2012 NFL Conference Championship Picks: Who Dat Gonna Play In New Orleans?
Congratulations are in order. No, not just for the Ravens, Patriots, Falcons and 49ers. NFLSoup’s own Michael Cellars has officially won the mini-pick contest. He entered the divisional weekend up five games, and yours truly needed to sweep to have a shot. He got an unlikely Ravens win right away and Michael paid for his (homer?) pick of the Packers. But, alas, after the 2-0 start to the weekend, the Falcons and the Patriots were who we thought they were. Both men ended the weekend 2-2 and Michael ended a champion.
In the spirit of good sportsmanship and expertise, we will play this out and pick the final three games. After picking both games, Michael and myself will give our previews of the Super Bowl based on their picks. We always act like we’re right anyway, so why should this be any different?
So here we go, on the last stop on the road to the Big Easy:
TOM: I watched 2 or 3 of the Falcons exhibition games because, basically I have no friends and I’m afraid of the August sun. I’m kidding – I watched the games at night. But I still have no friends. My recurring thoughts were “Gosh, the Falcons can bring it.” I searched for Matt Ryan on the ADP charts in fantasy, I grabbed Roddy White at wide receiver and I thought they would roll. They did, of course, but it wasn’t in the run-up-the-score, stomp-on-your-neck ways of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They can score in a flash and that building is loud. The Niners play great defense, but I can’t shake the feeling that Colin Kaepernick has to struggle at some point. I think the monkey is off their back, and every Saints fan will cringe when Matty Ice takes the Superdome turf to win a ring. FALCONS, 28-19.
MICHAEL: I was confident with picking the Falcons last week and, though they didn’t disappoint, they gave me reason to have little confidence in them for this game. After blowing two different 20-point leads to the Seahawks, and then miraculously coming back to win, I’m rolling with the 49ers to be this year’s NFC Champions. Their defense is as physical as they can come, they don’t make many mistakes, and they take advantage of opposing offense’s mistakes. Furthermore, I believe Colin Kaepernick will play good, not great, in this game, given that the Falcons have an excellent secondary. The game’s going to come down to the Falcons ability to stop Kaepernick and Frank Gore, and I just don’t see that happening for 60 minutes. 49ERS, 27-17.
TOM: I’m a Jets fan. The Jets (and Mo Lewis) created Tom Brady and watching the Patriots win in the postseason turns my stomach. But I will let them win one more ring. If. Only if Tom and Bill run off into the sunset on top. We’ve all had it. But like fleas, bedbugs, or the flu virus, we just can’t get rid of them. I haven’t given the Ravens their due, and they battled hard to come back last week. But they’re spent. At least there’s more oxygen in Massachusetts. But there’s also more Tom Brady. And if you make a mistake (and Joe Flacco will) the Patriots will bury you. Go home, Ray. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. PATRIOTS, 35-14.
MICHAEL: It’s been an absolute pleasure watching Ray Lewis’ career from when I was in elementary school to college now; I would like to see Lewis get another ring and ride off into the sunset. However, I would love to see Tom Brady get No. 4 and match Joe Montana (and Terry Bradshaw). I’m a huge Brady fan and I think he’s the greatest of all time. Once again, he’ll make the plays when it matters because nothing ever phases him and he almost never loses at home. I’ve learned to never bet against Brady and Bill Belichick (unless they’re playing the Giants in the Super Bowl) and I won’t do it here. Brady is too good and somehow, with great or average receivers, always finds the mismatch. PATRIOTS, 34-23.
Welcome to the adult table, Matt Ryan. Tom Brady will take the finer cuts of turkey and leave you with whatever is left. He don’t care if you like the white meat or the dark meat. And you’re getting the dry stuffing, not the moist stuff. And it’s that cranberry from a can, my friend. You won’t enjoy the homemade stuff that is so pleasing to Mr. Brady’s palette. The Patriots light up the Falcons, Brady throws for 450 yards and only showers because the champagne stings him in the cleft of his chin. PATRIOTS, 48-24.
Well, it’s finally here for Belichick and Brady—they don’t have to play the Giants in the Super Bowl. By that alone they should win, but I’ll elaborate a bit further. For starters, more times than not, when the Patriots lose to a team earlier in the year, and then face them again in the playoffs, they win. I’m sure Belichick will have a gameplan in place to stop Kaepernick—remember in the 2004 playoffs when Belichick’s gameplan held the high-powered Colts offense led by Peyton Manning to just three points? He’s finally got a defense that is athletic, fast and physical like those defenses during their dynasty run. On the other side, no one works harder than Brady, so he’ll be dissecting how to tear up the 49ers defense and then he’ll go out on the field and do it. It’s been eight years since Belichick, Brady and the Patriots last won a Super Bowl. Now, the wait is over. PATRIOTS, 37-24.