Only two weeks of the NFL are left (besides the Pro Bowl) and Zito and myself are back once again with our playoff picks! We are currently tied with our picks but anything can happen at any given week so we’re going to continue on through the Super Bowl to see who will win the bragging rights between us. On to more important matters, this week was very tough to pick. The top 2 teams in each conference are playing each other and that makes it hard enough. Add in the Brady/Manning rivalry and the two hottest teams in the NFL and it makes everything a lot tougher. As tough as it was, here are our Conference championship picks:
Last week: Scott: 1-3 (4-4 overall)
Zito: 2-2 (4-4 overall)
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos
Scott’s Pick: New England. What some people fail to realize, is that just because the Broncos defense is that dominant, doesn’t mean that they are invulnerable. The Patriots scored 27 points and didn’t commit one turnover against the Chiefs who have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Now that Edelman proved he’s back and healthy and Gronk is still as dominant as ever, the Patriots look like they have returned to Super Bowl form. The only thing that can potentially hold back the Patriots back is their banged up offensive line and backfield, which had 38 total rushing yards last week. A win is a win, especially in the playoffs, but the Broncos barely squeaked by the Steelers who didn’t even have their all-pro wide receiver, Antonio Brown. The Broncos have had too many struggles on offense. The only part of their offense that I have been impressed with is their running game. Statistically, they aren’t great, but Anderson and Hillman are a good pair and can go off for 100 yards during any given game. Peyton Manning didn’t do that bad last week but he wasn’t spectacular either. If you exclude the drops committed by the Broncos receivers, Manning would’ve done really well, but that’s IF they didn’t drop any. The Patriots are too good and a much better football team than the Broncos and that will definitely show on Sunday in the AFC Championship.
Zito’s Pick: New England.
We will witness yet another Manning vs Brady matchup come Sunday afternoon. Historically, Brady owns the field when facing off against Manning and I don’t expect that to change. The Broncos cut it a little close last week and won another game due to big plays made on the defense while the offense underperformed. Manning looked good against the Steelers but his receivers failed to show up. With Denver, it seems to be either the wide receivers show up or Manning doesn’t, or vice-versa. They have failed to establish any solid front on the offensive side of the ball leaving it up to the defense to win the games, which in some cases is a good strategy but not good enough to win the Super Bowl, or better yet, win the AFC title game. Tom Brady will have all of his weapons back come Sunday which is dangerous for any caliber defense. Gronk is near impossible to cover, and Edelman is a tier 1 receiver when he holds on the ball. James White has proved himself a valuable asset out of the backfield to split snaps with Jackson. The Patriots are great in the post season and have all of the weapons on offense to continue on to the Super Bowl. The Patriots defense also holds their own especially in big games. I think Brady tops Manning once again for another shot at the Lombardi trophy.
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers
Scott’s Pick: Carolina. As much as I have been praising the Cardinals all year and in the post season, I just can’t pick them this week against Cam Newton and the Panthers. Newton can just make so much out of so little and has made that work all season and last week he even led his team to beat the reigning NFC champions, the Seattle Seahawks. Jonathon Stewart came back from injury stronger than ever, rushing for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns. With the Panthers having this many weapons on offense and with Luke Kuechly returning interceptions for touchdowns like it’s his job, this team looks scary. The Cardinals on the other hand, are still a very good football team and should not be taken lightly. They still have an amazing receiving core, with the likes of Fitzgerald, Floyd, Brown, Nelson, and Johnson out of the backfield. Carson Palmer has exceeded expectations this year as a top 5 quarterback in the NFL and their defense is also very good, being led by Patrick Peterson. I will officially pick the Panthers to go to the Super Bowl, but, do not be surprised if the Cardinals beat the Panthers in Carolina. This is the game we have all been hoping for as football fans and now is the game we have all been waiting for. This should be one of the best showdowns we will see in postseason history.
Zito’s Pick: Carolina.
The first post season game in which a QB taken first over all from each team will face off. Carson vs Newton, the top two MVP candidates will matchup with what I believe to be the two best teams in the NFL. I have been waiting for this game all year. Heck, if it could be, I would rather see these two teams face off in the Super Bowl believing they are both superior to the Patriots and Broncos. Unfortunately, only one team gets to move on. The Panthers are hot again, and nobody wants to defend against a Cam Newton led offense when he is firing on all cylinders. Newton has a great connection with Greg Olsen which will be key to moving the ball on Saturday. Arizona has what looks like the most complete team in the league when playing well. They have a great defense, as well as offense when they show up to play. They have lacked on the offensive side of the ball their past few games with Palmer making some bonehead decisions. If the Cardinals offense gets rolling they will make it tough for Carolina to walk away with the win. Even if the Cardinals play great I don’t see them topping the Panthers. Carolina is hot, it’s hard not to bet against them. Carolina tops Arizona to advance to the Super Bowl.
Tune in next week for my final “Picks” article for the NFL. It is also going to be mine and Zito’s Super Bowl picks. Also, comment down below any suggestions or opinions you may have about the article and who you may have chosen in your AFC/NFC Championship picks. Share this article with your friends as well, and see what they think of it! Thank you, and I’m also proud to announce that soon I will hopefully be starting my very own podcast! With your support, it can become a reality.
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