|Picture says it all: who brings the real fire? Who's got the true killer instinct?|
AFC Championship: New England at Denver
So in my 2015-2016 playoff predictions I correctly picked this championship matchup, but after watching the games this past weekend, I’m changing my pick: I’m picking the Pats.
My rationale (which has a funny way of going out the window when the two teams actually take the field): despite the home field advantage, Denver’s defense doesn’t impress me. Before the playoffs began I was well aware that this is no great defense, not like the 2013 Seahawks. But last week, without Antonio Brown, without Le'Veon Bell, without his capable backup, DeAngelo Williams, a banged-up Big Ben and their 3rd RB on the depth chart piled up 396 yards on the Burros. It took a crucial 4th quarter fumble for Denver to escape with a win.
With LT Sebastian Vollmer back in the fold, I think Brady and McDaniels will attack Denver through the air with a thousand-cuts, 40-50 pass attempts approach. I think their offense will put up more than 20 points—and that should be enough to put down the Caballitos.
This may be the last time Brady and Manning’s teams face off. (Here's a link to ESPN's Ultimate Brady-Manning Quiz; I scored 8 out of 10!) Right now, Manning may have greater regular season stats but I’d still take Brady any day, especially an elimination game. Like my buddy J-Oro wrote in his conference championship game picks, Brady is this generation's Joe Montana. From my vantage, Manning has always seemed like a more emotionally brittle QB than Brady; too many elements have to be rolling on offense for him to succeed and when they don’t he’s far more likely to implode. Just go back to the second play of Super Bowl 48. In retrospect, Manning and—subsequently—his team, never psychologically recovered from that safety. Put Brady in that situation and I think Denver would still be in the game because he turns to pissed-off anger when his back’s against the wall instead of cowering like Manning tends to when facing a stout defense in pressured situations.
NFC Championship: Arizona at Carolina
Boy was I wrong about that Seattle vs. Carolina game! Obviously, Carolina’s offensive and defensive lines really impressed me in the first half of that last game. On the flip side, Carson Palmer played like a guy who was 0-2 in the playoffs and desperate to not lose (which is different than winning) a game at home in the Divisional Round. He looked really shaky in the 2nd half of their game against Green Bay.
I’m taking Carolina for this game:
- Their home crowd was deafening last week.
- I trust Cam more than Palmer in a high-pressure game.
- And football is almost always won in the trenches. Carolina should put together a more complete game this week.
However, the Cards best chance to pull off the upset is for their defensive line to have a monster game. If they can shut down Carolina’s running game, the game shifts to Carolina’s receivers vs. the Card’s secondary, and that should be a very favorable matchup for Arizona. At some point or another, you figure Carolina's lack of talent at that skill position will catch up to them...
|Cam throwing some dumbshit-choad's 12th Man flag: I wholeheartedly approve|