San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
Colin Kaepernick is playing just as well as some expected but above the expectations of most. Maybe the people who doubted him should just talk to the Vikings, who he showed flashes of brilliance against in the preseason and Minnesota was fortunate enough to not have to play during the regular season. The Niners defense has been playing at their utmost potential and they are primed to go where they would have gone last year had it not been for some inopportune Kyle Williams fumbles.
Matt Ryan finally has the playoff monkey off his back, and this is where it stops. Michael Turner is churning like he has yet to this season and Ryan showed the side that gave him his nickname “Matty Ice” by driving them down the field in the waning seconds of the game in order to set up a Matt Bryant field goal attempt that went through the uprights propelling them into this week’s Conference Championship match-up. To be honest I think the Seahawks would have given the 49ers a better game. Final score prediction: 33-23 49ers over Falcons.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
As the whole NFL-world knows Ray Lewis has claimed he is retiring at the end of this season. Cue stories such as this billboard. Apparently not only are Patriots fans extremely confident, they are malicious. Baltimore has had their ups and downs, some really low downs. Ray Rice is one of the most dependable running backs playing today and Joe Flacco has been improving his accuracy on his down-field tosses to his top three receivers Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. The defense has been playing just well enough to take them this far.
Tom Brady is in familiar territory, the AFC Championship game. Tom Brady is technically 5-1 in AFC Championship games, although Drew Bledsoe did take over for him and ensure Brady a chance at his first Superbowl victory. Nonetheless Tom has a great record in AFC Championship games, and also fares pretty well against Baltimore. He is 4-1 and his only loss has come during the playoffs. That is not exactly a ringing endorsement for New England, but even with the loss of Rob Gronkowski (again) they simply have too many weapons for Baltimore to stop. They have a stable of running backs that any team should be jealous of. I predict a close victory for the Pats, 24-20.