NFL Conference Championship Picks

Baltimore at New England

The Pick: New England

Why I’m right: The Patriots’ defense isn’t going to shut anybody down, but Joe Flacco isn’t going to pick them apart, either; Tom Brady won’t throw six touchdowns Sunday, but he’ll win the duel; Bill Belichick has his team playing inspired football, and New England will want to prove it can beat a team that’s better than Denver.

Why I’m wrong: Baltimore’s defense can rattle Brady; the inevitability of the nonstop media frenzy surrounding an All-Harbaugh Super Bowl; Ray Lewis is a man possessed and will want to retire with another ring; and the Baltimore D will want to prove it can shut down a quarterback that’s better than T.J. Yates.

New York Football Giants vs. San Francisco

The Pick: San Francisco

Why I’m right: Alex Smith will probably only have this chance once in his career; the 49ers home crowd is rabid for a Super Bowl berth after a taste of playoff success; the San Francisco passing defense is superb; Vernon Davis will cry again if they win so there’s no telling what he’ll do if they lose; the inevitability of the nonstop media frenzy surrounding an All-Harbaugh Super Bowl.

Why I’m Wrong: The Giants are playing their best football on both sides of the ball; Eli is a far better quarterback than Alex Smith; New York’s defensive line will almost certainly force Smith into a boneheaded interception or blindside-hit fumble; Coach Tom Coughlin seems to push all the right buttons when the Giants aren’t expected to win, even though they kind of are.

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