Published January 17, 2013
Nobody asked me, but ...Drew Markol, Sports Network
The NFL playoffs are down to four teams and my Super Bowl pick is still alive. Stop the presses.If this keeps up, people might start to think I know what I'm talking about, and wouldn't that be a nice change?Now, by writing that, I've just doomed the Denver Broncos and given the New England Patriots a spot in the Super Bowl, right?Nope, I don't think so. After years (or so it seems) of being wrong with my predictions, things have changed.What? The Broncos lost to the Ravens? In Denver? Where the heck have I been for the last four days? You mean I have to try to stomach at least another three days of tributes to Ray Lewis? Heaven help me.My prediction luck will turn one day - 2015 anyone? Until then, keep going against my picks and make yourself some money. Of course, I'll try again later on in this space, but losing the Broncos doomed me to being me.Let's take a closer look and what we're going to see Sunday as the final four teams have been whittled down to two.Sunday, Jan. 20San Francisco 49ers AT Atlanta Falcons, 3 p.m. ETBoy, the Falcons tried so hard to give that game away to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.Heck, even in the final seconds - after that stupid onside kick when they had the lead - the Falcons nearly blew it.Why the Seahawks didn't try a field goal - I know it would have been a super long attempt - when the game was indoors is still beyond me.They tried the obligatory Hail Mary which seems to work once a year. And that's the problem. It works once a year and fails the other 200 times, but that one time makes coaches believe they have to try it.You don't. You have an NFL kicker. Inside. Sure, Ryan Longwell doesn't have the leg he used to have, but his leg was a better option.All right, enough about the Seattle loss. But it does tell you plenty about the Falcons.Atlanta, maybe because of its well documented playoff woes, seems to play not to lose. That's a very bad idea and it's going to backfire Sunday.San Francisco, especially quarterback Colin Kaepernick, plays to win. An interception returned for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers? No big deal, we'll bounce back.(Keen observers of this column will remember me praising the benched Alex Smith and warning the Niners about making the switch to Kaepernick. Yet one more bad call).The Niners can run it with Frank Gore and Kaepernick, and throw it. They can also play defense and the pressure they'll put on Matt Ryan will be more effective because Ryan can't move quite as well as Aaron Rodgers.That's just too much for the Falcons to overcome.Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots, 6:30 p.m.Who was the second happiest person besides Lewis to see the Ravens beat Denver? Tom Brady, of course.Yes, Baltimore has played New England tough, but that stops Sunday. The Ravens are playing on so much emotion and that doesn't last for three games in the playoffs.First, the Lewis sendoff in the win over the Indianapolis Colts at home and then the trip to Denver to shock the Broncos. The guess here is that the Ravens are running on empty, simply spent by winning two games many thought they wouldn't win. And now they're asked to win another huge game on the road.That's just too much to ask.And, to make matters worse, Brady rarely loses in the playoffs. He's an unbelievable 17-6 in his career. It'll be 18-6 Sunday night.There you have it, a Super Bowl matchup between the Broncos, oops, the Pats and the Niners.They go to New Orleans in two weeks and the Niners will add to their Lombardi Trophy collection (we'll take a closer look at this game as we get, well, closer to it).For now? Damn Broncos.Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia- area newspapers for over 25 years.