Ed and Jeff headed into the Conference Championships neck and neck, tied in both record (4-4) and units (1000), but even though they both went 2-2, Ed has taken a lead in units. The major difference came down to half a point in the 49ers-Falcons game. Ed picked up 75 units with Atlanta barely hanging on for a cover, while Jeff lost 150 units. They both hit with the Ravens over the Patriots and both missed on going with the under in the NFC Championship. Jeff correctly predicted the Ravens and Pats would slow down their high-octane offenses and picked up 50 units, while Ed lost the same amount for going with the over. So, now Ed is at 6-6 with 1100 units and Jeff is 6-6 with 900 units. With each of them putting up 400 units, it's still anyone's game, though. Can Jeff pull off the comeback? Or will Ed hang on for the win?
Look back at their previous columns to see how the contest has shaken out. Wild Card | Divisional | Conference
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
Ed: Both these teams are playing really good football right now. The 49ers dominated the Falcons in the second half to earn their trip to New Orleans. But the Ravens were equally as dominant in the second half against the Pats and seemed to play an even better all-around game. The 49ers have an explosive X-factor in QB Colin Kaepernick, a solid running game and one of the toughest defenses in the league. The Ravens have a balanced offense capable of hitting a deep pass at any time, a defense that has gotten a lot healthier in recent weeks and their own X-factor in the impending retirement of Ray Lewis. While Lewis has clearly lost a step, or maybe even a few steps, he’s the emotional leader of this team, and that can go a long way. I also think the Ravens have a big advantage in the kicking game. David Akers has been laboring through what seems like a season-long slump, while rookie Justin Tucker has been as solid as it gets for the Ravens. In what I think will be a back-and-forth, close game, I think that could end up being the difference. Especially since you’re getting more than a field goal, take the points.
Ravens +3.5, 150 units
Jeff: The Ravens seem to be the popular pick here as the line has come down a point and a half since it opened. LB Ray Lewis will suit up for the last time in his career as the public seems to think he'll go out on a winning note. With all that said, I'm not one who believes it will be a storybook ending for Ray Lewis and the Ravens on Super Bowl Sunday. This game will be tight throughout, but in the end, I think the 49ers will make more plays to win this game. QB Colin Kaepernick will use his arm and legs to keep the Ravens' defense guessing all game long. It's going to be interesting to see how the Ravens defend the read-option. Either way, Kaepernick will take what the defense gives him. Look for RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree and TE Vernon Davis to all have solid games as they'll have plenty of opportunities to make plays in the running and passing games respectively. Defensively, the 49ers need to do a better job putting pressure on the quarterback. This is something they have struggled with since DL Justin Smith injured his tricep against the Patriots in Week 15. This defensive unit will give up some points to the Ravens' offense, but I think the 49ers have too many offensive weapons, which will be the difference. In what will be a high-scoring game, the 49ers win 31-24 as Kaepernick wins the Super Bowl MVP.
49ers -3.5, 100 units
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers (Total points: 47.5)
Ed: As mentioned above, I think this will be nip and tuck with both teams trading scores throughout. While Joe Flacco didn’t do much to back up his “elite” preseason comments during the regular season, he’s once again proven to be a stellar postseason performer. He’s already earned himself a handsome payday for next year, but I don’t think he’s done just yet. I’m sure the 49ers will key on trying to eliminate the big play, but I think Torrey Smith gets free for at least one big play, and I think Jacoby Jones could be a major factor. And even if the 49ers can bottle up Ray Rice in the running game, I expect him to do some damage in the passing game. The Ravens will likely be focused on shutting down the 49ers’ running game and forcing Kaepernick to throw, but the dynamic QB proved last week he’s more than capable of scoring that way too. I think the Ravens will come up with a big stop late in the game, but the 49ers should be able to put some points on the board before that. Take the over.
Over 47.5, 150 units
Jeff: Both these offenses have been playing well leading into this game. In this year's playoffs, the Ravens have averaged 30 points per game and the 49ers a little under 37 points per game. Ironically, the total has come down a few points since it opened with the public predicting this matchup to be somewhat of a low-scoring, defensive battle. I'm going in the other direction. I think this will be an offensive game with more points scored than people think. I also like that fact that this game is being played indoors with no elements. Flacco and Kaepernick will be able to move their respective offenses effectively. I'm expecting some big plays on offense from both teams on Sunday. This game could easily turn into a shootout.
Over 47.5, 200 units
Total touchdown passes for Joe Flacco (Total: 1.5)
Ed: Since I think this is going to be a high-scoring game, this one seemed like one of the most logical props. The 49ers are stingy against the run and will clamp down if Baltimore gets near the goal line. I like Flacco’s chances of hitting at least one bomb in this one, and if he gets close to the end zone, Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin are two great options as well.
Over 1.5 TD passes, 50 units
Total receptions for Anquan Boldin (Total: 4.5)
Jeff: Boldin has been getting five or six catches a game in this year's playoffs. With the 49ers' secondary focused on preventing the long ball to WR Torrey Smith, Boldin will see a lot of mid-range targets from Flacco. Boldin has been targeted roughly nine times a game in this year's playoffs. I expect him to see a slight bump in those numbers in this matchup.
Over 4.5 receptions, 50 units
Total receptions for Randy Moss (Total: 2.5)
Ed: Now I don’t agree with him that he’s the best receiver ever, but I have a feeling Moss will get some chances in this one. He’s been more vocal than he has been all season, and I think he’s motivated to show that he’s more than just a decoy. I think the Ravens will be focusing on Michael Crabtree, and while Vernon Davis has all the talent in the world, Kaepernick hasn’t gone to him on a consistent basis. I think Moss will have some opportunities here, and I think he makes the most of them.
Over 2.5 receptions, 50 units
Total rushing attempts for Frank Gore (Total: 18.5)
Jeff: Gore has averaged 20 carries a game in the playoffs this year. The 49ers will look to get the running game going on Sunday. I'm not worried about Kaepernick stealing carries away from Gore. In the Packers game where Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards, Gore still finished the game with 23 carries. Look for Gore to finish right around his average.
Over 18.5 rushing attempts, 50 units