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NFL predictions — take two

POSTED January 17, 2012 10:17 p.m.

So, my earlier predictions did not exactly pan out.

After Cincinnati and Detroit’s first round losses there was still a flicker of hope that my Super Bowl picks would offer me redemption, but Green Bay’s horrendous performance against New York left me hanging out to dry with a plate of crow. Instead of dwelling on my misses let me point out that, as I predicted, Baltimore, New England and San Francisco will be participating in the Divisional Championship rounds of the playoffs. So give me some points for that.

Now, with the 49ers facing the Giants, I’m forced to recalculate my previous Super Bowl equation. So allow me to do my thing.

San Francisco looked very impressive against New Orleans. I know that Alex Smith and the offense went punch for punch with Drew Breese and Co., winning the game in spectacular fashion with “The Catch III,” but Frisco’s defense was their key to victory. Niner fans were on edge during the Saints’ first drive as Breese completed pass after pass. And when New Orleans rolled into the red zone I know some of those fans started to doubt their team’s chances. All that changed in one play though; the doubts, the momentum and the tone of the game. When Donte Whitner stopped the Saints’ drive on the two yard line with his monster hit on Pierre Thomas and subsequent fumble recovery, New Orleans began their march towards defeat. The play embodied the attitude and style with which San Francisco’s played with all season.

When the Giants run onto the field at Candlestick Park on game day, the 49ers should expect a team nearing their peak.  San Francisco must minimize turnovers and maintain its level of intensity from the previous week if they are to advance to Super Bowl XLVI. I believe the 49ers can and will do it, using their defensive presence to frustrate Eli Manning.

In my last column I chose the Ravens over the Patriots in the AFC title game. A lot of people were impressed with New England’s performance against Denver, but come on. The Patriots beat a Denver team that didn’t stand a chance. Still, New England is coming into Sunday’s game with a lot of heat against a Ravens team that always seems to have its share of doubters. Originally I picked Baltimore to win, and I have to admit after the Houston game I was close to reversing my prediction. But now that I know Ed Reed is healthy and ready to play I’ve decided to stick to my guns.

So you heard it here folks, it will be a Harbaugh Bowl come Feb. 1. Keep your eyes peeled for my next column where I’ll break down the matchup and let you know who will end up with the Lombardi trophy.

To contact Frankie Tovar, e-mail ftovar@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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