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Month: January 2013

Super Bowl 47 Preview: Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers

Quarterbacks will be front and center when the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens battle the NFC champion 49ers from San Francisco this Sunday, Feb 3rd in New Orleans, looking to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl XLVII.

Colin Kaepernick will be under center for the Niners when kickoff ensues at 6:30pm ET Sunday, while the Ravens will have Joe Flacco leading the way, as the two teams look to add another notch to their respective team’s Super Bowl belts. The 49ers have claimed five championships for their franchise, while the Ravens are looking to add to the one win they claimed back in 2001.

Sportsbook odds makers have the 49ers as the slight favorites, giving them a 3.5 point handicap with the Total now sitting at 47 points.

Kaepernick has been especially impressive since he took over from the incumbent quarterback Alex Smith mid-way through the 2012 season, displaying an ability to not only throw the ball down the field, but using his legs to confuse defences, which was on display when he rushed for an NFL rushing playoff record for a quarterback by hauling the ball 183 yards during a big win over the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. Flacco has been equally impressive by throwing eight TDs and zero interceptions while spearheading an attack that has knocked off some of the best QBs in the game in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, during wins over the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.

On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers have arguably the best front seven in football, and boast one of the top 3 defenses in the NFL statistically. They have one of the top rush ends in Aldon Smith, DT Justin Smith, middle linebacker Patrick Willis and outside linebacker NaVarro Bowman. The Ravens have been defined by their defence over the past decade, led by all-world middle linebacker Ray Lewis. However this year, the Ravens have struggled to slow down top offences and sat in the middle of the pack, but key to this drop has been injuries to key players such as Lewis, safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, as well as outside linebacker Jameel McLain.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Niners have Frank Gore leading the way on the ground as one of the best running backs, as well as long time stretch receiver Randy Moss, and wide out Michael Crabtree, who’s become the go-to guy for Kaepernick on 3rd down. For the Ravens, Torrey Smith is the man when it comes to big plays, but Baltimore also has solid receiving weapons in Anquan Boldin and Tight end Jacoby Jones. Ray Rice is the man when it comes to running ball, but he’s also a definite threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, especially on 3rd and long when Flacco has to check down.

2013 NFL Playoffs: AFC and NFC Championship Weekend Review

After an exciting championship weekend in the NFL, the Super Bowl matchup is now set as the San Francisco 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans on Sunday, February 3rd, 2013. Let’s take a look and see how each team made it to the big game.

You can always bet the spread, total and moneyline, as well as a myriad of prop bets throughout the game.

NFC Championship Game

The Atlanta Falcons raced out to another big lead in the first half this week just like they did in the divisional round against the Seattle Seahawks. Behind the solid play of quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones, the Falcons built a 17 point first half lead. However, San Francisco made some excellent halftime adjustments and quickly got back into the game early in the second half. Once the 49ers were able to force a couple of turnovers and convert those turnovers into points, the Atlanta Falcons appeared to play a bit more passive, possibly being worried about blowing another large lead.

The 49ers eventually went ahead with 8:23 to play in the fourth quarter thanks to a Frank Gore nine yard touchdown run. With plenty of time left on the clock, the Falcons tried to march down the field for the game winning touchdown but eventually came up shot when they could not convert on fourth and four on the San Francisco 10 yard line.

AFC Championship Game

The AFC Championship game was a rematch from a year ago and did not disappoint NFL fans. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots came out firing on offense and built 13-7 halftime lead over the Baltimore Ravens. After scoring 10 points in the second quarter, Patriots fans had to be thinking that their team had finally figured a way to move the ball against the Ravens and that they would cruise in the second half. However, that was not the case the Baltimore Ravens put the clamps down on the Patriots and did not allow a single point in the second half while scoring 21 points of their own.

The turning point in the game came early in the fourth quarter when Bernard Pollard laid a huge hit on running back Stevan Ridley who then fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Baltimore. The Ravens had just taken a 21-13 lead two minutes earlier and needed to come up with a big stop, which they did when they recovered the fumble. Four plays after the turnover Joe Flacco hit Anquain Bolden for another touchdown and the Ravens went up 28-13 and appeared to have the game in hand.

With two hard hitting defenses winning their respective conference’s championship game, the Super Bowl promises to be another exciting game in what has been an overall highly entertaining NFL playoffs.

2013 NFL Playoffs – Divisional Round Matchups

The NFL playoffs will keep rolling along this weekend as the Divisional Round is set to get underway. Both of the top two seeds in each conference will play their first playoff game of the year this weekend and should be well rested after having a bye last weekend. The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons were the two biggest beneficiaries of the bye week as the defensive units for both teams needed the time off to let some injuries heal.

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos – 4:30 PM ET Saturday, January 12th

The Baltimore Ravens will travel to Denver to face the Denver Broncos on Saturday afternoon. These two teams met in week 15 of the regular season with the Denver Broncos thoroughly defeating the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore by a final score of 34-17. In that game, Peyton Manning appeared to be in full control of the Denver offense as he was directing players all over the field en route to a 31-3 third quarter lead.

The offense for the Baltimore Ravens seemingly figured some things out in the second half of last weekend’s playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. All in all, the Ravens racked up 441 yards of total offense. Without two Ray Rice fumbles, the final score could have been a lot more lopsided than the 24-9 final.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers – 8:00 PM ET Saturday, January 12th

The Green Bay Packers will travel west to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night in what is also a rematch from the regular season. Way back in week one, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers by a final score of 30-22. Alex Smith was still the quarterback for the 49ers and the Green Bay Packers were still trying to sort out their offensive line issues. Since that game, both teams have taken on a new identity with Green Bay getting back to having a potent passing attack while Colin Kaepernick has taken over the quarterback position for the 49ers and provided a more explosive offensive punch.

In their victory over the Minnesota Vikings in round one of the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers spread the ball around to ten different receivers. With more players getting healthy for the Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have several excellent targets down field to get the ball to and should have another fine passing day so long as he has time in the pocket.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons – 1:00 PM ET Sunday, January 13th

The Seattle Seahawks will look to upset the top seed Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon after defeating Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on the road in the first round of the playoffs. Seattle will once again turn to their excellent defense in this game as they look to stop Matt Ryan and the Atlanta passing attack. Wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White will need to have a big game if the Falcons are going to move on to the NFC championship game as the Falcons have struggled to run the ball all season long.

If the Seattle Seahawks are able to move the ball effectively and efficiently on the ground against the Atlanta Falcons like they did against the Washington Redskins, it could be a long day for Matt Ryan and company as the Falcons will not have many opportunities to put points on the board.

Houston Texans at New England Patriots – 4:30 PM ET Sunday, January 13th

In another rematch from the regular season, the Houston Texans will travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots. When these two teams met earlier in the year, the New England Patriots easily defeated the Houston Texans by a final score of 42-14. Tom Brady led the Patriots to a 21-0 halftime lead and they never looked back after that as he finished the game with 296 yards passing and four touchdowns.

In their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in round of the AFC playoffs, the Houston Texans play a much more inspired game on defense. J.J. Watt was constantly getting pressure on Cincinnati’s quarterback Andy Dalton. In order for the Texans to prevail on Sunday against the Patriots, Watt will need to do much of the same while Arian Foster will need to shoulder more of the offensive load.