POORE'S PICKS: Championship Weekend

Can Kaepernick lead SF to the big game?

Jim Poore is back with his Championship Playoff picks column against the spread. Baltimore or New England? Atlanta or San Francisco?

 As much as I bragged last week as to how good I was for the first week of the playoffs, I was just as awful picking the games for the division rounds. I went 0-4 against the numbers and 2-2 straight up. Such is the life of an NFL prognosticator. My high was very short lived. And I expected it to be. Baltimore was the big upset winner last week. Some thought a victory was possible, but most thought that Denver would win fairly easily. They probably should have, but any team can win on any given week. The Patriots winning was no surprise, but many thought the outcome was going to be a little closer than it was.

  Atlanta needed a win in their game to set the fans minds at ease. They almost blew a comfortable lead, but Matt Ryan and the offense made some big plays down the stretch. And the 49ers looked like world beaters, with Colin Kaepernick turning in an unbelievable performance. Since that big win, many now think that the 49ers are the favorite to win the Super Bowl. They just might have the right mix on both sides of the ball to be crowned champions. But that is why they play the games.
As always, home team in CAPS.
San Francisco  4  ATLANTA

The Falcons are a home underdog, so that tells a lot. It goes to show that some don't trust the Falcons at all, even at home. They can be a little soft, and they did nearly blow a big lead last week. And Matt Ryan has won only one playoff game in his career, which would be last week's. The Falcons have played very well at home all year though. Something tells me that they are similar to last year's Houston Texans, a team just happy to be where they are. They won a playoff game, and that is a start. The 49ers looked really good last week, and Colin Kaepernick was unstoppable. The Falcons defense is a little better than Green Bay's, but I think Atlanta will have a lot of issues containing San Francisco's offense. Many people have considered the 49ers to be the best overall team in the NFL since the middle of the season. I think they will prove it here.
49ers  36-24
NEW ENGLAND  9 1/2  Baltimore
This was an unexpected opponent for the Patriots, and now they are blessed with a home game. That doesn't necessarily mean they will win however. The point spread seems very high considering the history of these two teams. I don't think the Ravens have lost by nine points to the Patriots in recent history. Baltimore could be the healthiest they have been in some time, and their offensive line is playing very well. New England will not have Rob Gronkowski, but they have been able to score very often in his absence. I don't think they will have any problems scoring, but unfortunately for them I don't think Baltimore will either. Joe Flacco has been very good in the playoffs so far, and the team as a whole has a lot of momentum and emotion right now. So much, in fact, that I think they win this game. The Patriots are still relatively young in many areas. The Ravens are cagey old veterans. The Patriots have had their time and might again soon. But the Ravens time is right now.
Ravens 30-27
Record For Divisional Round: 0-4 ( 2-2 without the spread )
Record For Post Season: 4-4 ( 6-2 without the spread )

Jim Poore has been a long time contributor to Patriots Insider with his weekly picks column. Let him know what you think. Email him here:

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