NFL Championships open thread

posted at 12:30 pm on January 22, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

What a surprisingly good playoff series we have had in the NFL this year!  Most of the games have been exciting, close-run affairs, and one even went (oh so briefly) into overtime.  Three of the four teams still alive in the post-season have won Super Bowl titles in the last eleven years, and one team — the New England Patriots — has played in four of those games, winning three of them.  Home teams have won almost all of the games, while the one team with the biggest perceived home-field advantage, the Green Bay Packers, ended up losing to a team that made two other Super Bowl appearances in that time, the New York Giants.

Today’s games will produce this year’s Super Bowl, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of super games in the league championships.  Here are my picks:

  • Ravens at Patriots — The Baltimore Ravens have been two different teams this season — unbeatable at home but mediocre on the road.  The Patriots, on the other hand, only lost once at home and have been peaking toward the end of the season.  The weather will play against the Ravens, and the able but aging defense will have a tough time against Tom Brady and the New England offense.  The Patriots will go to their fifth Super Bowl in ten years with a 31-20 win over Baltimore.
  • Giants at 49ers — Eli Manning and the Giants are on a roll in the playoffs, dominating Atlanta at home and then Green Bay in Lambeau Field.  The 49ers barely beat the New Orleans Saints last week in a wild finish after having a 17-0 advantage over the Saints in the first quarter.  This one should be a shootout, and the 49ers have the home-field advantage, but something tells me that the Giants will play better ball control than the Saints did last week and prevail over the scrappy, big-heart San Francisco team.  Giants win 27-24.

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Steeler 49 – Enemy 3

Bishop on January 22, 2012 at 12:34 PM

s

Bishop on January 22, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Go Big Blue! Hoping to see my beloved Giants in another Superbowl!

Yossarian on January 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Agree. Pats and Giants. Giants win it all.
-
Go Steelers!

CW on January 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM

The Ravens beat my Texans, they can beat anybody!
Baltimore 21 Boston 17

Giants came close at San Fran in regular season, but no cigar.Plenty of cigars tonight!
New York 24 San Francisco 14

cartooner on January 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Patriots will win at home…
49ers will win at home…
Gonna be a super Super Bowl!!!!

Keemo on January 22, 2012 at 12:44 PM

I really want to see another Pats/ Giants Superbowl game. That said, I think the 49ers have a better chance tonight…

Book on January 22, 2012 at 12:47 PM

The Ravens beat my Texans, they can beat anybody!

cartooner on January 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Oh I think they can beat anyone in the league but the Texans surely are not the indicator.Not without their starting Q/B.

CW on January 22, 2012 at 12:48 PM

It’s a cold and rainy day here in SF. Hopefully Roger Craig will not do the coin toss.

Helen A Handbasquet on January 22, 2012 at 12:49 PM

In an unrelated matter…RIP Joe Paterno. A man whose remarkable legacy and goodwill will always be remembered and will never be repeated.
May his passing haunt the Penn State board of trustees forever for the wrong they committed on a man who gave his all for college football.

MJZZZ on January 22, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Patriots

Niners

(I reserve the right to change my game results based on actual scores per the “Mittens” rule of political expediency).

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 12:53 PM

The hated Patriots win at home.
My beloved Giants win decisively on the road setting up a Super Bowl replay.

simkeith on January 22, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Giants may be the only NFL where the fewer home games they play the better. But the wet field will favor the 49ers running game (and Gore was injured and barely played during the teams’ first meeting). Giants will have to get Jacobs and Bradshaw going better than they did in the 27-20 loss, while the TE Vernon Davis-vs.-LB Michael Boley matchup will be the other key besides stopping Gore for the Giants’ defense (and the Giants may end up having Jason Pierre-Paul stuffing Davis at the line the same way they did with Finley in GB last week).

In the Baltimore-New England game Flacco is this year’s Mark Sanchez for the Ravens, in that he was able to game manage the Ravens or most of the season into the No. 2 seed and a spot in the AFC finals, and was able to game manage a win two years ago at Foxboro (just as Sanchez did last year). But the jury’s still out on whether he can do what Manning did to New England earlier this season and go down the field if needed late in the game for a field goal or touchdown. Ravens win if they can jump on the Pats early and set up short field scores, otherwise New England will win if Brady forces Baltimore to play from behind most of the afternoon.

jon1979 on January 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM

NE by10
NY by 7

NY Conservative on January 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Sloppy field favors the offense. So giants & pats if conditions are poor. Decent conditions, I pick niners-ravens

mdenis39 on January 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Steelers in a landslide…uh…what..psst…psst. Aw crap, just never mind.

msupertas on January 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM

The Patriots have not beaten a team, other than Denver, with a winning record this year! Ravens win in an oddly easy one. Look for the Raven pass rush to take over this game late.

The SF game will be played on a muddy field in a likely rain storm. The field will stifle the Giants pass rush and the Niners will prevail. Unless they lose all power and can never actually finish the game. Green energy has found it’s way to California in a big way!

Freddy on January 22, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Crud. Ed did you have to pick the Giants? I want them to win.

rbj on January 22, 2012 at 1:02 PM

I think the 49ers are 8-2 when Ed picks against them.

aunursa on January 22, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Ah yes, another pundit underestimating the Niners. I guess the best defense in the NFL will just have to win the superbowl. Then maybe people will start picking them to win over the lolseahawks next year during the regular season.

Kriggly on January 22, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Steelers in a landslide…uh…what..psst…psst. Aw crap, just never mind.

msupertas on January 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Unfortunately we ran into a Tebowslide.

CW on January 22, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Re: Giants at 49ers:
“This one should be a shootout”

Say wha? C’mon Ed. Niners have the best defense in the league, and if not for a great 5 minutes by Brees, held the best offense in the league to 14 points through 3.5 quarters. Eli is very good, but he isn’t Brees, and the wet field will stymie the offenses.

I don’t understand why people always pick against the 49ers, but I for one welcome it. Nobody thought wed win last week either.

Ca97 on January 22, 2012 at 1:22 PM

San Francisco passes a no tackle football law five minutes before kickoff and everyone goes home.

Limerick on January 22, 2012 at 1:25 PM

I don’t want to see a Patriots/Giants Superbowl, but I suspect that I will…..

Vntnrse on January 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM

I want to root for the G-men, but I just cant do it. Go Niners!!!

timbok on January 22, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Everyone is saying the Ravens can’t win against the Pat’s…. they don’t have a good offense. They won’t be able to stop Brady. So why even play the game.

Ravens 28… Patriots 13…

Shain1611 on January 22, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Pats vs Niners = Pats Superbowl champs………….again.

MJZZZ on January 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Crud. Ed did you have to pick the Giants? I want them to win.

rbj on January 22, 2012 at 1:02 PM

I think the 49ers are 8-2 when Ed picks against them.

aunursa on January 22, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Thanks Ed!

Go Niners!

Rovin on January 22, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Patriots at home.

Niners at home.

D-fusit on January 22, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Ravens at Patriots — The Baltimore Ravens have been two different teams this season — unbeatable at home but mediocre on the road. The Patriots, on the other hand, only lost once at home and have been peaking toward the end of the season. The weather will play against the Ravens, and the able but aging defense will have a tough time against Tom Brady and the New England offense. The Patriots will go to their fifth Super Bowl in ten years with a 31-20 win over Baltimore.

The Ravens weren’t two different teams against the Steelers this season.

Ironic that a Steelers fan would call the Ravens defense “able but aging”. And I don’t get the weather thing, Ed; we’re not in Miami. It’s 28 degrees here. I also wouldn’t say the Patriots were peaking at the end of the year; they were double-digits behind in their last three regular season games.

I know it must be heartbreaking for Steelers fans to try and cope with what is clearly a team in decline. They lost in the SB last year, then lost to the Broncos this year. Sad. Yes. But every team needs to rebuild from time to time and it looks like the Steelers are entering that phase. That it colors over the fact that your most hated team beat you twice this year is understandable. That it clouds your ability to analyze the AFC Championship teams, is not. You’re clearly betting with your heart and not your wallet.

Looking at it objectively, the Patriots didn’t beat a team with a winning record all year. The only playoff team they beat was the Broncos. The Ravens played in, AND SWEPT, the toughest division in football. We’re 7-0 vs playoff teams. Twice a year our QB plays what has been arguably a perennial top 2 or 3 defense an he’s won more games (44) in his first four years than any QB to ever play the game. He’s also the first QB ever to win a playoff game in his first four years. Brady didn’t do that. Or Manning, or Big Ben. Nope, only Joe Flacco.

Anything can happen and that’s why they play the game. But the history of these two teams is similar to that of the Ravens/Steelers- always tight, always close, always down to the forth quarter. A double-digit win probably isn’t in the cards for either team.

Go Ravens! Be Relentless!

BKeyser on January 22, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Giants 30-San Fran 17.

Zaggs on January 22, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Limerick on January 22, 2012 at 1:25 PM

LOL

You mean the same one the league has for Tom Brady?

BKeyser on January 22, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Thanks Ed… I feel better knowing you have written off the Niners. It’s considered a good omen out here.

Go Niners!

lexhamfox on January 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM

But the jury’s still out on whether he can do what Manning did to New England earlier this season and go down the field if needed late in the game for a field goal or touchdown. Ravens win if they can jump on the Pats early and set up short field scores, otherwise New England will win if Brady forces Baltimore to play from behind most of the afternoon.

jon1979 on January 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Uh, the Patriots defense isn’t exactly the Steelers defense. And yet…

BKeyser on January 22, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Patriots 30, Ravens 17
Giants 23, 49ers 20 (OT)

JammieWearingFool on January 22, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Being a Packer fan I can not cheer for the NYers… and I am so sick of the Pats, so I am going for a SF-Bal Superbowl. Then I be very happy.

watertown on January 22, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Ed. That screencap you picked for your thread is pretty harsh for us Cajuns, man – just harsh….

cane_loader on January 22, 2012 at 1:49 PM

How does the London Rams sound to you? Three home games in London over the next three years. Bloody hell.

flyoverland on January 22, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Being a Packer fan I can not cheer for the NYers… and I am so sick of the Pats, so I am going for a SF-Bal Superbowl. Then I be very happy.

watertown on January 22, 2012 at 1:49 PM

You can enjoy the Super Bowl with Ma and Pa Harbaugh.

aunursa on January 22, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Wet weather in San Fran = 49er win.

Candlestick is an old beyotch and evil to boot.

cane_loader on January 22, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Weather shouldn’t be an issue here in New England for the early game-Foxborough did get something like 6 inches of snow yesterday, but that was over relatively early and the field should be fine. Right now it’s 30 degrees there with a very light wind. The temperature later in the game shouldn’t be a factor either-the wind is going to swing and start to come out of the east and southeast late in the game, and the temperature is forecast to stay at 27 degrees the whole time, as a warm front (with rain!) will be arriving there tomorrow (it will be 45 degrees during the day tomorrow there!). I like the Patriots’ chances but won’t predict the score. I don’t see a blowout like the Denver game.

As for the other game, it’s too close to call. But I have to give the edge to the Giants simply because of their Coach, who is the second-best in the NFL right now after you-know-who. I’ve been a fan of Coughlin ever since he coached Boston College, and his NFL resume is impeccable, having been mentored by Tuna Parcells. Let’s also not forget that he took Jax to the AFC Championship Game twice.
3 points might be too small of a point spread here. I think the winner gets 6 or more.

Del Dolemonte on January 22, 2012 at 1:58 PM

“Three of the four teams still alive in the post-season have won Super Bowl titles in the last eleven years,…..”

And the one team that Ed didn’t mention here will be going for NFL RECORD for most Superbowl wins (SIX), with ZERO LOSSES.

(actually, when the Niners win the SB, they will tie the, (you guessed it), Pittsburg Steelers. But the Niners will be 6-0 while the Steel men are 6-2.)

Rovin on January 22, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Ravens 23 Patriots 17
Niners 37 Giants 13

KennyM on January 22, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Being a Packer fan I can not cheer for the NYers…

watertown on January 22, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin spent 2 years in Green Bay as their wide receivers coach. 1986-87.

Of course the Pack was horrible both of those seasons, but that’s not his fault. After all, he didn’t draft the immortal QB Robbie Bosco.

Del Dolemonte on January 22, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Would love to see the Harbaugh brothers go head to head in the Superbowl!! Go Niners!!

marinconservative on January 22, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Mr Joe Flacco needs to shave off that angry chipmunk and seperate his b-b-b-b-b-Brows if he has any hope of getting to the SuperBowl.

birdhurd on January 22, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Ravens 23 Patriots 17
Niners 37 Giants 13

KennyM on January 22, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Thats what I’m going for!! And no Thanksgiving Day massacre of the Niners this time :-)

marinconservative on January 22, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Baltimore is going to repeat their earlier victory.
Niners will beat the Giants by 3. We will have a Harbaugh Bowl. Although the idea of a Brady-Manning rematch would be too awesome, especially if Eli owns the ken doll again, all these years later.

abobo on January 22, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Fix is in, CBS just said the ref bossman at the AFC game called more roughing the passer calls than any other ref in the league. Teacher’s pet will be standing over the NE center.

Limerick on January 22, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Giants win 27-24.

On Fridays’ EMS you picked SF, what made you change your mind?

Dollayo on January 22, 2012 at 2:21 PM

I’ve never liked the 49ers or the Ravens…but I love underdogs. I also would like to see the media take it in the shorts, so I hope the Ravens and the Niners win, at least to keep it from being an all Northeast media lovefest.

That said, the Patriots will win the superbowl.

p40tiger on January 22, 2012 at 2:21 PM

The Va-Giants are going to get pounded</em>.

birdhurd on January 22, 2012 at 2:22 PM

49ERS!!!

it’s supposed to be a bit messy, so we’ll see, atleast we have Akers.

49ERS!!!

John Kettlewell on January 22, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Giants by a touchdown, Ravens by a field goal. Giants win in SB.

riddick on January 22, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Go Niners!

Rovin on January 22, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Been meaning to ask you a question about that game last week-I was out for a bit and didn’t see the entire first half (good thing for me!), but my brother later told me about some sort of “bad call” in a play involving Marques Colston of the Saints. It couldn’t have been a penalty against him, as the Saints finished the game with 0 penalties (which in itself is amazing). Did he make a catch that was ruled not a catch, or something? Or is my brother imagining things?

Del Dolemonte on January 22, 2012 at 2:31 PM

I don’t care, but I’m going to watch.
My Lions had no cornerbacks this year, but it’s difficult to fill all the holes from a team that went 0-16 after JugEars was elected.

KOOLAID2 on January 22, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Let’s go Ravens!!!

Fezzik on January 22, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Nacho and beer run…….quickly!

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Since the Lions suffered so many injuries in the secondary and they aren’t 16-0 going to the SB as the forgone conclusion to winning it all, I’m picking defense to win today.

Baltimore-24, New England-17

San Francisco-42, New York-10

NotCoach on January 22, 2012 at 3:01 PM

PAPPY NFL PRAYER OF THE WEEK:

Dear God please help the Cheesy Macaroni Libs from the Bay State beat the Purple Crows from the other Bay State.

….and those yicky Amazons from the Big Bloomberg Apple can you help them lose to the pagans from Sodom and Gommorah redux?

Amen.

PappyD61 on January 22, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Steven Tyler belting out national anthem!!

The dude still rocks!!

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:04 PM

and God……

…..P.S.

please ignore the size of Tom Brady’s ego and pride and let the Patriots win.

Amen again.

PappyD61 on January 22, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Go Pats, hope for a clean game.

PaleoRider on January 22, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I couldn’t bring myself to listen to Tyler do the anthem. How bad was it?

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:06 PM

I couldn’t bring myself to listen to Tyler do the anthem. How bad was it?

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Acapella – and he did great!

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Steven Tyler belting out national anthem!!

The dude still rocks!!

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Ok, I’ll admit to being surprised.

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Put down the drugs. My ears are still bleeding. That was one of the worst anthems ever…EVER!

NotCoach on January 22, 2012 at 3:10 PM

two three-and-outs!!

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Put down the drugs. My ears are still bleeding. That was one of the worst anthems ever…EVER!

NotCoach on January 22, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Another country heard from. The reason I didn’t listen was because he doesn’t strike me as having the voice to nail that particular song. Maybe I’ll watch a clip later.

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Put down the drugs. My ears are still bleeding. That was one of the worst anthems ever…EVER!

NotCoach on January 22, 2012 at 3:10 PM

lmao….c’mon coach, he’s 70 and remebered all the words!!

He was even on key!

You’re tough!!

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:14 PM

I don’t follow the Pats very close. Didn’t Welker used to return punts?

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:17 PM

So many people picking the Giants. That worries me. The Giants usually thrive in situations that no one gives them a prayer in.

BTW, I wonder what Plaxico Burress is doing today. Signing with the Jets, what a career move.

TheLastBrainLeft on January 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

I’m taking the Pats over the Ravens. Not sure why, just a feeling. Something about Flacco that makes me cringe.

TheLastBrainLeft on January 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Like the hot teams today: Patriots(-7), Giants(+2 1/2).

TouchdownBuddha on January 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

lmao….c’mon coach, he’s 70 and remebered all the words!!
Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Well…most of them, anyway. O’er is not O and the like. It was better than most of the ‘look at me and how my voice can shake rattle and roll’ anthems we usually get.

p40tiger on January 22, 2012 at 3:21 PM

I would love nothing better than to see the Harbaugh brothers in the Super Bowl. Talk about historic!

That being said, I think this game will come down to the last possession. I just hope and pray it’s the Ravens with control of the ball.

The 2nd game will be diferent. I think SF will dominate the Giants and win handily.

OH and Steven Tyler? Really? For crying out loud, that was bad!

JohnnyD on January 22, 2012 at 3:21 PM

I and my 6 guests agree with notcoach. Awful. And I am a huge aerosmith fan!

FLconservative on January 22, 2012 at 3:22 PM

We appear to have a defense today… go Pats…

unaffiliated on January 22, 2012 at 3:22 PM

TouchdownBuddha on January 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Yep. Would’ve liked it better at NY +3 1/2. Don’t know what the local books here had it at.

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:23 PM

So many people picking the Giants. That worries me. The Giants usually thrive in situations that no one gives them a prayer in.

BTW, I wonder what Plaxico Burress is doing today. Signing with the Jets, what a career move.

TheLastBrainLeft on January 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

I don’t understand it either. This is a team that tripped into the playoffs. Just because they beat a Packer team that thought their SB appearance was a forgone conclusion does not suddenly make them a super star team. Any team in the NFL can beat any other team on any given week. Especially when the team you beat played like the game was just a formality.

NotCoach on January 22, 2012 at 3:23 PM

BTW, I wonder what Plaxico Burress is doing today. Signing with the Jets, what a career move.

TheLastBrainLeft on January 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

He was in jail and the G’s did not resign him so he went with the jets to stay in NY. I don’t think he is coming back.

FLconservative on January 22, 2012 at 3:26 PM

3-0

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Slam dunk, Leonard! And one! *oops, wrong game*

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:29 PM

WTF ravens?!

FLconservative on January 22, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Pats D lookin good.
Take it down, get seven is the Pats pattern.

PaleoRider on January 22, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Pick!

predator on January 22, 2012 at 3:37 PM

NotCoach on January 22, 2012 at 3:23 PM

The Giants have the intangible, namely their Head Coach.

Del Dolemonte on January 22, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Both defenses holding offenses to 3.

Tim_CA on January 22, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Pats run game is better than the rep, they will run 35-40% of plays.
Dominating LoS right now, both sides of ball. Rice a non issue thus far.

PaleoRider on January 22, 2012 at 4:00 PM

OH and Steven Tyler? Really? For crying out loud, that was bad!

JohnnyD on January 22, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Roseanne wasn’t available?

Del Dolemonte on January 22, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Nice catch and run by Bolton.

predator on January 22, 2012 at 4:03 PM

cane_loader on January 22, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Then learn how to play in the daylight on another’s field.

jb34461 on January 22, 2012 at 4:04 PM

EPIC FACE MASK

Purple crows playing dirty…….as usual.

PappyD61 on January 22, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Pats don’t like the spot.

predator on January 22, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Del Dolemonte on January 22, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Can’t remember off the top of my head Del.

Good ballgame here. Pats running game, impressive.

Rovin on January 22, 2012 at 4:11 PM

So who are you Steelers fans rooting for in the AFC game?

The Ravens are your big rival. And most of you seem to hate the Pats. So I’m curious which is the lesser evil for you. :)

WannabeAnglican on January 22, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Wow what’s up with the NFL and their obsession with 65 year old burned-out rock stars? Jeez… Even my dogs started crying.

Keemo on January 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Tim_CA thought it was great. Everybody else hated it. Me? I couldn’t watch.

predator on January 22, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Pats establish the run a little and then work Gronk, Hernandez, and Welker could lead to a long day for the Cravens.

Not that I’m happy about it. I don’t like either team.

predator on January 22, 2012 at 4:19 PM

They’re going for the youth crowd eyeballs at the Super Bowl. Madonna is only 55!

jb34461 on January 22, 2012 at 4:19 PM

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