Sunday, Jan. 20
49ers vs. Falcons, 3 p.m. ET, FOX - NFC Championship Game
Ravens vs. , 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS - AFC Championship Game
Ranking the Playoff Games
1. Last week, I said that the Ravens were "the worst remaining team in the postseason." They responded with a stunning win over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. While I still think Baltimore was very fortunate that a lot of things fell their way in that game (I mean, come on, how often does a defense play a situation as poorly as Denver did at the end of the fourth quarter?), they deserve credit for continuing to throw the deep ball when the Broncos couldn't defend it, and they came up with enough clutch defensive plays.
Now, the Ravens have just as tough of a challenge in front of them: the New England Patriots. The Patriots are coming off of a blowout victory over the Texans for the second time this season, and their offense and defense looked impressive as usual. The special teams coverage could use a little work, perhaps.
While the Patriots are dominant on offense and I still feel Baltimore is an inferior team, all bets are off now that both teams have found ways to make it to the AFC Championship for the second consecutive season. Last year's game was an absolute nail-biter. With the Patriots up 23-20 with under two minutes to go, a receiver dropped the go-ahead touchdown pass. Then, their former kicker missed a 32-yard field goal that would've likely sent the game to overtime.
This game has a little more hype than the NFC game because it is a re-match. Will the legend of Ray Lewis' final season continue to grow, or will Bill Belichick be the person who finally puts Baltimore away?
2. What a job by Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers against the Green Bay Packers. I was worried for San Francisco when Kaepernick began the game with a pick six, but the young quarterback set a record for rushing yards by a quarterback and made it impossible for the Packers to defend the read-option with success.
The Falcons took care of business against the Seahawks, but it certainly wasn't easy. The Seahawks were on the verge of securing an epic comeback, but the Falcons drove down the field to set up a game-winning field goal within the final 30 seconds. Although I'm not surprised that the Falcons were able to get the job done, it's reassuring to see them put on that type of performance in the postseason under Matt Ryan.
I think Seattle vs. San Francisco would have made for a more interesting matchup due to the division rivalry, but I'm certainly not going to complain about the top two seeds in the NFC squaring off for the first time all season. In fact, these two teams didn't even meet last season, so this matchup should seem quite fresh. If that doesn't make it compelling enough for fans to watch, then I don't know what will.