NFL Playoffs: Expect 49ers and Ravens to Meet at Super Bowl XLVII
Before the NFL Playoffs began this season, I made my predictions for how they would play out. I did not have much faith either the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens.
As both teams head into their respective conference championships, they both head into their matchups with the the momentum to advance to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
NFC Championship: San Francisco (12-4-1) at Atlanta Falcons (14-3), 3:30 p.m. EST, FOX
I felt the 49ers offense was too inconsistent for a serious Super Bowl run. They faced what I thought would be a legitimate test in their 45-31 win last Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
San Francisco may have found their groove with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who set not only a playoff but an all-time quarterback rushing record with 181 yards in addition to his 263 passing yards and four total touchdowns.
While the 49ers' defense gave up 31 points, the Packers have a much more dangerous offense than the Atlanta Falcons, who will host San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.
The Falcons looked strong in the first half of their playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks before giving up 21 points in the fourth quarter to almost drop out of the playoffs early again.
But two pass plays and a field goal later, and Atlanta goes into the NFC Title Game as the host, but they aren't favored after the weak performance, a near-choke
While the Falcons were 13-3 in the regular season, they've been a one-dimensional offense after running back Michael Turner had a down season with only 800 rushing yards.
With the way the 49ers have played with Kaepernick lately, added with the strong defense led by linebackers Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis, I have to pick San Francisco to advance to the Super Bowl.
Who will play in Super Bowl XLVII?
I'm sure they've had Ted Ginn working on his fair catch, following the fiasco of his replacement Kyle Williams last year.
AFC Championship: Baltimore (12-6) at New England (13-4), 6:30 p.m. EST, CBS
This isn't an easy prediction but, when the New England Patriots are led by quarterback Tom Brady, you never want to count them out.
But I have to give the edge to the Baltimore Ravens in a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game.
The Ravens were able to shut down Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts 23-9 in the Wild Card Round before upsetting the Denver Broncos 38-35 in double overtime.
The defense, led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis in his final playoff run, has created five turnovers in the two playoff games.
But quarterback Joe Flacco has stepped up with 613 passing yards and five touchdowns in the playoffs this year.
On the other side, the Patriots are off a 41-28 win at home against the Houston Texans as Brady threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
Two good quarterbacks face off in this one, but I'm going to give the Ravens defense the advantage. Lewis' retirement announcement seems to have lit a fire under the team that could keep going all the way to the Super Bowl.
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