Sorry to disappoint those awaiting a 49ers-Patriots Super Bowl matchup two weeks from today.
However, this column, which incidentally, has been known to lead our readers astray on occasion, is projecting an Atlanta-Baltimore rendezvous in the Big Easy.
Perhaps a little hard to justify most might speculate considering the expertise displayed by Colin Kaepernick and Tom Brady, each of whom were masterful in directing their respective teams to divisional victories a week ago.
To refresh, San Fran's Kaepernick, barely on the Niners' radar when the 2012 season opened in September, was responsible for a majority of the 579 yards his team generated in a 45-31 wipeout of Green Bay.
A two-time Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the year at the University of Nevada, Kaepernick accounted for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) as Frisco outpointed the Packers.
"He's that new-style quarterback in the NFL that can run the read option, that can pull the ball down, run it and take it the distance from anywhere on the football field." That from 49ers' defensive back and ex-Buckeye Donte Whitner. No argument there.
Brady, meanwhile, passed for 344 yards and three touchdowns as New England thrashed Houston's Texans for a second time this season.
"Tom is a great competitor," offered Pats' coach Bill Belichick. "He's always been our leader and we all follow him. There's no quarterback I'd rather have than Tom Brady." Again, impossible to dispute, considering the U of Michigan product already owns three Super Bowl rings and quite possibly could have one or two more.
Playing today inside what will be a raucous Georgia Dome should work to the Falcons' advantage. Not to mention the fact Atlanta is a legit 14-3 and under the leadership of QB Matt Ryan whose 250 yards and three TD aerials were clutch in Atlanta's 30-28 squeaker over Seattle last week.
Expect wideout Roddy White to come up big in addition to future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, vying for a first Super Bowl bid in what's expected to be his final season.
Providing the right Ravens' club shows up at Foxborough, we're reasonably confident Joe Flacco and the Dirty Birds will deny Belichick and Brady another shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
SAN FRANCISCO AT ATLANTA. Granted, hard to discount the overall body of work turned in by Kaepernick and San Fran, though we feel top-seeded Atlanta remains the Rodney Dangerfield of pro football and will go about proving as much today. FALCONS, 30-20.
BALTIMORE AT NEW ENGLAND. We're not into this 'team of destiny' theory, though Flacco's last-minute 70-yard bomb which forced overtime last week at Denver led to a wild two-OT win. Should Baltimore take care of the ball and display offensive balance, we like their chances tonight. RAVENS, 24-17.
LAST WEEK: 3-1. SEASON: 164-94. UPSET SPECIALS: 6-12.
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