So, let's start here.
I'm 7-1 against the spread so far in the NFL playoffs. Only the Saints scoring that late touchdown to spoil Detroit's backdoor cover keeps me from a perfect run.
Also, in that same post I made my Golden Globe picks. I was 11-2 picking the film categories, 10-1 picking the television categories.
If you can find anyone with a better combination than that, go read his picks.
That said, I'm just 5-3 straight up in the playoffs and had the Saints to win the whole thing, so with that as the backdrop, here are my conference championship picks in order of confidence.
New York +2.5 San Francisco
I'm a 49er fan; I expect us to lose Sunday.
Coming into the playoffs, I expressed that if there were one team other than Saints/Packers, who were solidly the two best teams in football in the regular season, who might wind up with the trophy, it was New York. You don't want to overstate momentum, but if healthy, that's a team structured to duplicate the run last years Packers team went on.
And as readers of my football predictions pieces have been exposed to since pre-season, I have been fixated on this scenario of losing the NFC Championship game for awhile, and if that, as a result, would be less preferable than going 2-14 and drafting Andrew Luck.
Other than Vernon Davis, and the change of pace Kendall Hunter, I don't know if the 49ers have offensive weapons. I get how that sounds a week after beating the Saints in an all time great shootout finish, but when you compare the danger in a now healthy Giants backfield to a clearly slowing Gore, and the 3 headed Giants wide receiver group, every member of which might be better than any 49ers wide receiver, and an elite quarterback in Eli Manning against (sorry) a game manager in Alex Smith (yes, he's coming off the game of his life, yes, but as I talked about with Tebow, there's no reason to believe that's suddenly who he is - Alex Smith is an average quarterback who, since he turned the ball over so little this year in managing our field goal based offense, was a good ball control type quarterback. Sure, he could do it again, sure he could - there's a reason we're 2.5 point favorites and not two touchdown underdogs, but generally, you are who you've been and not who you've been for 3 minutes a week ago) it's just hard to say we compare favorably on the offensive side. And on the defense, while the front seven is tremendous and even with the Giants surging pass rush you'd still rather have our group, the secondary can be exploited as the Saints did in their comeback a week ago. Absent those five Saints turnovers (absent our enormous turnover advantage all season) we lose last week. And turnovers...turnovers are hard to count on.
Look - we could win, it's a close call. I am as immersed in Bay Area sports culture as I could be from the other side of the continent, and there is a full on "the good times are back" vibe going on right now that I really enjoy. I've always said I'd rather lose the NFC Championship than the Super Bowl - but that doesn't apply anymore; I'd like this ride another two weeks, even if it ends badly (if we win, I'm picking the Niners in the Super Bowl). If it's Sunday night and the San Francisco 49ers are going to their 6th Super Bowl - I'll be cheering as loudly as anyone and I won't be startled by the result.
But if you're picking - New York's better than we are, they match up well, our offense is more likely to be what it has been all season long than be what it was in the last few minutes of our most recent game, and I'll take the Giants both plus the number and straight up.
New England -7 Baltimore
The Patriots are better; they're probably going to win. The number's down to 7 and I'll buy in at that number. New England's defense is kinda crummy and Baltimore should take some advantage of that - but the most likely result of the game is the Patriots win by a touchdown and they get the rematch with New York that supporters of both teams assume is coming.