NFL Championship Matchups
Coach Ron Meyer: NFL Championship Matchups
I think we learned a lot about a few NFL head coaches in last week's Divisional Round of the playoffs. Jim Harbaugh of San Francisco showed already has the chops to win playoff games with a dramatic victory over Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. The biggest head coaching disappointment probably struck Green Bay fans...as they watched a team that seemed ill-prepared for the challenging Giants attack, and unready to bounce back from adversity once things started heading the wrong way.
What can we expect this week, now that we're down to the final four? Let's run the matchups.
BALTIMORE AT NEW ENGLAND
John Harbaugh vs. Bill Belichick
I have to say I wasn't impressed with John Harbaugh last week in the win over Houston. Of course, we're talking about proven winners here, and it's all relative. In the big picture, there's A LOT to like about John Harbaugh! But, in terms of winning a championship, last week's tight win showed several negatives.
The offense couldn't get much going against a strong Houston defense. Baltimore barely made it past 200 total yards, and scored what they did on cheap field position points. Yes, Houston's defense is good...but championship coaches figure out how to score when they have some weaponry. This isn't a offensive devoid of talent. It's an offense that struggles under pressure, and always has under this head coach.
The defense did a good job of forcing turnovers, but that's not likely to help you so much against a veteran quarterback. The Ravens aren't playing rookie T.J. Yates this week at home. They're playing first ballot Hall of Famer Tom Brady in Foxboro. If last week's result was based on production instead of turnover differential, Baltimore would have lost. And, part of the reason Baltimore would have lost was because the defense wasn't as stalwart as it needed to be.
The team as a whole played with fear once again rather than confidence. We've seen that in recent playoff trips for the Ravens. They're always better than the worst Wildcard teams, or the worst division winner. Have they ever taken the field and played like a team that was truly READY to play in a Super Bowl? To me, this reflects on the head coach.
So, obviously I have to give the coaching edge here to Bill Belichick. The Patriots hold their heads like Super Bowl champs when they're playing Preseason games in August. Of course, there are no bargains with a spread as high as -7 in a championship game. It could turn out that my own service pick is the dog because I'm giving Belichick credit for a few points...but not a full touchdown. You'll have to sign up to find out!
NY GIANTS AT SAN FRANCISCO
Tom Coughlin vs. Jim Harbaugh
The other Harbaugh, Jim shows you what I'm talking about in terms of swagger. His Stanford teams acted like Pac 10 champions when he was there...and soon they were playing at a very high level. His San Francisco 49ers took the field last week like they belonged, and jumped out to a big early lead vs. the favored New Orleans Saints. Right now, I would probably take Jim plus the points over John!
But, Jim isn't facing John, he's facing proven veteran Tom Coughlin who has once again surprised the NFC by having his team peak at exactly the right time. The defense is playing well after a season of disappointment. Eli Manning is playing with confidence as he tries to crawl out from under his brother's shadow.
How do pick a coaching edge when both players are going as hard as they can for their current coaches, and playing at a very high level? I'm ready to call this a wash. But, I will say that I have a preference for veterans late in close games...and that would point to Coughlin. Of course, Sean Payton had that edge for the Saints last week on this field and look at what happened!
The only real strike against either I see right now would be inexperience for Harbaugh...and that's just something that hasn't mattered throughout his brief career. My selection in this game will be based on how the talent matches up. I'm going to call the coaching a wash...and I'll have respect for whichever man ends up representing the NFC in the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
My official NFL Championship Parlay can be purchased here at the website Sunday morning with your credit card. If you have any questions about my service, please call my handicapping office at 1-877-540-8787.
You have a lot choices when it comes to picking a handicapper this weekend. Let me ask you one big question. How many of them have ever coached in the NFL playoffs?! If you want championship handicapping performance, it's time to put a COACH IN YOUR CORNER!
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