The Old Man’s Picks – Conference Finals

The road to the Super Bowl is almost finished. Last weekend showed the Old Man one thing, the 49ers have a solid quarterback in Alex Smith. He conducted a final scoring drive that was reminiscent of “The Drive” by John Elway. The Giants ended the Packers dream of back-to-back titles, “Tebow Time” expired, and the Texans beat themselves to give the Ravens a trip to Gillette stadium. How will the teams fare this weekend? Read on to find out!

Baltimore Ravens (+7.5) at New England Patriots – Sunday 3:00 PM Kickoff

Tom Brady is chasing his fourth Super Bowl victory.

As mentioned in the opening, the Ravens are lucky to be playing this weekend. I think they should consider putting Jacoby Jones in the Ravens hall of fame should they win this years title. Now the Ravens are headed to play the Pats and, believe it or not, they have a very good chance of beating them.

Here’s why. During the regular season, the Patriots did not defeat a single team with a winning record (they did beat five teams that ended up at .500) nor did they beat a team that made it to the playoffs. In fact, two of their three losses came to teams that did qualify for the post-season, those teams being the Steelers and the Giants.

On the other side, the Ravens won six games against teams that had winning records and beat three teams that qualified for the post-season, those teams being the Steelers (twice), the Texans, and the 49ers. What’s interesting is that the Ravens lost to the Jaguars, Seahawks, Titans, and Chargers. This tells me the Ravens have a tendency to play to the level of their competition, be it up or down.

This game will boil down to defense, meaning can the Ravens put a stop to all of the offensive weapons that Brady has at his disposal. The only real defenses the Pats have played this season was the Steelers (Pats put up 17) and the Giants (Pats put up 20.) The Pats D was one of the worst in the regular season, but they’ve been the best in the post-season. Now mind you, they’ve only played one game and that was against a pretty predictable Denver offense.

This is a bit of a tough one to call, and I may be going out on a limb, but I’m taking the Ravens to win this one on the road. I think their D will get after Brady and history shows that when you get after Brady, you can get him to make mistakes. Ravens win a tight one 24 to 20.

New York Giants (+2.5) at San Francisco 49ers – Sunday 6:30 PM Kickoff

Alex Smith and the Niners put up enough offense to beat out the Saints last week.

The New York Giants are this year’s Green Bay Packers. They’ve gotten hot at the right time, just like the Packers did last season. Now they must travel across country to play a team that I feel is just as complete as the Giants.

In my mind, these are the two most complete teams left in the playoffs. Last weekend, the Giants had the luxury of playing the Packers after they decided to be like the Indianapolis Colts a few years ago. Green Bay rested their starters in week 17 and then had the bye week. Note to coaches, I don’t think that much rest is good for a team. I know, I know, they practiced during this time frame, but practice is not the same as a game, especially during playoff time.

This week the Giants face a team that didn’t rest outside of their bye week and a team that defeated what I thought was the best team left in the New Orleans Saints. I give the offensive edge to the Giants, but this game is going to boil down to defense, meaning which one will make the most stops. Green Bay didn’t get to Eli much last week and they paid the price. That won’t be the case this week as the 49ers will make it a point to get up and after the QB. I’m going for an all Harbaugh Super Bowl. The 49ers will edge the Giants 23 to 21.

See you for the Super Bowl pick next!