Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

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by Bryan Harvey

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'

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by Bryan Harvey

A world of child soldiers & cowboys

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by Bryan Harvey

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

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NFL Playoffs: Championship Sunday Preview

January 22, 2012

The Championship Game previews below were put together by Russ Morris and Bryan Harvey (Teach):





Giants at 49ers

Russ' Take: “I think it probably surprised a lot of people that the Giants and the 49ers are in the NFC championship game,” Jim Harbaugh said this week.  He is absolutely right. Before the season, most experts didn't believe the 49ers had any chance of making the playoffs.  After another losing season, another change at head coach without a full offseason, and another year with Alex Smith as the starter, nobody believed the turn around would happen this season.  And that is what has been so sweet about this season as a 49er fan.  After ten forgettable years of incompetence on the field, the success of this season just blindsided all of us.  But still, once the 49ers were firmly in the playoffs, there was still doubt that the 49ers were a legitimate threat to win the NFC.  As a fan, I was telling myself and friends that one win in the playoffs would legitimize the Niners great season, that they weren't just a fluke regular season champion like Atlanta last year.  Then last weekend happened.  Niners fans celebrated Catch III and the resurrection of Alex Smith's career to beat the explosive Saints and the Giants soundly beat the top seeded Packers in Lambeau the next day.  Now that the 49ers host the Giants on Sunday for a legit chance at a birth in Super Bowl XLVI, once again the public doesn't believe the 49ers can do it again against the streaking Giants.  I believe they have the most complete team left in the playoffs and they will slow down the surge of Eli Manning and the Giants offense.  They will prove the doubters again like they have all season.  

49ers 24 - Giants 21


Harvey's Two Cents: The craziness that was the 49ers-Saints game last week has left me to believe they will find themselves in the Super Bowl by the end of today. I really felt going into last week that both NFC games were a toss up; in fact, I thought every game except for New England's matchup with the Denver Broncos was a toss up. What impressed me about the 49ers game is that the manner in which the game unfolded it felt like San Francisco actually beat the Saints twice. First, they created turnovers and stymied the Saints offense and special teams. Then the Saints stormed back only to lose in an eventual shootout to Alex Smith. To me, the 49er victory over the Saints was much more impressive than the victory the Giants had over the Packers because the scarlet and gold faced an opponent that actually showed up to play and went blow to blow with them, revealing to everyone that there might be more to this team than their defense and running game. The Giants on the other hand played a game in which everything went their way (except for the call on the Greg Jennings fumble), including Mike McCarthy's desperate and panicked play calling.


What I have yet to hear many people discuss is how the Giants were unable to run the ball against a weak Green Bay defense. Ahmad Bradshaw broke loose for twenty-four yards to set up the Hail Mary that ended the first half, but without that run, the Giants' rushing numbers are seventy-one yards on twenty-six carries; and their yards per carry would have been 2.7. And even with the Bradshaw run, the Giants' only averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Personally, I don't think their numbers will be much better against the 49ers, and I don't see their secondary getting beat on a Hail Mary where Hakeem Nicks barely leaves the ground to make the catch. 




Baltimore at New England






Russ' Take: New England is the better team even with their terrible secondary, which I don't think Joe Flacco will be able to take advantage of. The Ravens beat the Texans last week by a touchdown, but anybody watching that game saw the Texans win that game except for in the turnover battle and on the scoreboard.  Their lines were superior on both offense and defense. TJ Yates was able to throw the ball downfield to Andre Johnson a number of times and Arian Foster rushed for 132 yards. Joe Flacco was sacked five times and Ray Rice was able to only muster sixty yards on the ground. But with four turnovers to the Ravens' none, that proved to be the difference.  I believe this is the only way the Ravens can beat the Patriots this weekend.  When the Patriots and Ravens played in the 2009 wildcard round, the Patriots imploded with three turnovers in their first four possessions, within their own territory, to give the Ravens a 24-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.  Flacco only had to complete four passes to win the game. The Ravens will need good things to happen early to give them a chance.  Ultimately, I think Tom Brady and the Patriots offense will score thirty points or more on the Ravens and Flacco will be able to keep up.  


Patriots 34 - Ravens 20


Harvey's Two Cents: I'm not sure if it's fair or not, but because the Patriots secondary is historically bad, this game will be viewed as some sort of indictment on Joe Flacco's abilities as a Playoff caliber quarterback, which seems somewhat strange considering that he's always won at least one game in four consecutive Playoffs. How many current NFL quarterbacks can say that? Aaron Rodgers can't. Drew Brees can't. Peyton Manning can't. Eli Manning can't. And neither can Tom Brady. The Flacco haters will tell you that his wins come in spite of him, but his supporters--if they exist--could argue that his two touchdowns, no turnovers, and the fact that he completed the majority of his passes was a significant part of last week's win, especially considering that Ray Rice did not have a spectacular day. In other words, Joe Flacco isn't terrible, but is he good enough to make the Patriots defense stumble, setting into motion all the gears and chains and pulleys that could cause Tom Brady to sweat a little bit, maybe force a few passes, and give an aging Ravens defense one last chance at clenching Super Bowl glory? I don't know, but in a postseason that's already seen the high flying Packers and Saints crash and burn, I'm not so sure that the Patriots are going to cruise through this round. 


2 comments:

Bryan Harvey said...

Russ: Wanna go and toilet paper Eli's house? I'm ready if you are. Sorry 'bout your Niners.

January 22, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Russ said...

After 24 hours of avoiding everything sports, I'm over it and excited for next season and the future. Biggest regret will be not seeing this championship caliber defense play for the Super Bowl against Tom Brady. They deserved to be there so they can be compared to the great defenses of all time, but they won't be. The other regret is how Kyle Williams is being scapegoated as the Buckner by the Bay and getting threats from so called "fans". Hope he keeps his head up and keeps strong during this so he can contribute in the future. Young, up and coming WR who was thrust into a spot he hadn't played the whole season. Re-sign Carlos Rogers, Dashon Goldson, and Alex Smith. Sign Dwayne Bowe or Vincent Jackson. Draft another WR early. Championship.

January 23, 2012 at 9:11 PM

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