After nailing last Sunday’s slate of action, and whiffing on the Saturday games, Wes and Danny are back to pick again. The winner in picks last week was Garr, who only picked the Denver-Baltimore game incorrectly.
49ers at Falcons:
Danny: SF 28 ATL 20 – I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about anything than I was last week about Colin Kaepernick and the Niners. I change my tune this week. After watching Russell Wilson run all over Atlanta last week, I expect the even more athletic Kaepernick to be able to run with ease against this Atlanta defense. I also expect the 49ers defense to curtail Michael Turner this week, putting a lot of pressure on Matt Ryan to rise to the occasion. I think he plays well, but falls short.
Wes: SF 34 ATL 24- Colin Kaepernick absolutely wowed me in his first-ever playoff start last weekend against the Packers. I picked the Packers to win that game based mainly on the fact that Kaepernick was a playoff rookie who would probably show some jitters while veteran Aaron Rodgers dominated the game. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Kaepernick threw for more yards than Rodgers and also added 181 rushing yards en route to his four total touchdowns. Yes, the Packers’ defense isn’t really all that good, but that’s still really impressive for a first-ever playoff start. Although the Falcons finally got over the hump of winning a playoff game in the Matt Ryan era, I don’t think they can get past the 49ers. Atlanta’s defense is certainly better than Green Bay’s, but it will not be good enough on Sunday to stop Kaepernick, who should once again play well.
Garr: SF 34 ATL 31 – Colin Kaepernick more than just showed up against the Packers. He threw for 263 and two TDs, ran for 181 and two TDs, and only threw one pick. Now can he do it again? Or even half of it? I think. Atlanta looked great in the first of their game against Seattle, but completely collapsed in the second half. If it wasn’t for a solid kick return, and two poor pass defensive plays from Seattle, then they wouldn’t be here. But, like the Ravens, they are, and they CAN win this game. Home field will help the Falcons, but that won’t phase the 49ers too much. It will be close, but the 49ers will go to the Super Bowl.
Ravens at Patriots
Danny: NE 31 BAL 20 – The Ravens beat the Broncos last week off the big play. Joe Flacco throws probably the best deep ball in the game, and Denver had no answer for it. I expect the Patriots to be able to defend that. New England’s defense is obviously nowhere near as strong as the offense, but when it comes to bending, but not breaking, they are as good a unit as you’ll find in the league. That defense also forced 50 turnovers this season, tied with Chicago for most in the league. The Patriots will certainly miss Gronkowski, but Tom Brady will find a way to win.
Wes: NE 31 BAL 23- I’m tired of seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but my gut tells me they’ll be making yet another appearance this season. I realize Rob Gronkowski, arguably the Patriots’ most dangerous receiving threat, will not be playing due to injury, but the Pats have so many weapons on offense that I don’t think it will matter all that much. New England played without him for a few games during the regular season and still seemed to get by reasonably well. In a rematch of last year’s down-to-the-wire AFC Championship Game, I’m picking the same victor, but I’ll be rooting hard for Baltimore to somehow find a way to win.
Garr: NE 28 BAL 24 – Like last year, this one is going to be very close. One or two big plays will make the difference. Let’s look at the Baltimore side first. They’re looking for revenge, they have the momentum of Ray Lewis’s retirement tour going into this game, and if they can beat Manning, then they have a shot beating Brady. On the other hand, are the Ravens even in this spot if the Broncos were able to play defense on that final drive? Probably not. But they’re here, and they CAN win this game. On the Patriots side, there’s nothing surprising. They’re a talented team who beat the Texans (again) and they know and have what it takes to win big games. The bad news is they won’t have Rob Gronkowski. We’ll see how much of a factor that plays into Sunday’s game. Long story short, the Pats will pull out a close one to go the Super Bowl for the 6th time in the Brady era.