Sunday, January 22, 2012

JMR's Game Blog - 2012 AFC and NFC Championships

The games this weekend are shaping up to be some of the most interesting NFC and AFC Championships we've seen in years.  Whether it's Joe Flacco vs. Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard vs. Tom Brady's knee, the general lunacy of Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, a possible rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Giants or the sudden emergence of Alex Smith as a football hero, the subplots this weekend are mind boggling.

Patriots' Secret Weapons.
All this could only mean one thing - the return of the JMR Game Blog.  The rules are easy.  The kids and I pick the games.  Only I know the line, only they know the reasoning behind their answers.  Let's get started.

49ERS (-3)

G:  49ers.  They crushed the team they faced to get there"  His response was reminiscent of his thought that his basketball team "crushed" his last team, even though his team lost by 8 points.

"The Saints?" I ask him.  When he agrees with me that the 49ers killed the Saints, I was stuck wondering who was watching the game with me last weekend.

S: 49ers.  "Because they beat the Saints.  And the Saints are my FAVORITE team."  She emphasizes "favorite" because she loves wearing the Drew Brees jersey we got her a couple of months ago when we were in New Orleans.  I don't think she could name a single player in football other than her brothers and Drew Brees.

JMR:  Giants.  This Giants team is reminiscent of the 2007-08 Giants team.  They played a great game to just get into the playoffs (a 24-14 trouncing of the Cowboys), which reminded me of Week 17 against the undefeated Patriots, which required a startling comeback (and a great bomb to Randy Moss for Brady's 50th Touchdown Pass) to win that game 38-35.  I think the pass rush will relentlessly pursue a green Alex Smith leading to at least three takeaways. 

And the 49ers secondary was exposed in the Fourth Quarter against the Saints.  While the defense forced 5 turnovers, and won the turnover battle 5-2, the Niners required heroics from Smith to pull the game out.  If the Giants can hold onto the ball, this team and this defense can be beaten.  Giants 27-16.

Ravens (+9)

S:  Patriots.  "Because I have the Patriots shirt, too.  And because I want them to win today!!"  She's so excited.  Maybe she'll be the rabid Patriots fan of the family.  Now if only I could stop her from using sharpies on the dry erase boards...
G.  Patriots.  "You know I want the Patriots to win, Dad."  When I ask him why he answers me "because they have Tom Brady and Gronkowski and Gronkowski scored 3 touchdowns last week!"  When you're team is one of the teams left in the Playoffs, like this year, everyone gets excited.

JMR.  Patriots.  I think this line is too high.  But one of the first rules of football wagering is to never take the points unless you think your team can win the game outright.  Believe it or not, I think the the 2010 Divisional round game where the Ravens came to Foxboro and destroyed the Patriots was the best thing that could have happened for this Patriots team.  There is a score to settle, even though everyone believes that the Patriots will walk all over the Ravens.  Bill Belichick thrives in those kinds of situations. 

Further, I think the Patriots will key on Ray Rice (when he was more of an unknown quantity in 2010) and make Flacco beat the Patriots with his arm.  I just don't see that happening. 

Oh yeah, we have Gronkowski and Hernandez, and they don't.  Patriots 34 Ravens 24.

photograph courtesy of zimbio.

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