Who will you be rooting for in the NFC Championship Game?
Raj: I will be rooting for San Francisco. I realize that in terms of simplicity, the Falcons would be an "easier" team for the Patriots. However, I think both teams pose a big threat. The 49ers are a slightly tougher threat but I know that New England can beat this team again. A known devil (San Francisco) is always better than an unknown devil (Atlanta). I'd like one more shot at revenge on the biggest stage in American sports.
Stephen: Once again, this comes down to rooting for an easier matchup vs. the better storyline. And again, I'm going for No. 2. I'd love to see the Pats get another shot at the 49ers, this time on the biggest stage. New England nearly completed a furious comeback against San Fran on Monday Night Football, so putting the stamp on the season with a win over the best team in the NFC would be one hell of way to end the year.
Jason: I'll be rooting for the 49ers, no doubt. The Atlanta passing game would be terrifying even if the Patriots had an above average secondary. Unless Matt Ryan dies, they'd be putting up points with impunity. Make no mistake — the Falcons could beat the Pats. Even in losing the game against the 49ers, the Patriots looked like the better team by a wide margin. Unless the 49ers somehow manage to recover every fumble and get help from the refs, I don't think they beat the Pats.
Derek: Last year, I wanted a piece of the Giants. I thought we'd have a better shot against Alex Smith than a streaking Eli Manning, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a legendary Patriots victory and revenge for Super Bowl XLII.
We all know how that turned out. While I still think that I was right for not shying away from potential greatness, this year I have a slightly different take. I just want to win. Beating San Francisco would be slightly more gratifying than beating Atlanta, given what happened in Week 15. However, I think Atlanta gives the Patriots the best shot for hoisting the Lombardi. The Niners are too similar to the Giants, Ravens, and 2009/2010 Jets, and could cause serious trouble for the Patriots. I'll take my chances with Atlanta's passing game if it means that Brady can avoid getting nailed by Aldon Smith and Justin Smith all evening. The final score may be 83-79 in a New England/Atlanta Super Bowl, but I think the Pats would come out on top.