NFL Playoffs: AFC & NFC Championship Picks

And then there were four.  After the divisional round, the top 2 seeds in the NFC, the Seahawks and Packers will do battle for the right to play in the Superbowl.  On the AFC side, the Patriots will take on the Colts after a clear passing of the torch.

How did we get here?

The Packers were the first to secure a final four spot when Aaron Rodgers played through an injury to lift his team over the the Dallas Cowboys.  Both teams went over 100 yards on the ground, but Eddie Lacy ran for 22 more than the NFL league leader in DeMarco Murray.  Tony Romo was out-passed by nearly 130 yards and a TD.  The turning point was a 1st and goal catch by Dez Bryant that was overturned with 4 minutes to go in the game on 4th down.  They were down 5, and who’s to say the Packers don’t stop the TD on the goal line?  But the Cowboys weren’t given a chance when it was ruled Bryant didn’t complete the process of the catch to the ground.

Then we saw the Carolina Panthers run end when they went into 12th man territory. The big play was was when Kam Chancellor returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory in the 4th in a game that saw Seattle never trail. The Seahawks became the first reigning Superbowl Champ to win a playoff game since the Pats did so in 2006.

NFC Championship

  • Packers @ Seahawks: This is the game I thought we would see before the season.  And honestly, I think this match-up could be better than whatever turns into the final Superbowl.  Why?  Because you get the reigning champs playing the possible MVP.  You get the best home QB in the league playing on the road in the best home field advantage in football.  It’s a rematch of the season opener, a Seattle blowout at home and the reason why Green Bay didn’t get home-field as both teams finished with identical 12-4 records.  That will not happen again this time around. Aaron Rodgers calf injury is a concern, as is Eddie Lacy’s, but I still think this is the team that can go into Seattle and upset the reigning champs. Rodgers showed he could put this team on his back time and again.  This is going to be fun, and probably the better game of the day, but this is my reach pick, and I’m sticking with the my preseason pick of Packers over Seahawks for the right to play in the superbowl. GREEN BAY WINS

AFC Championship

  • Colts @ Patriots: New England is one win away from the Superbowl… again.  Remember when everyone thought they were done early in the season? They’ll play host to the Colts in a rematch of the 2006 AFC Championship game, except for one very big difference.  His counterpart at QB isn’t Peyton Manning, but the heir apparent in Indy, Andrew Luck. Indianapolis’ defense stepped up on the road, limiting the passing game of the Broncos.  The Patriots need to look to exploit their run defense however, which was the best part of Denver’s offense a week ago. Joe Flacco had his way with the Pats secondary as well, so look for Luck to have more success with deep passes in addition to his stellar short game.  Tom Brady has been here many times before, which is why I would say he has more to lose than the Colts in this game.  The Pats have been eliminated in this round the past two seasons and haven’t won on in a decade.  Indy continues to trend upward under Luck, so while they of course want to advance, but this was a great season no matter what happens Sunday.  Don’t forget that the Pats have blew out the Colts the past 3 meetings, including a 22-point victory in November. I want to pick Indianapolis, but I think it’s time for New England to make a reappearance in the big one.  It’ll be close.  NEW ENGLAND WINS
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NFL: Divisional Round Picks

Round 2 is upon us… and the Cardinals, Steelers, Bengals and Lions are no long in playoff contention.  The first round was nothing short of boring, with flags being picked up, a road win for the Ravens and big games from the game winning QBs.

I went in the 2-2 in first round.

Saturday Games

  • Baltimore @ New England: The Ravens showed us once again they aren’t afraid to go on the road in the playoffs.  This is the first postseason match-up between these two since Baltimore defeated New England in the 2012 AFC Championship game during their run to winning the Superbowl.  The Patriots are well-rested coming off their bye week, and look to make it back to a 4th straight Conference championship.  Tom Brady and company finished with the best record in the AFC, but numbers wise these two teams are very similar.  The Pats finished 12th in total offense, the Ravens at 13th.  New England’s defense isn’t top 10 like Baltimore, while Brady out passed Flacco in the regular season.  This is going to be a tough game, and I don’t see it being very high scoring.  Baltimore has a huge advantage on the ground and have to exploit that.  But many doubted Brady early on when they got off to a slow start (for them) and I won’t do that here.  He knows this defense well, and will want revenge for that 2012 knockout.  Give me the top seed to advance in this one. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Panthers @ Seahawks: Two top 10 defenses clash in this NFC battle. Carolina is hot, winners of 5 straight games, playing like the team that made the playoffs a season ago.  Seattle is rested, and look to continue their top rated defense and get a lot out their 9th ranked offense. This won’t be as easy for the Seahawks to win as Carolina’s round 1 win, but I do think the defending champs will get the win.  Proof of that came in their week 8 game, a 13-9 defensive struggle that went the way of the Hawks.  I don’t think this one will be as low scoring as both offenses are in better shape, but the 12th man will be out in force, and this Seattle team is playing like a Superbowl champion looking to repeat.  SEATTLE WINS

Sunday Games

  • Cowboys @ Packers: Two 12 win regular season teams meet up in cold Lambeau this weekend.  Dallas played well in their win over Detroit, but they also benefited from some missed calls including a flag that was picked up on PI that would’ve put the Lions close to the red zone. Aaron Rodgers and company had a week to rest, and now they look to take advantage of their home-field advantage and their 8-0 home record. Dallas did play well on the road, going 8-0 away from home.  So what gives?  There are MVP candidates on both sides, both QBs are hot, and both have capable run games. This is going to be fun, but I think this is comes down to which team I like in big spots, and Aaron Rodgers knows how to come up big in big games, and he has been unbelievable at home.  I think that continues.  GREEN BAY WINS
  • Colts @ Broncos: Before the season, I had this game as a possible AFC Championship game. I love what I saw from the Colts on offense in their win over the Bengals, especially getting Dan Herron and the ground game involved early. Denver is getting used to being here, so a week off did them and their aging QB good.  This could be a shoot out with both high powered offenses, but the biggest change to the Broncos from last season to this is their improvement on defense.  So give me a big stop late at home by Denver, not to mention I think we’re destined for another Brady-Manning match-up. DENVER WINS