Standing next to Jess and Scott on this one, I feel like the 8th best quarterback in the league who got a Pro Bowl invite only because all the good quarterbacks pulled out. If those two are Brady and Manning, I'm David Garrard.
Don't sell yourself short, Eric. You're at least Rodgers, only more likable.
I'm sure our resident experts, Eric (gearhead) and Scott, need no introduction. Both have been here since long before I joined the site over five years ago, and both have proven that they do know their sports. Of course, as we also know, football is weird, so it's always fun to see just how wrong we can be on any given Sunday, or how lucky we can get.
Let's do this...
Niners @ Falcons:
In a fine pissing in the corn flakes moment, most people were starting to give this game to the Niners right around the time the clock hit :00 at the Georgia Dome last week. This seems premature. Atlanta will actually be prepared for the Colin Kaepernick read option, unlike Dom Capers. The Falcons also have weapons on offense against a defense that can give up yards in the air. Finally, the Falcons do have home field and a screaming crowd, something San Francisco did not adapt well to last time it happened. That said, there is evidence the Falcons have problems with quarterbacks like Kaepernick (see: Cam Newton vs. Atlanta this year), and Atlanta's complete inability to rush the passer can't be a good thing. The Falcons are good, but the Niners are a touch better. San Francisco 31 Atlanta 24
Yes, I know the 49ers have a great team that was very impressive last week in beating the Packers but as a Rams fan, it's against everything I believe in to root for San Francisco to win a game. I do think the Falcons have a chance to shock the world, even though they are the #1 seed in the NFC. Matt Ryan and company exorcised some demons last week in beating the Hawks and I think their offense can move the ball on the 49ers. The problem will be defensively and trying to contain Colin Kaepernick. Atlanta struggled with containing Russell Wilson and IMO, Kaepernick offers up more of challenge because he is a more dangerous runner. I expect a bunch of points and in the end, the Falcons advance to the Super Bowl thanks to a Matt Bryant field goal. Falcons 34-31
We all know how I feel about the Niners; I share Scott's disdain. And I'm also not totally convinced that they're a much better team than the Falcons. I haven't watched a whole lot of NFL Network this week and I never watch ESPN, but from the sounds of it the media has already crowned the Niners NFC champs. Eric, I agree with you about that being premature. While I fear the Falcons won't quite have what it takes to contain Kaepernick, I'm hoping they do have what it takes to keep that D away from Matt Ryan. The Falcons may have been squeaking out wins all season, but another way I see it is that they're finding a way to win while facing adversity. I think they can do it. And I'm jumping on Scott's prediction coattails and saying that they do it in a high scoring game by a field goal. Am I picking with my heart instead of my brain? Yep. But I've done that before, and it worked out quite well.
Ravens @ Patriots:
Just like in the NFC title game, most people seem to be handing this one to the Patriots already. This neglects the fact that the Ravens beat New England just this year and always plays the Pats tough. Baltimore's passing game is based almost solely on the deep ball, and if it works again like it did last week then they'll have a good chance to win. The problem is an offense based on the deep ball is always going to be inconsistent, so it's far from a guarantee Flacco can find Smith or Jones deep again, or that anyone on the Patriots will pull a Rahim Moore. The Ravens also have to find a way to stop New England's offense. I'm guessing that missing Gronkowski won't slow the Patriots enough so that Baltimore's aging D can keep up. New England 34 Baltimore 24
Ravens certainly surprised a bunch of the so called "experts" by going into Denver and ending Peyton Manning's comeback season so going into Foxboro and winning isn't out of the question, especially after the Ravens had the Patriots on the ropes last season in this game before self destructing late and losing. As much as it pains me to say, and yes, I still harbor some ill will to the Patriots for their win in Super Bowl XXXVI over my Rams, the Patriots just have too much experience with Tom Brady at the helm. If you had to choose between Brady and Joe Flacco as your starting quarterback in a winner take all game, I think the overwhelming majority would take Brady. Patriots have too much offense and send Ray Lewis into retirement 2 wins short of his second Super Bowl ring. Patriots 35 - 17
Just. Ugh. I was just as shocked as anybody (except maybe Pat) when the Ravens beat the #1 seed Broncos last week. I will be shocked again if they win this game. But I will hope for it. Flacco impressed me last week. And I can't be the only one who wonders why Ray Rice doesn't have the ball more often. Other than that, I don't have a whole lot to say about this game. It seems incredibly lopsided, but you never know what can happen. Prediction? Pats win. As much as it pains me.
If it helps, remember that a.) I don't know anything and b.) the consensus has gone towards a San Francisco-New England Super Bowl, which means there's no way it will happen.
I completely agree - since everyone's been predicting a Niners/Pats Super Bowl, it almost seems impossible to not have an upset today.
Grab a drink, have a seat, and Q it up here today while we discuss the games, cheer for our favorites (or against our rivals) and enjoy a little bit more football before it goes away for months!