Nathan’s Notations: Looking at the AFC and NFC championship games

The NFL playoffs are now in full swing, with just four teams remaining. Let’s take a look at the four remaining teams.

In the AFL championship, we’ll see the New England Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens. Last week, the Patriots blew out the Houston Texans, while the Ravens narrowly scraped by the Denver Broncos in a tight overtime game.

The Patriots have looked good so far this playoff season, but suffered a blow last week with an injury to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Losing Gronkowski didn’t hurt the Patriots too much against the Texans, but he is a key player for them. The tight end seems to do it all: He is a great blocker, an excellent receiver and brings a hard-nosed attitude to the field.

New England has had the top-rated offense this season and, while missing Gronkowski will hurt them, they’re still deadly.

The Ravens got a big win last week, knocking off Denver. A lot of people expected the Broncos to be in the Super Bowl, but, thanks to a big defensive play in overtime and a rare mistake by Peyton Manning, the Ravens ended their hopes of a championship.

While they’re not as good as they used to be, the Ravens still have a very strong defense. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots’ high-powered offense matches up with the Ravens’ defense.

In the regular season, the Ravens beat the Pats in Week 3. It was a close game, and the Ravens snuck away with a one-point win. I think this game is going to be a close one as well, as the teams match up well. I’ve thought about this a lot, trying to come up with a prediction, and I’m going to say the Ravens will narrowly beat the Patriots, 31-28.

In the other game, the 49ers will face off against the Atlanta Falcons. Last week, the 49ers surprised a lot of people when they knocked off the Green Bay Packers 45-31. In the other NFC game, the Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks in a tight back-and-forth game that came down to the wire.

The 49ers looked really good against the Packers last week. Going into that game, I didn’t expect them to win, and I thought playing Colin Kapernick as quarterback was a huge mistake. Clearly, I was wrong. Kapernick had a good game and really helped his team in the win.

The ‘Niners also have a good offense, running a read option that has caused problems for defenses this year. Their offense is complex and hard to break down. I think it will cause nightmares for the Falcons come Sunday. They have a strong running back with Frank Gore. Kapernick is a mobile quarterback, and he’s also a great passer. That’s a deadly combination. I think this will be a challenge for Atlanta’s secondary. They’ll not only have to worry about Kapernick’s passing, but will need to be on edge in case he runs.

Atlanta also has a good offensive unit. They’ve got a good quarterback in Matt Ryan and a trio of great pass-catchers in Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Those three players combined for 189 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s game.

While Atlanta has a good offense, I think the 49ers will be too much for them to handle. I’m predicting San Francisco will take a 42-28 win to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl.

No matter who you think is going to win, I’m pretty sure Sunday’s games will both be fun to watch. The four remaining teams are all very talented and will all be playing hard, looking to make it to the Super Bowl.

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Posted by on January 15, 2013. Filed under Columns, Football, Nathan's Notations, Opinion, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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