Upset Odds for 2012 NFL Conference Championship Games

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Upset Odds for 2012 NFL Conference Championship Games
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Last week, although my predictions for individual player performances in the playoffs were, for the most part, dead-on, my predictions for team performances in the playoffs were, for the most part, way off.

Specifically, when predicting the game outcomes, I was 1-3 last week.

But like Rob Schneider, I will keep trying.

Both the NFC and AFC Conference Championships feature an offensive irresistible force against a defensive immovable object.

Who will prevail?

NFC Championship pick: New York Giants over San Francisco 24-10.

Last week, the 49ers vanquished a mighty offensive powerhouse in the New Orleans Saints. Some think it's logical that San Francisco will likewise vanquish another offensive steamroller in the New York Giants.

But as I am fond of saying, the past is not a reliable predictor of the future.

Remember, the 49ers didn't exactly snuff out the Saints' offensive freight train. The Saints tacked up 32 points on the vaunted 49ers defense.

The main reason San Francisco pulled off the upset was that their offense shocked the world with 36 points—the second-most they've scored all season.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

This time, the 49ers are facing a team with a serious defense.

While the Giants gave up the eighth-most points allowed in the regular season, the defense really stepped it up in the playoffs. They shut out a solid Atlanta offense and followed it up by holding the Packers offensive juggernaut to just 20 points.

Two things are certain: 49ers tight end Vernon Davis will not have another big game this time. And quarterback Alex Smith will turn back into a pumpkin.

Upset odds for the 49ers: 10%.

AFC Championship pick: New England over Baltimore 27-20.

The Ravens are 12-4 this season. They have an amazing defense.

Then again, their defense never faced an offensive opponent like the Patriots all season.

Aside from wideout Wes Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski, New England quarterback Tom Brady also has tight end Aaron Hernandez, who plays like a wide receiver, according to NFL analyst Greg Cosell.

Brady is so talented, he even resurrected Deion Branch from the NFL dead last week.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

And the Patriots defense is underrated. While they allowed the second-most yards in the regular season, they actually ranked 18th in most points allowed.

What's more, the Ravens aren't exactly an offensive powerhouse in the first place.

If running back Ray Rice is held in check, Joe Flacco will have to step it up. Flacco did that last week against a solid Texans defense, but if there's one word that defines Flacco, it's inconsistency.

In every game this season when Flacco did not throw any picks, his next game would always have at least one interception (the lone exception was when his follow-up game was zero touchdowns and zero picks).

On the bright side for the Ravens, Flacco does have the arm to exploit the Patriots defense. His offensive line will certainly play better than the five sacks allowed last week. And Rice should have a solid game.

Unfortunately, the Ravens averaged 27.4 points at home, but only 19.9 on the road. The Patriots, on the other hand, averaged nearly the same whether home (33.4) or away (30.8). With the Ravens on the road for this game, that could be the edge to send New England to the Super Bowl.

Upset odds for the Ravens: 40%.

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