Baltimore Ravens (+7) at New England Patriots: I have thought about this matchup since the minute the Ravens closed out the Houston Texans on Sunday. To he honest, I've waffled back and forth about which team I feel will win. So instead of throwing around a bevy of stats (as is my wont), I'm just going with a gut instinct here.
I bet Pats coach Bill Belichick is still seething over the first round blowout he suffered at the hands of the Ravens two years ago. The resounding 33-14 win for Baltimore was the first home playoff loss suffered by Belichick as Patriots coach. If you know anything about coach hoodie, you know he has a tendency to internalize his bitterness and then regurgitate it vicariously through his team.
So with all that twisted logic, I say the Pats reach their fifth Super Bowl in eleven seasons.
New England 28 Baltimore 24
New York Giants (+2-1/2) at San Francisco 49ers: Once again, I will eschew any relevant stats pertaining to this matchup. The Giants calmly, collectively and methodically went into Lambeau Field Sunday and dismantled the 15-1 Green Bay Packers 37-20. The day before, in one of the more frantic and electrifying finishes in NFL playoff history, the 49ers scored a last second touchdown (culminating four TDs score by both teams in the final 4:02 of the game) to defeat the red hot New Orleans Saints 36-32.
The way I see it, the Giants have been in playoff mode each of the past three weeks and have that same vibe going as in 2007 when they won three road playoff games en route to defeating the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the 49ers may still be coming off that high that resulted from an exhilarating win over the Saints, so I wouldn't be shocked to see them come out a little flat.
The Giants, in my opinion, are the most balanced team in the playoffs right now and have that aura about them that they know it's their time. You know what? I believe it is, too.
New York 21 San Francisco 17
Straight up: 4-4-0
Against the Spread: 1-7-0