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Beating the Book: Backing the Ravens and 49ers

Chris Liss

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

I went 2-2 last week, and as some commenters pointed out, I went 4-0 on the O/U. I can't really take credit for those because I don't even think about them when making up the scores - I just envision the game as I see it and put a plausible number that occurs to me once I've picked a side ATS. In fact, I don't even know precisely what the O/U lines are when I make up my scores.

But this week I took a look after I wrote them up, and I guess I have NE-BAL right on the number and SF-ATL slighty under. I feel pretty good about SF holding the Falcons to a low score, and even better about the sides. I don't like that I'm with the public on both, but I haven't felt this strongly about two playoff games in quite some time. I suppose my best bet is the Niners, but really both are best-bet level. It'll be interesting to look back on this if I turn out to be wrong.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

49ers -4 at Falcons

It's obviously the sucker side laying four on the road in an early game with a West Coast team, but the Falcons miracle win (after nearly choking away another top seed) struck me as their Super Bowl. Tony Gonzalez can go out having won a game in the playoffs, and Matt Ryan now has a postseason win under his belt. But Ryan and the Falcons were unable to muster the game-winning drives when they had the lead, with one ending in an interception on a bad overthrow and another a three-and-out. Winning in miraculous fashion was a gift of sorts, and Atlanta's got to be ecstatic to be where it is. The 49ers, on the other hand, thrashed a former Super Bowl champion and arguably the best quarterback in the league. They were in this game last year and lost only because their kick returner fumbled the ball. This is a team with its sights set on winning the Super Bowl and one whose play - particularly the win in New England a few weeks ago - justifies its place in a conference title game. The Atlanta defense had no answer for Russell Wilson, and now it draws a similar quarterback running and throwing behind a superior offensive line. The 49ers defense is also at least the equal of the Seahawks', especially as the latter was missing its best pass rusher. The bottom line - I don't care who the public likes - I'm laying the points.

49ers 33 - 13

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Ravens +9 at Patriots

While the Ravens fell off significantly down the stretch, and lacked the impressive defensive rate stats from seasons past, it's hard to see how this matchup differs all that significantly from last year's, one where Baltimore was a Lee Evans drop away from making it to the Super Bowl. Moreover, Baltimore won in Denver, in a game where it yielded two special teams touchdowns and played in frigid conditions and high altitude. The Patriots, on the other hand, are every bit as crisp on offense as they've been all year, and the bend-but-don't-break defense slowed Houston down enough to put away the game. But with Rob Gronkowski out, and the defense still vulnerable to the pass, it's hard to see why this line is so large. Joe Flacco may not be an elite quarterback, but he has the arm strength to get the ball behind the defense, and an above average quartet of receivers in Torrey Smith - who torched Champ Bailey last week - Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones. The Ravens are finally reasonably healthy on defense, and while Tom Brady's playoff resume dwarfs that of Peyton Manning, I don't expect the going to be easy. The Ravens cover and quite possibly win outright.

Ravens 27 - 24

We went 2-2 last week, 4-4 overall in the playoffs and 121-129-6 on the regular season. From 1999-2011 we've gone 1,689-1,512 (52.8%), not including ties.