into the Super Bowl. The Giants are that team this year. After crushing the Packers, no team is hotter.
2. Was Alex Smith’s 4th quarter heroic display a new trend or a fluke? I’m leaning towards fluke. The Saints D held him in check for most of the game and the Giants have a far superior secondary and front four.
3. The 49ers eeked out a victory the first time they played but that was a different Giants team and even then they were 10 yards away from stealing a win.
4. Vernon Davis was Superman for San Fran last week, but chances are they’ll have to look elsewhere for a spark as the Giants have held Jermichael Finley, Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten to a combined 150 yards over the last three weeks. The Giants may have learned the secret to defending the tight end.
5. San Francisco was able to yank away five turnovers last week. The Giants won’t give the ball away that many times and fall behind by 17. So it’s up to the 49ers to play a tight game throughout. My money’s on Eli in the clutch.
Score: 24-20, Giants