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Kevin Van Valkenburg
3-1 last week; 168-96 overall
AFC championship pick: Ravens 31, Patriots 30
I can't pretend I'm extremely confident in this pick, but I'm rolling the dice based on my gut. I think Tom Brady is the best quarterback of this era and he'll have Baltimore on the ropes at times, but I think the Ravensí defense will rise to the moment a handful of times and Joe Flacco will as well. Flacco has traditionally played some of his best games right after he's been dissed, and he'll shock the world by driving the Ravens to a last-minute field goal.
NFC championship pick: Giants 23, 49ers 20
The Giants' defensive line is played its best football, and so is Eli Manning. I don't think San Francisco will be able to force turnovers the way it did against the Saints and Alex Smith will be under constant duress. Manning will make enough plays in the end to get to his second Super Bowl.
January 19, 2007