Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Vinny Ditrani's NFL Picks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Vinny Ditrani's NFL Picks

Article excerpt

The NFL conference title games Sunday could provide some interesting story lines heading into Super Bowl XLVI.

If the Giants and Patriots are victorious, we will see a rematch of the classic Super Bowl XLII battle which saw New England's hopes of being the first 19-0 team destroyed. There might be a bad omen for these Giants. In 2007, the two teams played in the regular season and the Pats won. This year the Giants won the regular- season meeting.

If the 49ers and Ravens win, the Harbaugh brothers will go head to head for the crown. Baltimore's John and San Francisco's Jim became the first siblings to coach against one another in an NFL game on Thanksgiving night, when the Ravens sacked 49ers quarterback Alex Smith nine times en route to a 16-6 win.

If it's the Giants and Ravens, we will get a rematch of that lopsided Super Bowl XXXV. Baltimore's defense shut out a Giants offense that had put up 41 points against Minnesota in the NFC title game in scoring a 34-7 victory.

The only matchup without historical cache is the one the oddsmakers expect to be made after Sunday's game. The two teams have met just 11 times, with the 49ers winning seven, but the Pats taking the last encounter, 30-21, in October 2008. The two will meet in Foxboro next season, and the game certainly will be the Thursday night opener if it is -- as Las Vegas predicts -- a Super Bowl rematch.

AFC Championship Game

*Patriots over Ravens, giving 7 -- New England's defense finally showed up last week, albeit against Tim Tebow and the biteless Broncos. The Pats will have a little tougher time against Joe Flacco and the Ravens, but not much tougher if Flacco plays like he did last week against Houston.

Even Ravens safety Ed Reed called out his quarterback for his shaky play and declared Flacco must do a better job against the Patriots. …

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