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.