I don’t know what shocked me more last week in the Green Bay-Arizona game, the two unbelievably clutch throws made by Aaron Rodgers to Jeff Janis, the coin toss that didn’t flip, or Larry Fitzgerald‘s big time run to win the game, and put Arizona through to their first NFC Championship game since 2009. Either way, one’s thing for sure, that game was something I’ve never seen before, and something I’ll never see again, and after watching the Divisional games, I can’t wait to see what the Conference Championship games have in store. And they always seem to have something planned. Whether it being a missed field goal as the game expires, or a Richard Sherman game winning interception followed by a ranting post game interview, whatever it is, there’s always something. Besides the Super Bowl, the Conference Championship games have always been my favorite to watch, and I have a strong feeling the two games we have this year will both be exciting, down to the wire, nail biting games. As always, here’s how I think the games will go.
AFC Championship –
#2 New England Patriots vs #1 Denver Broncos
Ah.. Brady/Manning one more time, for old times sakes huh? Well I guess so, but this time it feels a helluva lot different. Peyton’s not the same Peyton he used to be, and Brady … well he’s still the same ass kicking Quarterback he’s always been. So I guess some thins aren’t that different. Obviously if the game was won by having the best Quarterback, New England would be moving on by the first quarter, but fortunately for the Broncos, that’s not how it works. All year long, Denver’s defense has played spectacular. So spectacular that it’s made the offense actually look pretty decent. Most likely the only way the Broncos will win this game is by their defense, along with a little help from their offense. Like I said in my latest article, “5 keys for the New England Patriots to beat Denver”, one of the only ways the Broncos can beat the Patriots is by their defense, most specifically their pass rush. If they get to Brady multiple times, they should have no problem beating New England. As for offense, if they can find success in running the ball they should be on the verge of a win. Easier said then done though. Let’s not forget that the Patriots have arguably the greatest Head Coach of all time, Bill Belichick, and chances are if a seventeen year old knows some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Denver Broncos, so does one of the smartest men in sports. Bill knows that in order to beat Denver, the Patriots are going to have to protect Tom Brady, and give him enough time to work his magic. On the other side they know they have to put pressure on Peyton to make uncharted decisions, and also put a stranglehold on the Broncos running attack, which found loads of success against the Patriots in their week 12 matchup, a game where the Broncos rushed for a total of 179 yards.
As good as Peyton Manning was, he’s only a shell of the man he used to be, and that could play a huge role in the deciding factor of this one. Denver’s defense is great, no question, but I don’t see them being good enough to beat the Patriots, seeing as Brady has all of his main weapons (Edelman, Gronkowski, Amendola) for this one. Quick stat, in Julian Edelman‘s last 23 games he’s started, the Patriots have gone 22-1. So he’s going to be a huge difference maker in this game. I do expect it to be a close contest, but at the end of the day it’s hard to pick against #12. Patriots go back to the Super Bowl, they beat the Broncos, 24-23.
Bold Prediction – New England’s defense saves the day as with less than two minutes left the Broncos are down a point and need to get into field goal territory. Peyton Manning’s last throw ever is an interception to Patriots free safety, Devin McCourty. Extra BOLD Prediction, Tom Brady has more rushing touchdowns than passing (2-1).
NFC Championship –
#2 Arizona Cardinals vs #1 Carolina Panthers
Originally when the Playoffs started I picked the Super Bowl to be New England and Arizona, but now I’m not too positive about that. Sure, Arizona had an impressive win over the Green Bay Packers last weekend, but they almost blew the game, on a number of occasions. Same thing with Carolina. They led Seattle 31-0 at halftime, but yet won by only a touchdown, by a score of 31-24. So in a way both team’s are on the same page. Only advantage being probably given here is the fact that Carolina’s the home team, and they’re playing at a place in which they rarely ever lose. In a way, both teams are very similar. Both haven’t really had tons of success in the past couple of years, seeing as the Panthers haven’t made it to a Conference Championship game since 2005, while Arizona hasn’t made it to one since 2009, the season where they went to the Super Bowl only to get beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers in what is known by some to be the best Super Bowl of all time. Both also have Heisman winning Quarterbacks who became first overall picks. Both have phenomenal defenses, exceptional offenses, well respected head coaches, loyal fans, and hearts of champions. It’s a shame one team’s hopes of being Super Bowl champ will have to be crushed this week. To me, I think this game’s going to come down to the better defense, and I see Arizona rising up to the occasion. Last weekend the Panthers played great defense in the first half versus Seattle, but they didn’t really play spectacular in the second half as we know. And to say the least, the offense wasn’t really clicking either. As for Arizona, their victory over the Green Bay Packers wasn’t necessarily a walk in the park. Let’s not forget how they were behind for most of that game, and how they could’ve easily been eliminated if it wasn’t for their veteran and hero receiver, Larry Fitzgerald.
I must admit before posting this article I couldn’t make up my mind on who I thought would win this game, but it’s hard for me to go against what I picked in the beginning of the playoffs, so in this game I’m taking the Arizona Cardinals. Like the AFC match, I believe it’ll be a close game, and possibly a game that will haunt Panthers nation for a while. Arizona wins, 31-24.
Bold Prediction – A dash of deja vu in this game, from last weeks Panthers-Seahawks game, and last years Packers-Seahawks playoff game. Carolina will be up big at halftime, let’s say something like 17-3 or 17-7, and in the second half it’s a completely different story. Carson Palmer will lead the Cardinals to an unbelievable come from behind win, pushing Arizona back to the big dance. Extra BOLD Prediction, Larry Fitzgerald– 2 Touchdowns, 200 receiving yards.
SUPER BOWL 50 according to me :
New England Patriots vs Arizona Cardinals
Haha, Thanks for reading, hopefully my predictions are right this week, enjoy the Conference Championship games, and be sure to check out my Super Bowl predictions article, next week!