2013 nfl playoffs

Your NFL Championship Weekend Preview

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws the ball against the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
Those aren’t tattoos, they’re play charts.

By Sunday night, we will know who will meet in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Of the four teams left, only one — the Patriots, of course — has been to the Super Bowl in the last twelve years. (The Patriots have gone five times this century. The Ravens were last there in 2001, the Falcons in 1998, the 49ers in 1994.) Hockey starts this weekend, and we’ve got the two conference championship games. Should be quite the grand weekend. Let’s make some picks. If you’ll forgive the pat on the back, our preseason Super Bowl prediction is still in play. (Playoff record: 6-2.)

San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons, 3 p.m., FOX
It’s the second consecutive NFC Championship Game for the 49ers, though they won’t get to play this one at home. The Georgia Dome isn’t traditionally the most intimidating road venue, though, and the Falcons have sort of felt like paper-top-seeds all season. It’s still sort of crazy that the NFL season has in large part boiled down to “can anyone stop Colin Kaepernick?” but this is why it’s so hard to predict anything, ever. The 49ers are the trendy, it’s-their-time pick — they’re actually Vegas favorites, on the road — but we were pretty inspired by the way the Falcons pulled out the late win over Seattle last week, particularly with the whole sports world screaming “playoff chokers” in their ears. (The Falcons collectively have many ears.) We think this is the “all right, so Matt Ryan is top shelf after all” game. And the 49ers fall short again. Falcons 31, 49ers 27

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots, 6:30 p.m., CBS
So, are you ready for two weeks of Ray Lewis talk, or Tom Brady talk? (Cyanide is an option.) We haven’t been a believer in the Ravens yet — the only two playoff games we’ve predicted wrong were the two Ravens games — but it’s tough to deny that Joe Flacco hasn’t taken a major step forward this January. And hey, as Mike Tanier pointed out, Flacco now has seven playoff wins, one behind Dan Marino, Eli Manning, and Steve Young, and just two behind Peyton Manning. But Tom Brady has seventeen, the most of all time. Listen, we’re obviously suffering from a blind spot on the Ravens: We don’t think they’re nearly this good. Even with Gronkmeister out, we think the Patriots will have enough to get to yet another Super Bowl. Patriots 24, Ravens 16

Your NFL Championship Weekend Preview