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Saturday, January 18, 2014

NFL Playoff Predictions: Conference Championships

The NFL Conference Championships are here.  This is the round of the playoffs that gave us The Catch, The Drive and The Fumble.  The match-ups we have this weekend are tailor-made to provide new additions to NFL lore.  Last weekend, Wild Banshee was 3-1 on predictions.  That brings my overall record to 6-2 for the playoffs.  Here is who I think will advance to the Super Bowl.

New England at Denver:  Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EST on CBS.  This is a match-up made in TV-ratings heaven.  Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, will be playing for a spot in the Super Bowl.  But football, perhaps more than any other sport, is a team game.  And the team that surrounds Peyton Manning at this point in the season is superior to the team that surrounds Tom Brady.  Bill Belichick has performed miracles with his injury-riddled Patriots defense.  But, unlike last weekend against the Colts, the Patriots will not be be able to spend all their energy concentrating on stopping just one or two players.  The Broncos have a dazzling array of receivers for Manning to throw to.  The Broncos are also ready, willing and able to run the football.  The Patriots should be able to have some success in the running game, as well.  But, in the end, the Bronco's offensive firepower will be too much for the Patriots to handle.  Peyton Manning will get a chance to win his second Super Bowl ring in his brother's home stadium.  Denver: 35-24.

San Francisco at Seattle:  Sunday at 6:30 p.m. EST on FOX.  We've seen an offensive explosion in the NFL over the last few years.  But this is going to be an old-school, throwback style game.  These are two teams that like to run the football and pride themselves on physical defense.  These two teams have already played each other twice this season.  Each team won on their own home field.  The rubber match will be played in Seattle.  The Seahawks' offense was not a thing of beauty last weekend against the Saints, but the defense held the explosive Saints to a mere fifteen points.  The Niners have been better on offense since Michael Crabtree returned to the lineup in Week 13, but they are still not a team that should strike fear into the heart of the Seahawks.  The Niners were able to put up twenty points last weekend at Carolina.  But, the Seahawks secondary is far superior to that of the Panthers.  In the preseason, I picked the Seahawks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  I'm not going to back away from that now.  Seattle: 20-17.

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