2012 NFL Playoff Bracket: Complete Championship Round Predictions

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 15, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after the Patriots won 45-10 against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The divisional round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs are complete. The only game standing between the final four teams and a trip to the Super Bowl are the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

The San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants have all advanced to their respective championship games. 

Today we'll look at a breakdown of the 2012 NFL playoff bracket and give you complete championship round predictions.


AFC Championship Game: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

Baltimore enters this game with a tough victory over the Houston Texans, while the Patriots absolutely destroyed the Denver Broncos on Saturday night.

This is a matchup of great defense vs. great offense. Baltimore's defense has been one of the best in the league, and New England's offense can put up points in a hurry.

No team really has a huge advantage because Baltimore's offense has the ability to move the ball and put up points, and New England's defense has the ability to play tough and shut teams down.

If this game turns into a shootout, the advantage definitely goes to New England. With Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are able to put up points in a hurry.


BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 15:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium on January 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/G
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Two players for Baltimore that are going to need to have a huge game is going to be Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed. Suggs is going to need to put consistent pressure on Brady, while Reed will be tasked with slowing down the deep ball for New England.

Both Reed and Suggs played very well against Houston, but they'll need to have an even bigger game against New England if they want to win.

For Baltimore, the key to their offense is Ray Rice. For the Ravens to have any shot at winning this game offensively, they need to get Rice involved in the game from the first snap.

If Rice can have a big game, it will mean that Baltimore is controlling the clock and keeping New England's offense off the field.

New England hasn't beaten a team with a winning record all year, and unfortunately, it won't start in the AFC Championship Game either. Baltimore will win this game with their stout defense and pounding the ball with Rice.

Final Score: Baltimore 24, New England 17


NFC Championship Game: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are coming off an incredible, and really an improbable victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Giants went on the road, beat Green Bay and are the lowest remaining seed in the playoffs.

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks on prior to the NFC Divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Much like the AFC Championship Game, this game features a great offense going up against a great defense. The big difference between this game and the AFC game is that the Giants have a rather talented defense to go along with their high-powered offense.

The key to victory for both teams is going to be getting the pressure on the quarterback. While Alex Smith is no Eli Manning, if either of these quarterbacks have time in the pocket, they can make plays down the field.

That means that guys like Justin Smith, Osi Umenyiora, Aldon Smith and Jason Pierre-Paul are going to need to have impressive games at getting after the quarterback. The team who gets more pressure on the quarterback will likely be heading to the Super Bowl.

Another big matchup to watch between San Francisco and New York will be running backs Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw against the run defenses.

While Bradshaw isn't the focal point of the offense like Gore is, he still makes a big difference in the efficiency of the Giants' offense. And the same goes for Gore.

If one of these running backs can break off some big runs to set up the play-action passing game, if could be a difference maker.

The 49ers have home-field advantage, but New York has absolutely proven that it can win on the road. The 2011 version of the Giants look pretty similar to the 2007 version that beat the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. 

Manning and New York will go into San Francisco and come away with the win to head to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.

Final Score: New York 28, San Francisco 21