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NFL championship games: Staff picks

Sunday's games

Ravens at Patriots

Giants at 49ers

Kevin Cowherd

2-2 last week

180-84 overall

Ravens 27, Patriots 24

I agonized over this one. Studied both teams, had a few beers, decided the Ravens defense can contain Tom Brady and Ray Rice will have another big day against the Patriots woeful defense. Unless that's the beer talking.

Giants 24, 49ers 17

The Giants have the hot quarterback in Eli Manning, an offense that put up 61 points in the last two games, and a great pass rush. And they beat the mighty Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field last week. Their confidence level is off the charts.

Edward Lee

3-1 last week

171-93 overall

Patriots 35, Ravens 20

With the offense's underwhelming performance against the Texans after a bye, how are the Ravens supposed to figure out the Patriots with just one week of preparation? UGGs over Suggs.

Giants 28, 49ers 24

Eli Manning will overtake his brother as the better Manning, and the Super Bowl will go Harbaugh-less for at least this year.

Mike Preston

2-2 last week

168-96 overall

Ravens 27, Patriots 24

I've been writing the Ravens are the best team in the AFC since they beat the Jets. Regardless of how how the Patriots played last week, there is no use backing down now.

Giants 28, 49ers 24

New York seems to be peaking at the right time. They are stopping the run and running the ball. They are getting pressure with their front four. They'll be back in the show again.

Peter Schmuck

3-1 last week

185-79 overall

Ravens 27, Patriots 24

The oddsmakers say the Pats are a touchdown better, but the Ravens are 6-0 this year against the other teams that made the playoffs. The Pats are 2-2 against playoff teams and both wins were against the Broncos.

49ers 24, Giants 20

Eli Manning and the Giants are playing very well right now, but it's tough to go coast-to-coast and it's tougher when your opponent is riding the wave of Harbaugh mojo, especially if Manning has a couple of turnovers left in him.

Kevin Van Valkenburg

3-1 last week

168-96 overall

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 Ravens' 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.

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 they 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.

Mark Viviano

2-2 last week

174-90 overall

Ravens 27, Patriots 20

Ray Rice and company exploit New England's lack of defense. Just as happened to Green Bay, playoffs are no place for porous defense.

Giants 20, 49ers 10

Two strong defenses, one proven QB.  Eli Manning is the difference in a close game.

Jeff Zrebiec

2-2 last week

170-94 overall

Patriots 28, Ravens 24

I think the Ravens absolutely can win this game and I certainly wouldn't argue that they're the more well-rounded team. But with the Super Bowl on the line, it's very hard to bet against one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history playing on his home field.

49ers 23, Giants 17

The Giants might be the hotter team, but the 49ers have been the better one all season. A tight and physical contest is won by Jim Harbaugh team, which will take their remarkable turnaround to the Super Bowl.

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