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Championship Sunday (Game Previews)
Topic Started: Jan 18 2012, 07:52 PM (535 Views)
TheCleaver
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(2) BALTIMORE RAVENS @ (1) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Gillette Stadium

The AFC Championship will be decided in Foxborough as tough defense matches up against powerful offense with the Ravens facing up to the Patriots. In a tight contest against the Texans last week, Baltimore were kept in the contest by their strong defense that allowed Joe Flacco do the work on offense. Ray Rice was blocked out of it by Houston and Rice may well find himself in a similar situation this week but not through his own inability but of the ability and opportunity presented to the Ravens in the passing game against a weak secondary. Through this route the Ravens will likely focus and will need a similar performance from Anquan Boldin or caught a touchdown pass against the Texans. Given the Patriots' problems at rushing the football and their great prowess at passing it means that the Ravens are likely to know what to expect but doing it on the night against a QB of Tom Brady's calibre is easier said than done. The Ravens have one of the best pass rush units in the league with the likes of Terrell Suggs giving all they've got with a superbowl appearance on the line. When Brady is afforded time he has the options to really cause damage, with his 3 TD performance albeit against a weaker Denver Broncos side Rob Gronkowski is such a hard man to mark and it is this that will make the Ravens job even harder as with too much focus and tactics on him then Brady could easily shift to the prolific Wes Welker or the stealthy Deion Branch. On defense and with the likely passing from Flacco then Kyle Arrington will come into play and will need a big night to help halt some of the New England pass defense problems. It is sure to be an intriguing and highly contrasting clash between two teams with very different skill sets on either side of the ball as the Ravens seek a first superbowl appearance since 2000 whereas the Patriots look for their first appearance in the showpiece event since 2008.

(4) NEW YORK GIANTS @ (2) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Candlestick Park

With the two divisional round favorites gone it is an unexpected NFC Championship game and a repeat of a regular-season encounter between the Giants and the 49ers. The Giants caught the number 1 seeds and defending champion Green Bay Packers cold at Lambeau Field last weekend with some great play on offense and defense. Eli Manning had all kinds of time to pick his spots and credit for this must go to the improving offensive line as Manning was rarely touched and when he was he took the sack rather than throw any hasty balls. The two headed rushing monster Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs continued their pounding playoff play but may have to be utilised more as receivers against a stout 49ers defensive line. Hakeem Nicks has been the biggest receiving threat for Big Blue and has taken attention away from Victor Cruz but it is a picture that could change quickly and let us not forget Mario Manningham as Eli Manning certainly didn't with a 4th quarter TD in the divisional game. The Giants aswell has having the momentum have also been showing that the defense can be a strong unit from the line to the secondary. Osi Umenyiora was the biggest thorn in Aaron Rodgers' side and against a lesser QB threat in Alex Smith could well bring even bigger torment. Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle also present the opposing quarterback with problems when throwing. Now to the 49ers and they stunned the Saints in what was one of the wildest finishes to a game that i've ever seen. This stubborn resistance and will to win was predominantly down to the gutsy play of Alex Smith and the brave calls of the coordinators, Smith was a strong presence during two late scoring drives with 1 of them ending in a rushing TD for himself. Smith came up big when he had to and this playoff run and season as a whole is deserved on the back of criticism he was still getting at the outset of the season. As was stated last week Vernon Davis was likely to be the biggest threat and he like Smith also stepped up and had a monster day that was full of emotion after grabbing the dramatic final touchdown. Frank Gore in the rushing game will be used again to move the chains and notch up the yardage as the 49ers look to keep the ball out of Eli Manning's hands. The defense was menacing again against the Saints as Jimmy Graham and Pierre Thomas would testify. The play at the line could cause confusion for the Giants rushing duo and New York will have the main aim of holding onto the football as the Saints were undone more by turnovers and interceptions (despite some of these being self inflicted) than anything else. The 49ers won the regular-season contest by 7 points in week 10 but the Giants had the top passer, rusher and receiver so just who will take their chances in this championship encounter and book a Super Bowl XLVI slot in Indianapolis?
2012 OOH 'Other' Fantasy League Champion - Cleavers Cruzaders

2013 OOH Fantasy NHL Champion - Motor City Wings
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