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Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
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AFC Conference Championship: Ravens at PatriotsBy: Joel Beall
Aside from the "No one believes in us!" card, no sentiment is as universal in the football realm as the concept of revenge. It's proven to be an effective battle cry for teams, and with good reason. After all, nothing unites a group like the perception of avenging an unjust matter.
To a varying degree, each squad in this weekend's AFC Championship has retribution on its mind. The obvious lies in Baltimore's corner, as the Ravens return to the scene of last season's demise. Kicker Billy Cundiff's errant field-goal attempt in the closing seconds of last year's conference championship cost his lineup a shot at victory in overtime, sending coach John Harbaugh and company home in heartbreaking fashion. Now armed with a new lights-out leg, the Ravens are a band fueled by reprisal.
Yet New England's shortcoming in Super Bowl XLVI has the Patriots attending to unfinished business as well. With a ticket to the Big Easy on the line, this payback-fueled soiree serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
For a man making his third AFC Championship appearance in just his fifth season in the league, Joe Flacco sure receives his fair share of flak from the media, fans, even his own franchise, who failed to bestow a contract extension on their former first-round pick heading into the fall. Though the spotlight remains on the Broncos' collapse in last weekend's Divisional Round tilt, the Baltimore signal caller alleviated a hearty contingent of this criticism with his performance in Mile High, tossing for over 330 yards and three scores in his crew's epic comeback. With his arrival on the free agency market imminent, Flacco is playing with a chip on his shoulder, demonstrating that he warrants mention among the league's top play-callers.
Competing with this truculence is not a foreign concept to the Baltimore defense, historically one of the best and baddest units in the AFC. However, the 2012 resistance has deviated from this reputation, ranking in the middle of the pack in most relevant categories. In their, ahem, "defense," extended absences from stars Lardarius Webb, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs correlated to this subpar showing, but for a team that prides itself on obstructing adversarial offenses, Baltimore has not lived up to their billing. The Ravens will need to elevate their combativeness if they aspire to play into February, for halting the vaunted Patriots attack is an endeavor for even the strongest of armaments.
Not that Tom Brady and the New England offense are without their woes. Tight end Rob Gronkowski will be sidelined for the rest of the playoffs after re-fracturing his forearm versus the Texans last week, subtracting one of the most effective red-zone targets in the league from their aerial assault. And while the Week 3 matchup between these teams was worked by replacement officials and thus led to a penalty-filled and chaotic display, it bears mentioning that the Ravens held the Pats to just 2.3 yards per carry on 34 rushing attempts.
Luckily for fans in Foxborough, Brady has been in this situation a time or two, with last weekend's conquest giving the Michigan product the most playoff wins in NFL history. Though Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and rookies Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson garnered most of the quarterback attention this season, there's no field general an offense would rather have at the helm in this atmosphere than the venerable Brady.
So who emerges on top in this conference-championship rematch? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com football simulation engine, the Patriots claim victory 62.3 percent of the time by an average margin of 24-21.
AFC Conference Championship: Ravens at Patriots
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Score||WIS Interactive|
|@ New England Patriots||62.3||24||Simulate Game|
NFC Conference Championship: 49ers at FalconsBy: Adam Meyer
San Francisco 49ers' fans still have the 2012 NFC Championship game fresh in their minds. Kyle Williams' second fumbled punt handed the Giants prime real estate and Lawrence Tynes booted New York into the Super Bowl.
In this year's conference title match-up, Jim Harbaugh turns to Colin Kaepernick to lead his team for a chance to play in a game the franchise hasn't reached since 1995. The "Kaeped Crusader" dominated Green Bay in the NFC Divisional round to the tune of 263 passing yards, 181 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.
Atlanta's Matt Ryan lived up to his cold-blooded nickname facing Seattle. Ryan led the "Dirty Birds" down the field, into field goal range and earned his first playoff win. The Georgia Dome will now host an NFC West throwback rivalry that has provided us with images of Deion Sanders and Andre Rison duking it out.
The matchup to keep an eye on is the Falcons' sixth-ranked pass offense (281.8 passing yards per game) up against San Fran's fourth-ranked pass defense (200.2 passing yards allowed per game). In the three previous one-and-done playoff appearances, Matty Ice failed to throw for over 200 yards. It wasn't until last week when he finally topped that mark with 250 passing yards.
Away games haven't been kind to San Francisco lately. The normally stout defense has allowed an average of 30.6 points per game in the last three road trips (1-2 in those games). Kaepernick's stats outside of Candlestick Park are startling as well. His interception to TD ratio at home is 4:0, but away it's 6:3.
If you throw out Week 17, when the Falcons' starters watched most of the game from the sidelines, Atlanta's only losses come when they allowed 30 or more points per game. In the eight games Kaepernick has started, the Niners averaged 28.6 points per game.
According to the computers, which simulated this game 501 times, San Francisco is victorious 55.9 percent of the time by an average score of 22-20.
NFC Conference Championship: 49ers at Falcons
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Score||WIS Interactive|
|San Francisco 49ers||55.9||22||Boxscore|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||44.1||20||Simulate Game|
Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Meyer is a Contributor for WhatIfSports.com.