The 2012 NFL Playoff conference title games are closing in. Some people might be a little shocked they’re going to happen without the Green Bay Packers or New Orleans Saints, but like some of the top experts say – this is why we play the games.
The playoffs have brought excitement and disappointment, but most of all, they’ve brought some of your weekly gamers some cold, hard cash and the confidence to keep things going into the title games.
Here’s a quick preview of the two big NFL playoff games as we get closer and closer to the final game of the year:
Baltimore Ravens (13-4) @ New England Patriots (14-3)
The Ravens march into New England after disposing of the Houston Texans, 20-13, while the Patriots didn’t skip a beat in a 45-10 beat-down of the Denver Broncos.
Ultimately, this is a matchup between an elite offense and an elite defense, although the twist in this game could be the revitialized Patriots’ defense, which completely shutdown the Broncos and actually looked like an elite group, itself.
The Ravens’ defense is very good and should keep it close, but Tom Brady has excellent protection and has way too many effective weapons to be denied. Home field advantage should continue to pay-off, as well.
Patriots 30, Ravens 24
New York Giants (11-7) @ San Francisco 49ers (14-3)
I wasn’t surprised that the Giants beat the Packers, but I was surprised they were so dominant in doing so. If you took away a bad non-fumble call early in the game, the Giants could have easily been leading this game 28-3 at half-time. Ultimately, the final score showed you exactly how big of a gap there was in this game.
Clearly the Giants can go on the road and over-power any team if they can do it to a well-oiled machine like the Packers, but with the 49ers’ defense being arguably better than New York’s, I don’t think it’s a given that they’ll advance to the Super Bowl just yet.
San Francisco poses a much bigger threat in the ground game with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, while the 49ers are also arguably more balanced on offense than Green Bay has been at any time all season. The fact that the 49ers could go toe-to-toe with the explosive Saints suggests they’ll be able to keep up with Eli Manning, too.
Something just tells me the 49ers are a team of destiny a little more than the Giants are, and that their insane balance on both sides of the field will elevate them to the final game of the year.
49ers 27, Giants 23