2016 NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championships

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New England Patriots at Denver Broncos.  This is awesome.  Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, Part 17.  Sure, I know Brady has essentially owned Manning, especially in the playoffs.  And yes, I know Manning’s arm is essentially a glorified noodle, while Brady is STILL going strong.  And yes, the Patriots are favored by many to win this game.

So why should we still watch?

The Broncos have the best defense in football.  It’s always fascinating to watch the best D in the NFL go against one of the most efficient offenses, especially with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

Brady essentially uses the short passing games as runs, with Julian Edelman at times turning 4 yard slants into 12-yard gains.  And of course there is the “Gronk factor”.  Rob Gronkowski cannot be stopped, he can only be contained.  Just how the Broncos’ D can contain him is a huge key.

As much as I would love to see Manning pull out a win that would make the ultimate redemption story, many people do not think it will happen.

But I do.

The Pats had key personnel on defense leave last week’s game and not return.  If they do not have the horses to stop Denver’s running game and Demaryius Thomas, it’s going to be a long day for the Pats.

Look for the Broncos do enough on offense and defense to help send Manning to the Super Bowl in what may be his last season.  It will be a beauty to watch…  Broncos 20, Patriots 17.

NFC

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers.  This may be considered the undercard of the two conference championship matchups, but this is still intriguing to me.  This is another classic “great offense (Cardinals) vs. great defense (Panthers)” matchup.

The biggest question to me is how Arizona’s high-octane offense will perform in the harsh cold environment in Charlotte.  Lots of snow fell in Charlotte from the blizzard that is smacking the hell out of the east coast, and the temperature of the game will be in the 30s.

We all know the Panthers’ D will come out to play, but will they be able to hold a lead THIS time with a Super Bowl berth on the line?  Will Cam Newton put on a show that validates his MVP award?

I think the Panthers will win this game, on the strength of them playing at home.  It will be a good one, but man home-field advantage is something else…  Panthers 24, Cardinals 20.

Postseason record to date
Last week: 4-0
Overall: 6-2

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