NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: Dates, Times, Predictions and More
Just two games remain before the Super Bowl—arguably America's biggest sporting spectacle—is finally set for the 2012-13 NFL season.
The winner of the NFC (San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons) and AFC (Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots) will meet on the first Sunday of February at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
In the following slides, we'll break down each conference championship game Sunday and set up who we think will be playing in Super Bowl XLVII.
San Francisco 49ers (12-4-1) at Atlanta Falcons (14-3), Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET
Matt Ryan and the Falcons have finally developed some postseason trust, and the Georgia Dome is one of those places that can be a real and measurable home-field advantage.
But there's one set of stats that shifts the balance of the NFC title game San Francisco's way.
In two games against Carolina Panthers dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton, Atlanta allowed 704 yards of total offense (202 rushing), six touchdowns and zero interceptions. Last week, Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson accumulated 445 total yards (60 rushing), three touchdowns and just one turnover in Atlanta.
The Falcons have had their shots at stopping athletic quarterbacks this season. Those efforts have mostly failed miserably. Newton and Wilson combined for 1,149 yards and nine touchdowns in three games.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who possesses a skill set that may exceed both Newton and Wilson, is coming to Atlanta Sunday with the confidence that only a performance in his first playoff start can produce.
Expecting the Falcons to suddenly get the holes figured out on defense—while prepping for Kaepernick and his Pistol formation—is too much to ask.
Pick: 49ers 31, Falcons 24
Baltimore Ravens (12-6) at New England Patriots (13-4), Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET
The Ravens have a hot quarterback, inspired defense and the confidence of both back-to-back wins to open the playoffs and a regular season win over the Patriots.
Given the recent history of teams that look like the 2012-13 Ravens (2007 Giants, 2010 Packers, 2011 Giants), there's ample reason to think Baltimore can go into New England and stamp its second-ever trip to the Super Bowl.
That said, picking against the Patriots here is a more difficult choice.
Tom Brady and the New England offense average more plays per game than any unit in football, and you have to wonder when fatigue will finally catch up to an older Baltimore defense. Maybe it already has.
While the Ravens have five takeaways on defense this postseason, they've also allowed over 400 total yards and 135 rushing yards a game. The Patriots offense finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both points and yards.
If Brady can take care of the football, the Patriots should be able to fend off the Baltimore magic in New England. It's going to take another Herculean effort from Joe Flacco to get the Ravens into the Super Bowl.
Pick: Patriots 34, Ravens 27
Super Bowl XLVII, Sunday, February 3, Time TBA
The AFC and NFC winner will meet in New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2013. The official time of Super Bowl XLVII has not been announced.