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In a game for the ages, Tom Brady throws for 360 yards and three touchdowns, and it's almost not enough as Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens prove they're big-time. Rice racks up 147 yards and two touchdowns, giving the Ravens a 34-31 lead with less than two minutes left on the clock. But that's when Brady gets the ball, and with the Super Bowl in his sights, the superstar QB leads his team downfield, then catches the defense by surprise by handing the rock to Stevan Ridley on a draw for the game-winning 7-yard touchdown.
Madden SIM OF SF VS ATL
Anyone curious why Alex Smith was relegated to bench duty in San Francisco got their eye-popping answer last week, as Colin Kaepernick went into full-on beast mode against the Packers. Can he do it again in the NFC Championship Game and lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl? According to the "Madden NFL 13" simulation, that answer is a resounding yes, with Kaepernick throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 70 yards and one score to help San Francisco pull out the 37-31 victory in overtime. The 49ers actually led by 8 late in this one, with Atlanta needing a last second 9-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez plus a 2-point conversion to Gonzalez just to send the game to OT. And while the Falcons pulled off the miracle to tie things at 31, Kaepernick and crew took over from there, with Frank Gore finishing off the Falcons with a 3-yard touchdown to win the game for San Francisco.
For the AFC game, the Ravens at the Patriots (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS), money has come in on Ray Lewis and his band of merry men. We always talk of late favorite money, but this game may be the exception. Not that there won't be plenty of money on the favorite, but don’t look for a landslide. As far as straight bets are concerned, I believe most books will be heavily-weighted with Ravens bets.
The Ravens' defense has been on the field for 87 plays in each of its first two playoff games. That's an average of 20 more plays per game than the regular season for the Baltimore defense.
Now, the Ravens face a fast-break Patriots offense that ran a league-high 1,191 plays in the regular season. How the Ravens hold up, especially in the second half, could be a major factor in the AFC Championship Game.
"They are big into getting people out of position, and you watch the Houston game last week, a huge example of how they can confuse you and get you to line up not right, and then a touchdown is too easy," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said of the Patriots' offense. "In a game of that magnitude, you have to be able to look at them and say, ‘Come play football.’ Because if they can get you out of position … I mean, anybody is going to do that. Defenses, we draw up schemes to get people out of position and things. So, anytime you get that type of offense, you’ve got to be ready to play every play like it’s your last play.”