NFL Championship Weekend: CBS Local Sports Picks
CBS Local talent and sportscasters from across the country are giving you their insight on this week’s Championship Playoff matchups. Catch the picks from each of our experts to see who will be the victor in these games: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers & Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots. Let us know your picks and the final scores in the comment section below!
Eric Nelson | CBS Minnesota – WCCO
New England 30, Baltimore 23
Tom Brady was Tom Terrific against Denver with an NFL playoff record six touchdown passes last week. Look for that trend to continue Sunday in Foxboro against Baltimore. The Patriots have a chance to go to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in 11 seasons and know that another Super trip will further validate their greatness. New England’s freakish tight end Rob Gronkowski has a whopping 20 touchdown catches this season. Just as impressive are Gronkowski’s thundering spikes that leave moon-sized craters in the end zone. The Ravens best chance to win is to jam Gronkowski and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez off the line. Re-route these guys and make them work every time they run.
San Francisco 27, NY Giants 24
Alex Smith had a Joe Montana moment last week when he threw a game-winning laser beam to Vernon Davis with 9 seconds to go against New Orleans. Smith will have another Montana moment this week when he leads the 49ers to the Super Bowl with a win against the Giants. SF coach Jim Harbaugh is following in the footprints of 49ers icon Bill Walsh. Like Walsh, Harbaugh coached at nearby Stanford before taking the 49ers job. Even if the Giants lose this game, it is time to add the letters t and e to Eli Manning’s name because he has been playing quarterback at an elite level all season.
Jaime Maggio | CBS LA – CBS2
Giants 23, San Francisco 17
Giants have been doing the most talking before the NFC championship. Eli Manning will lead the Giants to his 2nd Super Bowl of his career. It will be close, but the receiver core of NY will be too much for the Niners.
New England 32, Baltimore 24
Tom Brady will take his team back to the Super Bowl once again. I don’t think there isn’t anyone in the league that can guard Gronkowski.
Scott Zolak | CBS Boston – WBZ
Patriots 31, Ravens 17
I feel like it will be a slugfest early on between the Patriots and Ravens. Baltimore has a lot of swagger, they went into Foxboro and won two years ago, but I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to win. That is the issue. You watch them play against the Texans, sometimes they remind you of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense and at times, when there is a drought, they line up to run plays just to run plays. If Ray Rice doesn’t have 20 touches, well, you better jam those 12 touches in the third quarter; sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to their offense. If the Patriots get a good 10-13 point lead, I don’t think Joe Flacco can go empty and get into a throw-for-throw type game with Tom Brady.
Giants 24, 49ers 13
This is supposed to be a mud bowl on a bad field. They don’t have the proper drainage out in San Fran that most fields now-a-days have. If it is mucky, I think that favors the Giants. I just think they have something going on right now where they’re feeling it, they’ve done it before on the road, and they’ve been that sixth seed. Eli Manning is playing better than he’s ever played and with Ahmad Bradshaw running the way he’s running, you dose them with a little Brandon Jacobs, and the Giants are off and running. A huge factor is how the Giants can rush three or four down, and that’s big. They can apply the pressure with three or four guys which will give San Fran problems.
With these two defenses, it’s going to come down to Eli Manning vs. Alex Smith. I don’t want to be mean about Alex Smith, but we all know what he is.
Glen Macnow | CBS Philadelphia – WIP
49ers 27, Giants 24
I have to admit, I didn’t see either of these teams winning last week. But the Giants have rekindled their 2007 magic, getting hot at the end of the regular season and shocking the world in the playoffs. Give Tom Coughlin credit. That said, the Niners are the pick here. In a close match-up, I’ll give San Fran the big edge on two fronts: Their +28 turnover ratio during the regular season and a terrific special teams. Former Eagle David Akers wins this one with a last-minute field goal.
Patriots 28, Ravens 17
As a card-carrying Belichick hater, I’d love to see this one go the other way. But the coach is too smart and the QB is too brilliant to see any other outcome. But for two plays — the fumbled punt return and the late interception by Ed Reed — the Ravens would have lost to an upstart Houston squad playing a third-string QB last week. Even if Baltimore’s defense plays its best, the Pats will score points, and I can’t see Joe Flacco keeping up.
Jim Hill | CBS LA – CBS2
Giants 24, San Francisco 10
Defense, defense, defense….for the Giants.
Patriots 17, Baltimore 14
Tom Brady will prevail and Flacco will breakdown in a pressure situation..ie. interception at end of game.
Rich Lord | CBS Houston – KILT
New England 24, Baltimore 20
Even though both of these teams are flawed in some way, the outcome of this game is very tough to predict since each team has shown the resiliency to overcome those shortcomings en route to a berth in this conference championship game. The Patriots have survived by relying on Tom Brady and an explosive offense despite a defense that is less than elite. The Ravens made it this far with their usual brand of dominating defense despite an offense that has experienced its ups and downs. Yes, New England has issues defending the pass but, like last week versus Denver, I don’t believe that Baltimore’s passing attack is good enough to exploit that weakness. Joe Flacco was sacked 5 times versus Houston and Ray Rice did not run the ball well. I think they will fare slightly better in Foxboro, but I believe that this game will be decided by Brady and the New England offense. Too many weapons. Home field advantage. Who’s going to contain Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez? And finally, Bill Belichick is going to pour over every second of his team’s playoff defeat against the Ravens 2 years ago, as well as every snap they’ve played this year, and find something that he can exploit. He almost always does.
New York 19, San Francisco 17
Wow. What a matchup. Are there 2 better defenses in the NFL today? I don’t think so. Another tough pick, but I’m going with the team that’s been there and done that before. I was very impressed last week with how the 49ers defense physically assaulted the Saints. In the 4th quarter, quarterbacks Alex Smith and Drew Brees were like 2 heavyweights slugging it out and landing repeated haymakers in the final round of what became an instant classic as Smith took home the belt. Amazing. However, the Giants’ front seven, augmented by timely big plays from the likes of Antrel Rolle on the back end, is just too good. Talk about peaking at the right time. A team that had to win its final regular season game just to qualify for the playoffs is now playing like a runaway train on its way to Indianapolis. While I believe that both defenses will have their moments in this one, the Cinderella story that Jim Harbaugh and Smith have crafted, with big help from Frank Gore and Vernon Davis, will come to an end at the hands of Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Jake Ballard, Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and friends. They’re just too much. The Niners are one year away; the Giants have arrived.
Joe Benigno | CBS New York – WFAN
Patriots 31, Ravens 17
I think that the Pats will win the entire thing. Belichick and Brady are on their “Revenge Tour.” This week, they look to avenge their playoff defeat against Baltimore two years ago. We know how great Brady is, but the much maligned Patriots defense is rounding into form which makes the Pats my pick to win.
Giants 27, Niners 24
The Niners may have the best defense in football. Nobody tackles better than they do, but the Giants defense is playing at the same level as the Niners. This game is basically a toss up which will probably come down to the quarterbacks. With that said, I have to go with Eli and the Giants.
Jeff Joniak | CBS Chicago – WBBM
New England 31, Baltimore 24
Tom Brady excels in home playoff games (9-2) and his tight ends Rob Gronkowski & Aaron Hernandez are problematic for the Ravens defense. Ed Reed is hobbled and Ray Lewis isn’t what he used to be in coverage. Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata have to control the game for the Ravens to quiet Brady in the pocket. If the Ravens can run the ball at a high level this could be a down-to-the-wire affair. However, I simply like Brady over Joe Flacco, and thus the Patriots to return to the Super Bowl.
NY Giants 21, San Francisco 18
This promises to be a nasty, physical, tight, muddy affair on a slick track. It’s a very difficult game to handicap in my opinion. Niners quarterback Alex Smith plays well at home, and that’s where he beat the Giants in the regular season. How he handles the Giants superior pass rush could dictate the outcome, or at least as much as the Giants ability to protect the ball offensively. I think this comes down to turnover ratio and the team who creates points off those turnovers.