Noonan: AFC/NFC Conference Championship Predictions

Can Ray Rice repeat his 2009 postseason performance against New England's defense on Sunday? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Matt Noonan

Last week, I went 3-1. This week, I am expecting to go 2-0, but let’s see what happens!

New England 27, Baltimore 24 – I am super excited for this matchup, especially since these two teams always find a way to end the game with a dramatic sequence. Baltimore defeated New England last time these two teams met in the postseason, 33-14. Running back Ray Rice tallied 159 yards on 22 carries, and two touchdowns, while quarterback Joe Flacco finished the game 4 of 10 for 34 yards. Although, the true matchup to watch on Sunday will be the Ravens defense against the Patriots offense. Tom Brady tossed six touchdowns last weekend against Denver, and certainly is capable of tearing apart Baltimore’s secondary. However, if Baltimore’s front seven can pressure Brady, as well as control the time of possession on offense, then they’ll win the game. Yet, if New England can control the time of possession, and contain Rice, they’ll win.

San Francisco 24, New York 20  – I am not exactly the biggest fan of head coach Jim Harbaugh, but what he’s done in San Francisco has been rather impressive. Harbaugh revamped the 49ers defense to become one of the best in the league, and against Eli Manning, I’m expecting the front seven to not only pressure him, but also record two or three sacks, too. Alex Smith proved he’s a clutch quarterback, as he tossed three strikes to the end zone last weekend against New Orleans, which included the game winning touchdown to Vernon Davis. San Francisco handed New York a loss earlier this season, and once again, I am expecting them to defeat the Giants in the City By The Bay.

Noonan: NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Can Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos keep their playoff magic going on Saturday against New England? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Here are my predictions for the NFC Divisional Round.

New Orleans 30, San Francisco 21: The Saints cashed in on five offensive series in the second half against the Detroit Lions last weekend, and are expected to keep their high-flying offensive attack going against the 49ers on Saturday. Drew Brees clearly is on a mission, which is why I believe they’ll defeat San Francisco, and advance to the NFC Championship game for the second time in three seasons.

New England 28 – Denver 16: The story of Tim Tebow has been fascinating, but against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, I’m expecting him to struggle, and possibly throw two or three interceptions.

Baltimore 28 – Houston 21: Earlier this season, the Ravens defeated the Texans, 29-14. Joe Flacco completed 20-of-33 passes for 305 yards and one touchdown, while Billy Cundiff kicked five field goals. Can Baltimore duplicate their week five performance against Houston on Sunday? My answer… YES!

New York 24 – Green Bay 21: This is a total shot in the dark, but the Giants have gained a great deal of momentum over the past few weeks, and might have what it takes to knock out the defending NFC and Super Bowl champions. I like New York’s front seven on defense, especially since they could provide a great deal of chaos toward quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If the Giants pressure the Packers, and force a few turnovers, then expect Big Blue to walk away winners on Sunday.

Thanksgiving Football Prediction: Baltimore-San Francisco

Are you ready for the "Brother Battle" on Thanksgiving?

By Matt Noonan 

If the Ravens are going to be deemed one the best teams in the NFL, then they need to beat the 49ers on Thanksgiving.

Baltimore has struggled this year against under performing squads like Arizona, Jacksonville, and Tennessee, but has somehow managed to defeat Pittsburgh twice. The Ravens defense continues to impress and has held opponents to roughly 25 points per game and 344 offensive yards, as well as bailed out quarterback Joe Flacco too.

San Francisco’s offense has averaged roughly 26 points and 323 offensive yards per game, while quarterback Alex Smith has recorded 13 touchdowns and is on pace to match his career high from the ’09 season, (18 TDs). Running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have combined for seven rushing scores and 1,154 yards on the ground, so expect the 49ers offense to challenge a Ravens unit that will most likely be without linebacker Ray Lewis for the second straight week.

Finally, this matchup will also mark the first time in league history that two brothers, who’re head coaches, will face-off against one another.

FUN FACT – If San Francisco wins this holiday clash, it’ll be the first time the 49ers reached 10 wins since the ’02 season.

Prediction – Expect both squads to come out of the gates with loads of energy, but once it’s all said and done, I expect the Ravens to give their home crowd an early holiday present – their eighth win of the season. Baltimore 20 – San Francisco 14  

NFL Week Eight – Rapid Reactions/Thoughts

Ray Rice rushed for three scores against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, and helped his team rally to score 24-points in the second half!

By Matt Noonan 

It’s been a rather interesting season.

No one would have imagined that after roughly eight weeks, (excluding Monday’s game between Kansas City and San Diego), Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Detroit would be in contention for playoff spots.

Did anyone expect the Indianapolis Colts or Miami Dolphins to be winless, especially after eight weeks of the regular season?

Finally, who truly believed that Matt Hasselbeck and the Tennessee Titans were going to be a good team?

Again, it’s been quite an up-and-down season, but here are some rapid reactions and thoughts from Sunday’s slate, enjoy.

Philadelphia Runs Past Dallas’s Defense: Against the Cowboys defense, which was ranked first in the league against the run, the Eagles rushed for 239-yards and two scores thanks to LeSean McCoy, who finished the game with 185 yards on 30 carries, and quarterback Michael Vick, who added 50 yards on seven carries.

Indeed, Rob Ryan’s defense has experienced a great deal of success this season against the run, but perhaps a game like Sunday’s against the Eagles might help sure up the front seven for the remainder of the season.

Both squads are currently in a three-way tie for second place with Washington, and two games behind New York.

Blame Game – Bill Belichick:Against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick once again proved that he’s human.

In the fourth quarter, Belichick chose not to challenge a Rob Gronkowski catch, which appeared to be a touchdown. He also elected to attempt an onside-kick that completely failed.

In some ways, many fans might consider this the second coming of 4th-and-2 from ’09 against the Colts, but all in all, there’ll certainly be a lot of questions directed toward the field general on Monday at Gillette Stadium when he meets with the media.

Great Endings: Sunday featured some bizarre, yet interesting endings.

In Baltimore, running back Ray Rice finished the game with three touchdowns, and 63 yards on 18 carries, as the Ravens beat the Arizona Cardinals, 30-27. Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 31-of-51 passes for 336 yards, but didn’t toss a single touchdown.

In Carolina, Christian Ponder led the Minnesota Vikings down the field, and set up a Ryan Longwell field goal, which helped the “Purple People Eaters” defeat the Panthers, 24-21, as well as end snap a two-game losing streak.

In New Jersey, the New York Giants rallied to score 10-points during the final quarter to beat Miami, 20-17. Quarterback Eli Manning connected with wide receiver Victor Cruz on a 25-yard pass late in the final quarter, which secured the win for Big Blue.

Finally, in St. Louis, the Rams snapped their six-game losing streak by upsetting the New Orleans Saints, 31-21. Running back Steven Jackson rushed for 159 yards and two scores, while quarterback A.J. Feeley completed 20-of-37 passes for 175 yards and tossed one touchdown too. Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished the game with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Daily Noontime – October 26, 2011

Ben Cherington is in and Theo is out!

Happy Wednesday to everyone and welcome into another splendid edition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s some great news and notes to kick-start your day! 

Headlines: 

* The Boston Red Sox introduced the team’s new General Manager on Tuesday, Ben Cherington, while the Chicago Cubs named Theo Epstein their president of baseball operations.

* According to the Red Sox, John Lackey will undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow and will most likely not pitch again until the 2013 season.

* Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell has made it clear – he’s staying with his team, and won’t relocate to Boston or Chicago.

* Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and quarterback Joe Flacco admitted they both deserve the blame for Monday’s loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

* Apparently Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are interested in obtaining the Miami Dolphins head coaching job next season.

Games to Watch: 

* Philadelphia at Montreal (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern 

* Texas at St. Louis (MLB/World Series/ Game 6) – 8:05pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

What’s better – the broadcast or Hail Mary?