2012 NFL Playoff Predictions: Top Defenses of Conference Championship Weekend

Jacqueline KirbyContributor IIIJanuary 17, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 15:  Ray Lewis #52 and  Jimmy Smith #22 help Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens off the field late in the fourth quarter of the Ravens 20-13 win over the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

We are quickly approaching the conference championship games on Sunday and have these teams playing their hearts out. 

New England annihilated Denver for the second time this season to make it to the AFC Championship game, while Baltimore battled it out for four quarters with Houston.  The Giants took away the Packers' dreams of winning back to back Super Bowls while the 49ers sent the Saints packing. 

Sunday's game between the Patriots and the Ravens will be a battle of one of the best offenses against one of the best defenses.  The Pats sacking Joe Flacco will be a huge contributor in winning the game.  They have 40 sacks already this season, and Flacco was sacked five times during the game against Houston. 

However, Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense are a nasty group to go against.  According to Lewis, they are prepared for the challenge, "The only reason you play this game, the only reason you play this game is for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.  We have that opportunity right now.  Whatever anybody wants to say about us, we are in position."

Ed Reed's ankle injury probably scared a few Ravens fans, but it was announced earlier that he will be on the field Sunday against the Patriots.  He had a huge game against the Texans so this will be good for Baltimore.

The Giants traveling to San Francisco will propose a challenge, but yet again, they are ready on defense.  Linebacker Michael Boley is back on the field for the Giants after a hamstring injury.  When the Giants faced the 49ers in the regular season, their defense had a lot of holes in it, but now with their players back to speed, San Francisco is really going to have to work for their points. 

Obviously there are mixed emotions on how great it would be to see New York and New England face each other again in the Super Bowl, but San Francisco and Baltimore are hungry for a chance at the title.  The last trip each team made to the Super Bowl resulted in a victory, Baltimore in 2001 and San Francisco in 1995. 

So finally, my predictions: the 49ers will beat the Giants and the Patriots will beat the Ravens.