Friday Forecast: Championship game picks

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
9:30
AM ET


This is Friday Forecast, where we'll see how my predictions hold up against our readers'. This week, I will go against MR2114 (who correctly matched the total points for last week's game) and dmarcuccio (who matched my points for Ravens-Patriots game).

Here are our predictions for Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games:

Jamison Hensley

Patriots 27, Ravens 16

Giants 21, 49ers 14

MR2114

Ravens 24, Patriots 20

49ers 27, Giants 24

dmarcuccio

Patriots 24, Ravens 19

Giants 17, 49ers 10
PREDICTION BREAKDOWN

Patriots 27, Ravens 16: The Ravens are the most balanced team in the AFC. The problem is Baltimore hasn't been playing up to its potential for weeks. The Patriots will expose two weaknesses of the Ravens -- red zone offense and lack of a pass rush in road games. Baltimore and Joe Flacco will move the ball against the AFC's worst defense, but they won't punch the ball into the end zone consistently. Defensively, the Ravens have six sacks in their past five road games. When you fail to get pressure on Tom Brady, he will hurt Baltimore's secondary just like Philip Rivers did.

Giants 21, 49ers 14: San Francisco is a team that needs to force turnovers to win. Giants quarterback Eli Manning hasn't been making many mistakes lately. In his past three games, Manning has thrown nine touchdowns and turned the ball over once (one interception and no fumbles). You don't have to put up a lot of points to beat the 49ers. You just can't give them easy opportunities. This will be a bad weekend for the Brothers Harbaugh.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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