Now that the college football season is done we can all focus on the NFL and the conference championship showdowns this weekend. Is it us or has defense been the theme of these playoffs? Pittsburgh and Baltimore (division foes) will square off in Pittsburgh for the passage to the Super Bowl (and a Browns fan's worst nightmare). While the Arizona Cardinals will host the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC’s spot in the big game. I will preview the AFC Championship while Stefan handles the NFC and his beloved Eagles.
The Steelers are a very well coached team that has play makers on each side of the ball and Vegas has them as the favorite here. The Ravens, on the other hand, have reached this round of the playoffs with a rookie QB from a FCS (Football Championship Series) school, Delaware, and a rookie coach. The Ravens offense last year average 17.2 ppg and 302 ypg, which landed them with the 22nd best offense in the league. They moved up to #18 this year scoring 24.1 ppg while producing 324 ypg. The Steelers rank 22nd in offense this year scoring 21.7 ppg and racking up 347 ypg.
However, offense is not going to be the story here. Defense is how each of these teams succeeded this year and its what will win on Sunday. The Steelers and Ravens are the top 2 defenses in the league giving up 13.9 ppg and 223 ypg and 15.2 ppg and 244 ypg, respectively. The Steelers won both matchups this year by a combined 7 points. This is a tough game to call but Baltimore will ultimately win, I just feel it.
I expect both teams to be able to establish the run on each other and the difference maker will be on defense. Look for guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to win this game for the Ravens by pressuring Big Ben on D, getting some big hits in, and creating turnovers while Joe Flacco does just enough to win the game. It will be a great game to watch as there is snow in the forecast with a high of 27 and I love me a good defensive struggle. I say Ravens and Eagles in the Superbowl. But we'll just have to see what Stefan says about that!
Prediction: Ravens 17 Steelers 13