Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Game capsules: NFC and AFC title games

NFC: Giants (11-7) at 49ers (14-3)

Time: 6:30 p.m. TV/radio: Ch. 13; 1010-AM

Coaches: Giants — Tom Coughlin (74-54 overall, 6-3 playoffs); 49ers — Jim Harbaugh (13-3 overall, 1-0 playoffs)

The 49ers win if …

The defensive front holds the Giants in check on first and second down. San Francisco will win, perhaps easily, if it is able to zero in on Giants QB Eli Manning on tough down-and-distance situations. The 49ers' pass rushers are too good to make things easier for the Giants on predictable passing situations.

The Giants win if …

They can effectively mix up their play calls, something that will require they successfully run the ball. The forecast calls for messy weather (rain and high winds) in the Bay Area today anyway, so this aspect is paramount. The Giants ran for 95 yards against the Packers last week; not a lot but more than enough to keep the defense honest. Ahmad Bradshaw averaged 5.2 yards on his 12 carries.

Matchup to watch

49ers DE Justin Smith, left, will see multiple blockers on the left side of the Giants offensive line. It will take multiple blockers to contain him after he had one of the three sacks of the Saints' Drew Brees last week.

Our take

This is a game featuring two teams built in opposite fashion. The Giants, with QB Eli Manning and his playmaking receivers, test the defensive-minded, efficient 49ers. Whichever team can play its style and tempo positions itself to win, and we think that team will be the Giants. The Saints were effective in playing an up-tempo game last week against the 49ers but lost because of their defense. The Giants defense is plain better.

Prediction: Giants 26, 49ers 24

AFC: Ravens (13-4) at Patriots (14-3)

Time: 3 p.m. TV/radio: Ch. 10; 1010-AM

Coaches: Ravens — John Harbaugh (44-20 overall, 5-3 playoffs); Patriots — Bill Belichick (139-53 overall, 15-5 playoffs)

The Ravens win if …

They can find a way to break out of their offensive mediocrity. The defense got three interceptions last week against the Texans. But the offense produced just 227 yards, which won't be enough to beat the Patriots. QB Joe Flacco, left, took some friendly fire from teammate Ed Reed last week. Here's Flacco's chance to have the last laugh.

The Patriots win if …

QB Tom Brady can make more plays than the Ravens defense. That means he has to avoid interceptions and get rid of the ball quicker than he'd like with the Baltimore pass rush certain to be closing in. Brady rarely plays poorly at this time of year with a 4-1 record in AFC title games.

Matchup to watch

Until someone proves they can stop Aaron Hernandez — or fellow TE Rob Gronkowski — the Patriots passing game is going to have a decisive edge. With Hernandez, left, consistently winning matchups, it gives Brady way too many easy completions. Ultimately, that moves the chains. It's up to the Ravens linebackers to stop him.

Our take

We think the New England defense, for all its weaknesses and advanced age (particularly on the line), can hold up against the Ravens offense. However, it's less likely even a defense as dominant as Baltimore's can shut down the Patriots' offensive machine. Their creative use of tight ends coupled with QB Tom Brady's accuracy make it a tough assignment for any defense.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Ravens 24

Stephen F. Holder, Times staff writer

Stat pack

passing yards

rushing yards

passing yards allowed

rushing yards allowed











offensive rankings: Giants — 8th; 49ers — 26th

defensive rankings: Giants — 27th; 49ers — 4th

points scored: Giants — 24.6 (9th); 49ers — 23.8 (11th)

points allowed: Giants — 25.0 (25th); 49ers — 14.3 (2nd)

Stat pack

passing yards

rushing yards

passing yards allowed

rushing yards allowed











offensive rankings: Ravens — 15th; Patriots — 2nd

defensive rankings: Ravens — 3rd; Patriots — 31st

points scored: Ravens — 23.6 (12th); Patriots — 32.1 (3rd)

points allowed: Ravens — 16.6 (3rd); Patriots — 21.4 (15th)

Game capsules: NFC and AFC title games 01/21/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2012 8:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support


    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)