After a perfect week last week, my record improved to 7-1 for the post-season. There are only two games this weekend, but both games will be very, very good…

Sunday, 3:00 PM: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-7.5)
Sunday, 6:30 PM: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5)

Ray's Last Stand??--AP Photo

 AFC Championship
 
A lot of people are misjudging this game.
 
There’s no doubt that the Ravens struggled against the Houston Texans last week. The Texan defense played extrodinarily well, sacking Joe Flacco five times and holding Ray Rice to just 61 yards on the ground, (3.0 YPC). However, the Ravens were able to pressure TJ Yates and force turnovers. They’ll have more difficulty this week with Tom Brady. Brady played exceptionally well against the Broncos, tossing six touchdown passes, three to All-Pro tight end, Rob Gronkowski. The Bronco defense won’t exactly garner any comparisons to the 2001 Ravens, but they aren’t a terrible defense, either. However, the 2011 version of the Ravens is much closer to the 2001 version rather than the Bronco version. The Ravens defense ranked third in total defense this season and finished third in sacks. The Ravens have to apply pressure to Tom Brady if they want to have any shot in this game.
 
Statistically, the Patriots had the second worst defense in the NFL. They gave up the second most passing yards per game and were constantly beaten on the deep throw. The Patriot offense put the Patriot defense in a good spot last week, jumping out to a huge first quarter lead. When a Tim Tebow team is down by 28 points in the first half, they aren’t coming back. This enables the defense to just tee off on the quarterback. The Ravens defense will keep the Patriot offense in check.
 
I’m not sold on the Patriots. One bad defensive performance can and will end their season. The Patriot offense isn’t as unstoppable everyone makes them out to be. The 2007 Giants laid out the blueprint to beat New England–pressure Brady and good things will happen. The Ravens have elite pass rushers in Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata that will pressure Brady.
 
The Ravens can control and stop the offense by simply keeping them off the field. The Ravens have one of the best running backs in the league in Ray Rice who look for him to be deployed every and often. When Rice has received 20 or more carries, the Ravens were 9-0. Expect a lot of Rice, early and often.
 
Finally, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are nearly the end of their careers. And this may be their last opportunity to reach–and win the Super Bowl. This Raven team beat the Steelers twice and have the personnel to slow down the Pats offense. I picked the Ravens to win the Super Bowl before this whole thing started and I’m sticking with them.
 
Ravens 23
Patriots 21
 
The Pick: Baltimore Ravens
 
NFC Championship
 
I’ve written at length about this game. I don’t like the Giants for these reasons and the year-long inconsistent play of the Giants worries me. I think this one will be very close, but the SF defense is too good and the SF offense just doesn’t turn the ball over.
 
San Francisco 23
New York 17
 
The Pick: San Francisco 49ers