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The Jet Press Staff Goes Roundtable on Championship Weekend

By Alan Schechter
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September 23, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M

Championship Sunday is just under 24 hours away, with the first game kicking off at 3 PM tomorrow afternoon. The 49ers and Falcons meet, and then Ravens and Patriots to determine who is off to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. To get ready for it, the Jet Press staff went round table talking about each game and giving their picks. I’ll start it off:

ALAN SCHECHTER

    49ERS VS FALCONS

This is an interesting game because we have a quarterback that is starting his 9th game in the league in Colin Kaepernick, and a guy that just won his first playoff game in Matt Ryan. One of the biggest keys to this football game will be which quarterback is more ready for this grand stage. Another big key to this one will be the 49ers defense against the Falcons offense. The Falcons have some weapons in Roddy White and Julio Jones. If Matt Ryan can get in a rhythm with these guys early, they can win this one, despite being underdogs for the ball game. Ultimately, however, I think the 49ers are going to be too much for the Falcons. Winner: 49ers

    RAVENS VS PATRIOTS

Here is your 2011 rematch. The tough defense against the explosive Patriots offense. Can the Ravens give their leader, Ray Lewis, a chance to end his career with a Super Bowl victory? It will be tough, but I think it can be done. Why? The x-factor, Torrey Smith. He is an explosive deep threat, and the Patriots defense is beatable down the field. For the last couple of years we have begged our Jets to throw the ball down the field against these guys. If they can get the ball down the field, it will open up running lanes for Ray Rice, and they can get it done. Winner: Ravens

SEAN LESTER DURHAM

    49ERS VS FALCONS

The Falcons escaped last week by just a hair and that’s putting it mildly. The Falcons probably should’ve lost that game but to their credit, they pulled out a win over a quality playoff opponent and that’s the only thing that matters. SO they go from one stud rookie QB to another. Falcons had problems containing Russell Wilson last week during the Seahawks’ come back, well, it ain’t getting no easier with Collin Kaepernick coming into town this weekend. The Falcons pass rush hasn’t been as it needs to be in theses playoffs and now it has to contend with a team that is being led by a dual threat QB (emphasis on DUAL THREAT), a QB that has tremendous accuracy and throwing ability with elite running skills. That MAY be too much for the Falcons to deal with late in the game.

The 49ers come into this game holding on to the league’s top scoring defense. They’ve have much success this season in making very good QBs look VERY bad very quickly and that’s not a hyperbole. Matt Ryan is a good QB, heck he might even be a GREAT QB but the 49ers defense don’t really care. Matt Ryan got the playoff monkey off his back last week with the win over the Seahawks but the Monkey will hop RIGHT back on it this week as I don’t see the Falcons getting past the 49ers. The Falcons have 2 stud WRs and Tony Gonzalez so conventional wisdom says the should have some success through the air and I think for the most part they will but I believe the 49ers defense will stop the Falcons when they need to much like they did Aaron Rodgers and his quick strike offense last week. Winner: 49ers

    RAVENS VS PATRIOTS

This matchup is probably the hardest game in these playoffs to predict and last year’s AFC Title Game is exactly why. These teams just match up well with one another plain and simple. The Ravens got the best of the Patriots in their regular season matchup with a 31-30 early season victory over the Ravens, a game in which the Ravens rallied around Torrey Smith who had just attended the funeral of his brother just 24 hours prior and played inspired football.  The Ravens are playing inspired football right now for another reason as Ray Lewis announced his retirement effective season’s end has given this team a reason to go all in right now.  These 2 teams both have efficient offenses and excellent playmakers that can have an impact on the game at any time. The Patriots are running the ball about as well as they are throwing it right now and MAN is that saying something. The Ravens wont have to contend with Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski as he is out for the remainder of the playoffs with an injured arm but they still will have to deal with Welker and Co.

The Ravens are playing great offensive ball right now due primarily to their QB Joe FLacco who has been playing mistake free football and has taken chances and allowed his WRs to make plays on the balls instead of holding back like in years past. Look for Aquib Talib to take on the more aggressive Anquan Boldin while Torrey Smith will draw McCourty, should be an interesting matchup to say the least but if and WHEN the Ravens open up the run game with Ray Rice, expect the holes to be there for Flacco to take advantage of.

I expect somewhat of a shoot out that gets interesting late and I do expect the Ravens defense to force Tom Brady into some Un-Brady like mistakes. I see the Ravens taking advantage of the inspiration they are playing on right now and doing more than enough to get past the Patriots on their way to their first SB since 2000. Winner: Ravens

Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) celebrates after a play during the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Packers 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

JETSERIOUS

    49ERS VS FALCONS

Colin Kaepernick won’t be able to match his magic from last week, but that doesnt mean he wont play well. I envision Kaepernick utilizing his playmakers off the bat, getting them the ball early on quick strikes and screen passes. He’ll rely heavily on Frank Gore, attempting to keep Matt Ryan on the sidelines. Matt Ryan will have a solid game, but a late INT to Desean Goldson will be the difference in the game. It’ll be a throw that Ryan wishes he had back, similar to the one he under-threw to Roddy White, while under pressure, early in last Sunday’s game. Colin Kaepernick won’t look much better than Matt Ryan, but HIS TEAM will look much better than Ryans. Winner: 49ers

    RAVENS VS PATRIOTS

This is going to be a fast pace game for the first half, with 2-3 touchdowns for both the Patriots and Ravens. The second half will be a defensive battle, with the Patriots taking the lead by 6. The Ravens will then score a touchdown to go ahead by 1. The Patriots will respond with a field goal, taking a 2 point lead late in the 4th. Baltimore will have just enough time to take their offense down the field and win on a late field goal, courtesy of Justin Tucker. Winner: Ravens

DEBBIE SCHECHTER

    49ERS VS FALCONS

I don’t see Colin Kapernick putting up the same kind of yardage that he did in the divisional round but I don’t think that Atlanta defense, who had trouble with Seattle QB Russell Wilson, will completely figure out how to stop Kapernick. If Atlanta wants to have a shot, they need great games from Michael Turner and the running backs and they need to get after the QB… that means you John Abraham. Winner: 49ers

    RAVENS VS PATRIOTS

After all the times these two teams have met in the playoffs, I can see the Ravens making this close and riding the wave of Ray Lewis farewell tour. BUT it’s hard to bet against the Patriots after the season they’re having and no one really has been able to stop the hurry up (no huddle) offense that they play. Hard as well to bet against Tom Brady (as painful as it is to say). For the Ravens to pull of the upset, a steady dose of New Rochelle’s own Ray Rice and that Raven defense needs to smack Brady around. Winner: Patriots

BOB MONTGOMERY

    49ERS VS FALCONS

Colin Kaepernick has been impressive this season, particularly in the playoffs but as a first year starter he eventually comes back to earth. The 49ers defense will shut down Michael Turner and the run game but Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez and the talented receiving core will prove to be too much for the 49ers. Atlanta’s defense has been suspect against running quarterbacks this season, but I think they come through when it matters most. Winner: Falcons

    RAVENS VS PATRIOTS

I want to see Ray Lewis go to the Super Bowl as much as anyone, and the only thing standing in his way is Tom Brady. The Baltimore defense Holds up early in this contest, but The NE no huddle offense will eventually wear down this aging unit. Even without the Gronk, Tom Brady Has enough weapons around him to out score any opponent. Flacco is under rated and could keep this one close with the deep passing game. No miracles this week though as the Belicheck crew reaches their 6th Super Bowl. Winner: Patriots

SYDNEY

    49ERS VS FALCONS

I’m a big fan of Colin Kaepernick. I’m not sure this style of play will be as long lasting and game changing in the NFL as some others claim this is the beginning of but the fact is that right now it’s working and he’s completely enjoyable to watch. Atlanta barely came away with that win against the Seahawks and probably got away with the game at the end there as some form of karma for how the Seahawks got that call from the replacement refs to grab that W from the Packers in a game that feels like it was years ago. Who knows. The fact is, I like the 9ers for this game. Matt Ryan finally did what he hadn’t been able to do in playoff games before, and that’s Win. But I think it will be short lived victories for the team and the 9ers hand them the keys to send them packing. I like Colin Kaepernick, I like Harbaugh, and I just don’t think that the Falcons can stand up to what the 49ers will bring to the field. Kaepernick is about the experience the Tebow treatment with the media but at least this time I won’t cringe every time I see it. Winner: 49ers

    RAVENS VS PATRIOTS

It’s a Jets fan’s worst nightmare. The Patriots knocking on the door of going to yet another Super Bowl. Nobody in JetNation wants to see them win, let alone win to the point that they’re playing in April while the collective fanbase as well as the players and coaches we love to hate and hate to love are watching on a couch with plates of snack food and Solo cups of beer spread out before us. But Sunday shows us a true possibility of seeing that exact scene play out. I never want to see any Patriots team succeed and this year is no exception. Can the Ravens do it, though? Last weekend’s game shut up a lot of Flacco’s detractors but the sun shines on a donkey’s ass once a day and that may have been Flacco’s, er, shining moment. Sunday will answer that question of whether or not it was a fluke or did his proverbial youknowwhat’s finally drop and he’s ready to play Big Boy Ball along with the rest of the team that’s essentially carried him. Torrey Smith will have more to compete with for big plays compared to his field day against Champ Bailey. The fact is that the Patriots are an incredibly well put together team on all sides of the ball. Even with Gronkowski, who never should have been cleared to play last weekend, out, they still have more weapons and threats than other teams combined. It will be hard to do but as we Jets fans learned in January of 2011, anything is possible and as Bart Scott said, anyone CAN be beat. I’d love to see the Ravens do it even though I loathe any time the Jets take the field against them. But when it’s a matter of choosing between Patriots and Ravens? Ravens will always get this girl’s vote. Winner: Ravens

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