Friday, January 18, 2013

Conference Championship Game Picks

I’m going with the 49ers this Sunday. I don’t think the Falcons will run the ball on San Francisco the way they did against Seattle. Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers will not rush for a combined 162 yards. This will put the game in the hands of Matt Ryan who threw two interceptions last week despite zero pass rush from the Seahawks. The 49ers will pressure Ryan and there will be turnovers. On defense last week the Falcons looked good in the first half but completely gassed in the second. San Francisco with Kaepernick, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore are just too much for Atlanta even with its big advantage of playing in a noisy home dome. If Kaepernick starts jittery Harbaugh will sooth him on the sidelines and remind him that in due course the Falcons defense will collapse.

The AFC Championship Game has the potential to be a repeat of the disappointment experienced last year by all Ravens fans when Lee Evans failed to secure the winning grab in the end zone.

The soulless Belichik Patriots machine rumbles on year after year. Gronkowski’s absence will hurt. But Belichik’s football philosophy is that players have no spiritual dimension; they’re just replaceable parts. Running backs are a dime a dozen; so you have a new starter every year. On defense you trade away a Mike Vrabel, a Tedy Bruschi retires. No worries. You fish a Rob Ninkovich out of the free agent market. Even when your matinee idol quarterback goes down with a season-ending knee injury Week 1 you just slot in a Matt Cassel, who never really played in college, and he throws for nearly 3,700 yards, over 20 touchdowns and wins 10 games. Football is a product extruded from an industrial press. This is what the baleful Belichik represents. That’s why I'm going with the Ravens and Ray Lewis. Because beneath the suffocating weight of the corporate Leviathan we live day to day not for the bright lights and bags of Doritos but for a little taste of the heroic.

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