AFC, NFC championship game predictions from Baltimore Sun

FootballSportsBaltimore RavensNew England PatriotsAtlanta FalconsSan Francisco 49ersSuper Bowl

About Baltimore Sun staff picks:

Each week, Sun columnists and NFL reporters will pick games (not against the spread)

Sunday's games

49ers at Falcons

Ravens at Patriots

Kevin Cowherd

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 177-86-1

49ers 27, Falcons 21: Colin Kaepernick's made a believer out of me. He's fast, smart and a winner. Better yet he's on a roll. That was a Mona Lisa of a game the 49ers QB turned in against the Green Bay Packers last week: 181 yards rushing and 263 yards passing for two touchdowns. He's too much for the Falcons "D" to handle.

Patriots 30, Ravens 21: Ravens go into this game with enormous confidence. But Tom Brady to Wes Welker is a tough combination to beat, especially at Gillette Stadium. And now the Pats actually have a running game with Stevan Ridley (1,263 yards rushing in the regular season) and Shane Vereen. Ravens will need more than emotion from Ray Lewis' "last ride" to neutralize Vince Wilfork in the middle of the Patriots "D" line, too.

Edward Lee

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 159-104-1

49ers 37, Falcons 21: The Colin Kaepernick Express ran through the Green Bay Packers and should find another willing partner in the Atlanta Falcons, especially if defensive end John Abraham isn't 100 percent. Jim Harbaugh will get to the Super Bowl before his older brother does.

Patriots 24, Ravens 20: The Ravens are the only defense that has forced Tom Brady into more interceptions than touchdown passes, but the New England Patriots quarterback is 5-2 against the Ravens. Make it 6-2 as the Patriots will go to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.

Mike Preston

Last week: 4-0

Overall: 168-95-1

49ers 35, Falcons 28: After watching the 49ers play last week, they might be the best team in the NFL. The 49ers are physical on defense and they have a running game similar to the old Green Bay Packers in the 1960's. Plus, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh does a good job with formations and scheming things up. It's time for the Harbaugh Bowl. 

Ravens 31, Patriots 28: The Patriots have a lot of things working in their favor. They are at home where they have been nearly invinciable. They have the NFL's best head coach and top quarterback, but I'm not sure their resolve is as great as the Ravens. The Pats were the Big Game last year and the Ravens haven't been to the Super Bowl since 2000. Quarterback Joe Flacco and the offensive line are hot, and desire and the law of averages should put the Ravens over the top.

Peter Schmuck

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 171-92-1

49ers 23, Falcons 16: Colin Kaepernick is going to run the Falcons ragged and send Jim Harbaugh to his first Super Bowl as a head coach. It's tough to go coast-to-coast to win, especially in the postseason, but the Niners are too tough to care.

Ravens 27, Patriots 24: The Orioles have already proved the oddsmakers dead wrong once and now they are going to do it again. They're on a mission and they've already proven they can compete with the Patriots in the postseason at Gillette Stadium. Now, it's time to get over the hump.

Matt Vensel

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 165-98-1

Falcons 33, 49ers 27: Back in September, I picked the Falcons, who have an arsenal of weapons for Matt Ryan, to beat the Pats in the Super Bowl. And while my gut leans toward the 49ers, I can't turn back now.

Patriots 31, Ravens 29: The Ravens will again put up a heck of a fight on the road, but Ray's last ride will run out of gas in Foxborough, where Tom Brady and the high-octane Patriots offense are tough to beat.

Aaron Wilson

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 177-86-1

49ers 24, Falcons 16: Hard-nosed running game led by Frank Gore and the athleticism of quarterback Colin Kaepernick controls the clock. Defensively, pass rusher Aldon Smith harasses Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan into miscues.

Patriots 31, Ravens 27: Despite a game effort that pushes Patriots to the brink of elimination, Ravens' fall short of elusive Super Bowl berth as Tom Brady throws a series of darts to Wes Welker. Joe Flacco and the offense are unable to score enough points to make up for several defensive breakdowns.

Jeff Zrebiec

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 169-94-1

49ers 31, Falcons 24: Much of the talk has been on the two quarterbacks - Matt Ryan and Colin Kaepernick. But I think San Francisco will win this game because they'll dominate the line of scrimmage and they have the better defense.

Patriots 27, Ravens 23: I'm not a big believer in the whole "Team of Destiny" storyline but the Ravens are making it hard not to at least contemplate the possibility. However, it's even harder to go against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in a big game at home.

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