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Topic: Conference Championship Games Predictions
 Russ Bliss_108
Membership: Starter
Joined: September 04
Total Posts: 19878
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Post Date: 01/20/13 12:29
0-2 Saturday

2-0 Sunday

Some weeks are just that way.

At least the games were exciting and high scoring. I expect a bit more of the same this week.

In the first game, we have my preseason sleeper Super Bowl pick of the Atlanta Falcons at home against Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick has the media buzzing with excitement about the new way QB's are going to be playing the position for years to come. Didn't we hear the same thing with RG3? And Cam Newton? And Michael Vick? And Steve Young? And Fran Tarkenton?

Okay, I digress, but the point is that every time a QB shows exceptional rushing skills, we get blitzed with hype about how it's going to be the new trend. This game will be a mini-capsule showcasing the two styles. Matt Ryan is every bit the traditional drop back style of QB while Kaepernick is representative of the new style where the QB is the most dangerous player on the field. Which type will win? I think it's going to come down to a simple matter of experience. While I can easily see Kaepernick having another exceptional game, I can also see him struggling in Atlanta like he did a few times towards the end of the season. I think the Falcons will not make the mistakes the Packers did in not putting a spy on Kaepernick and while the Falcons won't run the ball nearly as effectively against the 49ers as they did against the Seahawks a week ago, I also think that the trio of Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez will be more than capable of burning the 49ers secondary as long as the Falcons offensive line can give Matt Ryan time in the pocket.

In the other game, the Baltimore Ravens and the Ray Lewis farewell tour marches on after a surprise win last week over the Broncos. I say surprise as I think Denver dropped the ball by not trying to win the game in regulation (something Peyton Manning has historically been able to do). But again, this digressing. The Ravens were my official pick to win the Super Bowl back in preseason and I said that Joe Flacco would emerge this season. While he has had some down games this season, he's also showed plenty of reason to think he's ready to take the step up and join Eli Manning in that near elite QB category (although Eli had issues this season). The biggest obstacle for the Ravens isn't Tom Brady; it's stopping the Patriots running game. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen have done exactly what they were drafted to do: bring back a rushing attack that opponents feared. The Ravens have struggled stopping the run this season and it is the primary concern I have. The only thing the Patriots have lacked offensively the last several seasons has been that rushing attack and now they have one. Both defenses are not nearly as good as their reputations make them out to be. I think this will be a high scoring game as well.

It's funny that before the 2011 season, I took the Patriots and Falcons to meet in the Super Bowl that year and now it may come true a year later. Kind of like when I predicted a Green Bay/Pittsburgh Super Bowl a few years back that didn't happen until the following season. It could be that way and our fantasy football software analyzer has predicted a Patriots/Falcons Super Bowl from these matchups. But I'm going to go in a different direction. And while I think a Patriots/49ers Super Bowl 47 is what most expect (and easy to see), I'm going to go out on the limb and take both underdogs this week. My predictions for this week:

Atlanta 31, San Francisco 28
Baltimore 27, New England 23

I'm hoping to nail both my preseason pick of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl, and my sleeper pick of Atlanta representing the NFC.
On any given Sunday any fantasy team can beat another, only to still lose Monday night.
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