San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
This is a very difficult game to pick. The Falcons have been maybe the best team at home since Matt Ryan came into the league. However, they faltered in 2010 when the Green Bay Packers blew them out in Atlanta. Sure, that Packers team went on to win the Super Bowl, but San Francisco is an extremely talented team as well, and even more balanced than the Packers were 2 years ago. They rank in the Top 6 in DVOA in both the passing and running game on both sides of the ball. That’s simply amazing. The Falcons are a pretty good team, but nevertheless overrated. They can beat good clubs when they’re at home, but I don’t think they can knock off a team of San Francisco’s caliber. Look for the Falcons’s receiving corps to be the x-factor. If they can make a few big plays, the Falcons should end up in New Orleans for the Super Bowl.
Prediction: San Francisco 16, Atlanta 14
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
It’s always a lot of fun to watch these two teams square off. Their 2 most recent meetings were a very controversial game in Week 3 of this year, won 31-30 by Baltimore, and last year’s AFC Championship, a 23-20 victory for the Pats. New England will be without their otherworldly tight end Rob Gronkowski for the remainder of the post-season after his injury last week, so Bill Belichick will have to make some adjustments to the gameplan. He’ll be up to the task. Baltimore’s cornerbacks have been banged up all year, so it will be interesting to see what Brady chooses to do in the passing game. No matter what, the Patriots will score points. Defensively however, they are susceptible through the air, primarily in the short game. Ray Rice can have a big day if he’s used as much as he should be. Unfortunately for Ravens fans, this doesn’t happen very often.