With the playoffs reaching the divisional finals and just 2 weeks until the superbowl, Joel Slattery previews this weekends action…
Championship Sunday is fast approaching state side as four teams battle to be called Conference Champions and earn an all important ticket to the Super Bowl. In the National Conference the San Francisco 49ers go to the Atlanta Falcons. After that game the American Conference title game sees the New England Patriots host the Baltimore Ravens.
The 49ers were the most impressive team last weekend. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick just gets better every week. After getting off to a horror start throwing the interception he recovered well and went on to break the record for most rushing yards for a QB in any game.
The confidence gained for getting one over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will do the men from the west coast the world of good and many fancy their chances of making the New Orleans show piece two weeks from Sunday.
However on the other side Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has an embarrassment of riches in the receiving corps. On their day, any of Roddy White, Julio Jones or future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez came be a difference maker. The latter was inspirational last weekend in their last minute win over Seattle.
Some however, will question the Falcon’s nerve. In what should have been a blow-out win against the Seahawks, they conceded 21 fourth quarter points. Even when their dramatic late field goal put them ahead with eight seconds left they nearly still lost it after the messed up squib kick.
This one is too close to call and don’t be surprised if there’s more late drama in this one
The other match is a repeat of last years AFC decider. That day the common feeling is Joe Flacco outplayed Tom Brady. And, if it were not for the infamous late Billy Cundiff missed field goal it would have been a different outcome. That said, the Pats are defending champions and are at home this time round.
The big question here is how much did the overtime game last week take out of the Ravens while the Patriots had a routine enough victory over Houston. Unfortunately it’s hard to see the Ray Lewis factor work against a determined New England side who are the favourites for the coveted Lombardi Trophy.
However if the likes of Lewis and Tyrell Suggs can stop the Patriots offence (though that’s easier said than done!), New England have been known to leak points so don’t count the Ravens out just yet.
One thing is for sure though. If this weekend’s games are even half as good as last week’s action then they will be unmissable.