If you've listened to our recent podcast then you already know who we picked. But just in case you wanted to see it again here are our Super Bowl picks including MVPs and a couple of prop bets and the final score of Super Bowl XLVII.
Here goes the run down for the Championship Sunday.
1997 and Zero
1997. That was the last year that two road teams won on Championship Sunday. It was fitting considering the Ravens and 49ers are both coached by John and Jim Harbaugh respectively, and their teams have similar playing styles. Coincidentally, both the Ravens and 49ers held both the Patriots and Falcons to zero points the second half of their games. This should be a very interesting match up in a couple of weeks.
Kaepernick shines again
So it’s clear that Jim Harbaugh knew what he was doing he started Colin Kaepernick back in Week 10. Down 17 – 0 to the Falcons, Kaepernick was able to rally the 49ers to victory. Coming into the 2012 season one of the 49ers perceived weaknesses was their inability to rally from large deficits. After yesterday it doesn’t appear as if that is a weakness for the 49ers any longer. Even Alex Smith supporters can’t argue that Smith has shown a fraction of the ability to rally the 49ers from large deficits the way Colin Kaepernick has.
Joe Flacco will cash out
This Ravens run to the Super Bowl is a script Hollywood couldn’t even make into a plausible movie. But Joe Flacco and his agent couldn’t have timed the run any better. Flacco’s stellar play in the AFC title game and recent playoff success puts him in line to be paid as one of the games top QBs. Obviously, the Ravens would love to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore, but the Ravens will be backing up the Brinks truck to Joe Flacco’s home no matter what the outcome of Super Bowl XLVII is.
Atlanta still comes up small, again
Atlanta has a lot of questions to answer in the off season. Starting with: ‘Is this team mentally tough enough to win a title?’ The Falcons blew a big lead for the second straight game and Atlanta couldn’t come up with the big plays to win the game in their own building. In the end, Atlanta did win a playoff game, but it appears that they still have some strides to make before they become a legitimate championship contender.
Get ready for the hype
I understand the logistics that goes into a Super Bowl from a network coverage and media stand point but I am still not a fan of the 2 week layoff. The problem with today’s media and news cycle is that stories that would be somewhat interesting to hear about will be beaten to death and retread many times over before the ball is kicked off on Sunday February 3rd. And don’t get me started on media day. With the advent of Social Media we hardly need to have a day where all kinds of non sports related media come and ask football players unrelated sports questions. We already have Twitter for that.
Frank picks against the spread for Championship Sunday
Falcons(+4.5) over 49ers
Certainly when you look at this game you have to factor in the 49ers stellar rushing attack led by phenom Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore vs an Atlanta that for intents and purposes barely escaped against Seattle. The 49ers look like an invincible team and the Falcons look like a middling one. So why do I like the Falcons this week? Two reasons. One, Atlanta has a tremendous home field advantage in the Georgia Dome. Second, Karma. Atlanta has been the little team that could all year despite the nay sayers (myself included) doubting this teams resolve. This team doesn't give up and knows how to fight to the end and even against a superior 49ers team on paper it's enough to earn them a trip to Super Bowl XLVII.
Patriots over Ravens(+9.5)
It's a rematch of last years AFC Championship game and the two teams have genuine disdain for each other. I'm sure the Ravens believe they lost last year's AFC Championship game more than the Patriots won it, but New England is not going to apologize for being the AFC representative in last year's Super Bowl. Once again on paper I like the Patriots to get close to covering the 9.5 points they are getting, but something tells me this game will be a lot like last year. Nip and tuck game for 3 quarters with a couple of big plays (or mistakes) deciding the outcome in the 4th quarter. I do love the inspired football the Ravens have been playing behind the Ray Lewis farewell tour but I think Brady makes the difference in a tight game and proves why he is the all time leader in playoff wins among Quarterbacks. Patriots by a field goal.
Last Week: 2 - 2 (0 - 4 vs spread)
2012 Playoffs: 6 - 2 (2 - 6 vs spread)
2012 Season: 44 - 24 (34 - 33 - 1 vs spread)
The Ravens overcame 2 return touchdowns from Trindon Holliday and 3 TDs from Peyton Manning to win an instant classic double overtime thriller. This week the Ravens travel to New England to take on the Patriots in the AFC Title game for the second straight season. Of course, the Ravens will be able play the underdog role again this week as Vegas has already installed New England as 9 pt favorites. Last year Joe Flacco played well enough for the Ravens to win in Gillette Stadium and he will need more of the same next Sunday against Tom Brady and a versatile Patriot offense.
Kaepernick strides into the NFC Title Game
181 yards. Colin Kaepernick galloped to an NFL record for rushing yards in a game for QBs against the Packers on Saturday night. The 49ers as a team rushed for 325 yards on the ground in what felt like an extension of a BCS Bowl game. The Packers offense was not much better than their defense as they only scored 17 points offensively (7 came on pick six by Sam Shields) and managed only 3 points in the second half. Heading into Atlanta the 49ers are primed to for an old school NFC West showdown that should be a classic.
Matty Ice times 2
Matt Bryant is the real Matty Ice, at least this week anyway. The Falcons survived what would have been an epic meltdown by escaping with a last second FG against the Seahawks. Atlanta controlled the game until the 4th quarter when they inexplicably stopped running the ball and Matt Ryan started making some of his worst decisions and throws of the season. Seattle almost pulled off the miracle comeback if they hadn’t started playing prevent defense in the games final 30 seconds which allowed Atlanta to get in FG range in just 2 plays. To top it off Pete Carroll gave Matt Bryant a mulligan by calling timeout before the final kick which Bryant actually missed. Looking ahead to next week Atlanta really needs to find a way to slow down Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers ground attack otherwise they won’t be close enough for any late game heroics.
Patriots bludgeon Texans again
So it started off great for the Texans, but after having to settle for a FG after Danieal Manning’s 94 yd opening kickoff return it was all down hill. The Patriots were actually playing without a full deck with Gronkowski and Woodhead both going out early in the first quarter due to injury. But in typical Patriot fashion reserve RB Shane Vereen became the first RB in playoff history to have a rushing TD and 2 receiving touchdowns. Brady was vintage Brady leading the Pats to put up more than 40 points in back to back games against the Texans. Next week the Patriots play host to Baltimore in a rematch that should be one for the ages. Can Brady and Bellichick get their fourth ring together?
Best Playoff Weekend Ever
After a wild card weekend that was barely watchable the divisional playoff round was epic. The Broncos and Ravens game was an instant classic. The 49ers Packers game was the coming out party for Colin Kaepenick and a showcase of the superstar potential he holds. Seattle and Atlanta was classic fall asleep at the wheel choke away a big lead but rally for a miracle finish. All in the fourth quarter no less. Lastly, the Patriots Texans outcome didn’t surprise many but for a half the Texans made it look like they were ready to exact revenge for the 28 point drubbing they suffered a month earlier. Of course, the second half came, reality set in, and the Patriots won but by that time nothing could spoil what we witnessed from 430 pm EST on Saturday until about 8 pm EST on Sunday. Here’s to the Divisional Playoffs and the best weekend of NFL playoff football ever.
Frank picks against the spread for Divisional Round.
Broncos(-10) over Ravens
Broncos have a tremendous advantage playing an emotionally spent Ravens team on a short week. It could be over by halftime.
Packers(+3) over 49ers
When they met in Week 1 the Packers ran the ball 9 times for 18 yards. I don't think they'll pile up a ton of rushing yards on the ground but they will be more balanced in this one. That fact, combined with a few mistakes from Colin Kaepernick will be the difference.
Falcons(-2.5) over Seahawks
Everyone is on the Seahawks bandwagon. But here's a funny thought, Seattle is still not as good on the road as Atlanta is at home. Matty Ice gets his first playoff win.
Patriots over Texans(+9.5)
They'll make it more respectable this time but I still think a healthy Gronkowski (DNP in first match up) will give the Patriots the edge they need against the Texans.
Last Week: 4 - 0 (2 - 2 vs spread)
2012 Playoffs: 4 - 0 (2 - 2 vs spread)
2012 Season: 44 - 24 (34 - 33 - 1 vs spread)
So it’s obvious that RG3 was seriously hurt in Sunday’s playoff loss against the Seahawks. The real question is how long will he be out? RG3 is meeting with world renowned doctor James Andrews and then he will find out the full extent of the damage at some point this week. Overall, I think Mike Shanahan handled the situation quite poorly if only for the fact that not only did he continue play RG3 after he looked so gimpy for most of the second half but also because he drafted Kirk Cousins to be a trusted backup, which he had been when called upon this season. Sadly, for Redskins fans in just 3 hours the whole course of their franchise could be reversed again. This time not for the better.
Russell Wilson Delivers
To add insult to injury Redskin fans had to watch rookie Russell Wilson march up and down the field running the read option the way RG3 did, pre LCL tear, and be an effective scrambler without taking any major hits. Enough pundits have droned about Wilson’s poise in the pocket but the most impressive thing to me is the poise in his head. He never looks overwhelmed and I give the Seahawks more than fighting chance against the Falcons in the divisional round. Seattle’s defense will provide a tough test for Falcons in the GA dome and Marshawn Lynch is a guy you just don’t want to tackle on a regular basis. I thought the Seahawks Achilles heel was their poor play on the road but after 3 straight road victories I don’t know that they aren’t the best team left in the NFC.
Ray’s Last Stand
I don’t know of any players that have been more charismatic and intimidating than Ray Lewis has been in his 17 year career. On Sunday Ray played his last game in front of the home crowd in Baltimore and left victorious. It wasn’t Ray’s best game, but Anquan Boldin looked like the best player on the field hauling in over 140 yards through the air and a touchdown in the second half against Indy. Certainly, it was a great send off for Ray Lewis but next week against Denver will be a very tough game, especially since the Ravens are traveling and playing on a short week. Miracles can happen, but I don’t see the Ray dancing his way off the field when the clock hits all zeros at Invesco Field.
In what was seemed like it was going to be most underwhelming game of Wild Card Weekend, until Joe Webb started for the Vikes against the Pack in the night cap, the Texans survived against a Bengals team that didn’t look playoff worthy. Arian Foster was the star of the game rushing for over 100 yards for the third time in his first 3 playoff starts. The Texans defense held the Bengals offense to only six points and looked somewhat like the dominant unit that helped the Texans win 11 of their first 12 games. Of course, the competition takes a major step up as the Texans take their show on the road to the Gillette Stadium this weekend. The last time they were there the Texans gave up 42 and only scored 14. Matt Schaub will have to play much better because I can guarantee you that Bellichick has a plan to slow down Arian Foster.
Like I stated earlier the biggest mismatch of the weekend had to be the Packers vs the Vikings. After an epic battle that was fought by two heavyweight contenders in Week 17 we were treated to a David vs Goliath match up in the ensuing Wild Card Match up. Unfortunately, on Saturday night in Lambeau, Goliath got the best of David mainly due the fact that Christian Ponder was unable to start (sore elbow) and Joe Webb was given his first start in almost 2 years. The end result was a Packers win and a trip to the Bay face the 49ers next Saturday for Green Bay. Rodgers has that look in his eye he had in the 2010 playoffs and the 49ers would be wise to be wary of that fact. Other the Seahawks I think the Packers are playing the best of all the remaining NFC teams in the field. How ironic would it be to have Seattle face Green Bay in the NFC championship game after their controversial MNF game in Week 3?