NFL Conference Championships open thread

posted at 11:01 am on January 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Say what you will about a playoff series that doesn’t include the Pittsburgh Steelers (sob!), but this has already been a near-legendary post-season.  Baltimore’s comeback in a two-overtime victory on the road against the Denver Broncos.  Seattle’s comeback against the Washington Redskins.  Atlanta’s comeback after blowing a 20-point lead over the Seahawks to win in the final minute last week.  We’ve already had a full slate of highlight-reel games.

Now we have two more to go before the big dance in Tampa New Orleans, and both of these battles should be epic.  Last week I went 2-2 to stretch my playoff record to 5-3.  Let’s see if I can stretch that lead:

  • 49ers at Atlanta (3 pm ET, Fox) – Atlanta had been nearly unbeatable at home this season, but then they blew a big lead against Seattle and looked close to making an early exit.  They put together a last-minute, gut-check drive that may well define this team.  However, San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick look unstoppable after rolling over Green Bay last week.  With a defense that’s only 23rd against the pass and 21st against the rush, facing Kaepernick could be an insurmountable task. In contrast, San Francisco has the fourth-best defense in the league against both the rush and the pass, and the fourth-best rushing offense has only improved since Kaepernick took the helm.  It’s tough to pick against the home team that’s coming off a big comeback win, but I have to go with Kaepernick and the Niners, 31-24 over the Falcons.
  • Ravens at Patriots (6:30 pm, CBS) – How did the Ravens come back to beat the Broncos last week? Denver kept letting their safeties get caught in front of the receivers, including the play that sent the game into OT.  The Pats have a big weakness against the pass, ranked 29th in the league, and that may be an opening for Joe Flacco.  However, the Pats won’t let the Ravens offense onto the field that much, with the fourth-ranked passing offense and seventh-ranked rushing offense in the league.  The Ravens D is only middling this year — 17th against the pass, 20th against the rush, and they gave up 398 yards of offense against the Broncos (and 419 against the Colts the week before).  Even with Ray Lewis, this is an old defense, and even without Rob Gronkowski, the New England offense is going to be too much — especially at home.  Patriots win 35-23 against the Ravens, setting up a rematch between the Pats and 49ers in the Super Bowl.


Update: The Super Bowl is in New Orleans, not Tampa, as I wrote earlier.

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Old defense, Ed? Heh. Brady, 67-0 leading at halftime. UNTIL TONIGHT. The number one offense in the league -by 100 points- shut out in the second half. At home.

Old, indeed.

BKeyser on January 20, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Me too!

garry on January 20, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Work it brother! Lookin’ Good!!!!

Laura in Maryland on January 20, 2013 at 11:31 PM

Old defense, Ed? Heh. Brady, 67-0 leading at halftime. UNTIL TONIGHT. The number one offense in the league -by 100 points- shut out in the second half. At home.

Old, indeed.

BKeyser on January 20, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Give him a break, he was just dissecting the crosstabs, LOL!!!!

abobo on January 20, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Jeez, I’ve never had an issue with Ravens fans, but turns out they are really obnoxious after a win. I didn’t really care who won, but they are managing to make a nice win really aggravating to hear about.

goflyers on January 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Belli-up-chuck blended into the crowd with his wussy hoody, couldn’t be located for traditional post-game funeral interview. Shannon Sharpe not happy.

williampeck1958 on January 21, 2013 at 2:45 AM

Atlanta win. Patriot win. Atlanta wins the Super Bowl.


uh-huh . . .

also, Boomer Esiason: “Tom Brady is the best quarterback ev-ah”. – Except for that lame 4th down pass that fell to the turf in the end-zone.
– Also, the tip and interception wasn’t his fault.
– And the botched clock-management at end of first half – clearly not his fault.
– And “spiking” the defender – purely an act of self-defense against those big, strapping defenders.

williampeck1958 on January 21, 2013 at 2:54 AM


Still no Superbowl win since the Patriots got caught cheating….

El_Terrible on January 21, 2013 at 3:01 AM

As soon as Ed and Jim Rome both picked against us, I knew the Ravens were headed to the Super Bowl! Now we are underdogs again….ask Eli, Peyton and Tom how that worked out!! GO RAVENS!!!!

ravensfan on January 21, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Congrats to the Ravens for knocking off both the #1 and #2 seeds-and on the road, no less. Brady looked absolutely horrible. And for the life of me I will never understand why the Patriots didn’t defer until the second half after winning the coin toss, as they have always done in the past.

And congrats also to the 49ers. Just spare me the Brother Bowl BS!

Del Dolemonte on January 21, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Del, it’s gonna be brother bowl infinity for the sports writers and talking heads. Maybe it’ll make them forget Manti what’s his name. The Pats need a qb who’s not afraid to run a little more and a speed rusher on D. The birds went thru the Pats D like men playing boys. The SB should be a real thriller.

Kissmygrits on January 21, 2013 at 9:44 AM

And congrats also to the 49ers. Just spare me the Brother Bowl BS!

Del Dolemonte on January 21, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Sorry, but the Har-Bowl is upon us.

In my mind, this is the best of the possible SB match-ups from Championship Sunday.
Not because of the brothers. But, better players, better teams and better stories. They play to win.
And I say this as a NE fan. They STUNK in the second half.

Jabberwock on January 21, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Yep, that Pats offense sure kept the Ravens defense off the field!

Wait, that’s not what you said?

nukemhill on January 21, 2013 at 10:30 AM

As a die-hard Niner fan, I have to send out a “big thankyou” to the Falcons’ Asante Samuel for getting into David Akers face after he missed the game-tying FG. If you don’t think that little classless display didn’t fire up an already determined 49er defense, you don’t understand motivation. Nice job, Asante. Hope you enjoy watching the SB from your warm couch.

Rovin on January 21, 2013 at 10:44 AM

lets all thank art modell for moving a nfl team to baltimore
and sticking it in the noses

losarkos on January 21, 2013 at 10:55 AM

of the nfl powers

losarkos on January 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM

losarkos on January 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Stick it to the NFL? I don’t know about that.

I have defended the Ravens here and elsewhere and include the players and the management. The hate I get in return is palpable.

My only special expertise was that I traveled from Cleveland to Baltimore on my own business the day he moved the team and listened to the radio. The pain was incredible. Bad for Cleveland but I was really happy for Baltimore and Maryland and the few NFL fans they had there.

As for Mr. Modell’s move, however, I think that you should contact Wikkipedia for a rewrite of the Cleveland Browns Relocation controversy.

IlikedAUH2O on January 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM

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