2011 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championship Predictions

Conference Championships

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AFC Championship

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(2) Baltimore Ravens vs. (1) New England Patriots

The classic matchup pitting offense verse defense. New England enters the game having put together a dominating offensive performance against the Denver Broncos. Baltimore rode its patented defense to victory over the Houston Texans.

Even though they say defense wins championships I believe the difference in this game will be quarterback play. Tom Brady, who is coming off a record setting game on Sunday will have to have a huge day. Although Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez are Brady’s top targets don’t be surprised to see a Chad Ochocinco sighting. Brady must attack the aging Ravens defense all game long.

Even though the defense is the strong point for the Ravens, the offense will be the key to victory. Ray Rice is bound to have a big day, but the Pats will allow that. It will be up to Joe Flacco to play the best game of his career. Flacco must ignore the critics including teammate Ed Reed.

In the end I feel that Tom Brady and the Patriots offense will be too much for Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and company. Look for the Patriots to advance to Super Bowl XLVI with a 27-17 victory.

NFC Championship

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(4) New York Giants vs. (2) San Francisco 49ers

Candle Stick Park was rocking last weekend when 49ers qb Alex Smith connected with Vernon Davis for a 14-yard touchdown to takeout the New Orleans Saints. Eli Manning and his New York Giants went into Lambeau Field and beat up the defending champs en route to a big victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Both teams feature good defenses with an excellent pass rush. Rushing the passer will be crucial for both teams. For San Fran Justin Smith and Aldon Smith are the guys to watch for on the pass rush. For NY look for Osi Yumenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Jason Pierre-Paul to disrupt Alex Smith.

This leads me to the main key to victory. As I’ve been saying all playoffs quarterback play will rule the day. Even though Alex Smith had the game of a lifetime last sunday, the Giants have the advantage. I don’t expect Alex Smith to have nearly as much success against a far superior defense. The Giants defense is a lot better than it was when the Niners defeated the Giants earlier this season. Also, Eli Manning is more proven and playing the best football of his career.

I believe this will be a close, physical game but I like the Giants to advance to Super Bowl XLVI with a 24-21 win over the 49ers.

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