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NFL championship weekend will be Pats-Ravens, Packers-Saints

I had a rough weekend picking the wild-card round.

I had too many outside influences on my choices.

Fantasy football leagues, home teams, allegiances all came into play.

I've eliminated all the outside factors this week.

It's time to bounce back.

Saints at 49ers:

Classic matchup between great offense and great defense. The Niners are at home and on grass, which should slow down the Saints, but I don't see how Alex Smith can lead San Fran past Drew Brees and the Saints.

If the Niners are to win, the defense will need some turnovers and probably score at least one touchdown.

The Saints are just too much.

Saints 27, 49ers 16

Giants at Packers:

Don't look now, but the Giants defense on a roll. They will face a serious test against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but they are peaking at the right time.

Will it be enough? I don't think so.

All season, Rodgers and Co. have come through, putting up the points when needed.

The Giants might shut down the Packers for a quarter or two, but the Pack could put up 21 points in one quarter for it to be enough.

Packers 31, Giants 23.

Broncos at Patriots:

Yes, we've all heard enough about Tim Tebow.

On paper, the Patriots should roll to a win. But in my gut, it says go with Tebowmania.

I should. But I can't.

The Patriots have a terrible defense, but the Tom Brady-led offense should be enough to stop the hype machine of Tebow.

But, if it's close, and Denver has a chance to win at the end ... don't be surprised if Tebow does it again.

I won't.

Patriots 33, Broncos 24

Texans at Ravens:

The other playoff games feature great offenses. This one will feature just great defenses.

The Texans' defense is better, but the Ravens are at home and have a playoff-tested quarterback in Joe Flacco.

I don't have to like it, but I'll take the Ravens.

Ravens 20, Texans 16


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His pass in Super Bowl XL helped clinch the Steelers' fifth Lombardi.

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The Post-Gazette's story was a grabber, with Randle El saying he wouldn't play football if he could do it over again.

Here's a quote:

The kids are getting bigger and faster, so the concussions, the severe spinal cord injuries, are only going to get worse. It’s a tough pill to swallow because I love the game of football. But I tell parents, you can have the right helmet, the perfect pads on, and still end up with a paraplegic kid. There’s no correcting it. There’s no helmet that’s going to correct it. There’s no teaching that’s going to correct it. It just comes down to it’s a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week.
He played football for nine seasons. Now he worries ab…