After a 17-week schedule and two playoff rounds, the four best teams in the NFL are about to square off with a trip to the Meadowlands and the opportunity to participate in Superbowl XLVIII on the line.
I have a 6-2 record during the playoffs up to this point, with my only two losses involving the San Diego Chargers. I picked the Cincinnati Bengals to defeat the Chargers in the Wild-card round. Then, after San Diego pulled off the upset, I rode the wave of momentum and picked San Diego to upset the Denver Broncos.
Really? The Chargers beating the Broncos in Denver? Man, what was I thinking? OK, with that being said and without any further a due, let’s take a look at the matchups.
New England at Denver
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are preparing for their third-straight AFC championship game. Actually, for Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick, this contest will be their eighth AFC championship game in 12 years. That is a remarkable accomplishment.
New England advanced to the championship game by ousting Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts from the playoffs a week ago in Foxborough. The Patriots relied heavily on the running game to control the ball and the clock in the 43-22 victory of the Colts.
On the other side of the matchup, Peyton Manning and the Broncos dominated the San Diego Chargers on both sides of the ball. The game was not as close as the 24-17 score might indicate.
Manning as guided Denver to the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a prolific passing attack that has simply shattered records this season.
The Broncos are five and a half point favorites against the Patriots. This game could simply go either way. However, when it’s all said and done, I’ll take the Patriots on the road 38-34.
San Francisco at Seattle
This game is very interesting. San Francisco seems to be hitting its stride at the most opportune time of the season. However, the 49ers last two trips to Seattle didn’t bode well as the Bay-area team was outscored by 55 points in those two contests.
San Francisco beat Green Bay at Lambeau field before taking down the second seeded Carolina Panthers a week ago.
The Seahawks have arguably the biggest home field advantage in sports today. Seattle rarely loses at home as the New Orleans Saints found out last week.
Seattle also has arguably the best defense in the league with San Francisco also in the mix. Bottom line — this game is going to be a physical contest with bone-crushing hits, extra curricular activity and more than a few players are probably going to be fined by the NFL for questionable plays and decisions.
The Seahawks are three and a half point favorites over the 49ers. I believe the game is going to be closer than the spread suggest. I am taking Seattle over San Francisco 21-20.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or on Twitter @crslone.