This is the best Sunday of football. Hell, it’s
probably the best Sunday of the year! Four teams vying for a shot to play in the Super Bowl. You couldn’t have scripted it better this year as there are a thousand fascinating storylines. But it basically boils down to this:
Brady v. Manning. Kaepernick v. Wilson
New England at Denver (-5.5)
The line on this game hasn’t sit well with me…..or the public, as 81% of the money has come in on NE….all week. Belichick and Brady in an outdoor AFC conference championship against an opponet they are all to familiar with and already beat once this year and you’re spotting them a TD?!
The Week 12 matchup between these two teams….which saw NE win on an overtime field goal…seems like an eon ago. Since then, Von Miller blew out his knee, pot became legal in Colorado and Peyton Manning and Papa John built a DeLorean! That game was one of the wackiest all year. The Broncos stormed out to 24-0 halftime lead. Game-flow combined with a Patriots defensive scheme that dared Denver to run the ball resulted in Knowshon Moreno toting the ball 37 times for 224 yards and 1 rushing TD. We won’t see that kind of workload again. I also doubt we’ll see Manning throw for less than 150 yards, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker held to 4 catches each or Eric Decker held to 1 catch.
New England has changed their identity a bit since then too. They’ve featured a balanced offense, with a power-running attack lead by LeGarrette Blount….with a name like that, nevermind. Julian Edlemen and Danny Amendola are nightmare matchups for most slot corners. New England won’t have a problem moving the ball on Denver’s defense. I’d expect the Patriots to follow San Diego’s Week 14 blueprint (the same blueprint San Diego couldn’t follow last week) of ball control, time-of-possession offense while trying to rattle Manning with pressure on defense. Easier said than done.
This game will truly be chess match and could really loom large in defining the Brady-Manning Rivalry.
When the dust settles, I really think Denver has much more firepower than New England. I think Denver wins, but there is no way I’m beating against Brady and Belichick, I’ll gladly take the points.
Prediction: Denver 31, NE 26
San Francisco @ Seattle (-3.5)
The first game is going to look like a hugfest compared to this game. The coaches hate each other, the fans hate each other and the players really hate each other. I can’t wait for the glorious Anquan Bolden- Richard Sherman matchup. Bolden absolutely bullied and abused the Carolina secondary last week which really set the tone for that entire game. He actually lost mind a few times and should have been flagged for head-butting on at least one occasion. He’d better keep his cool because it wouldn’t surprise me if the ref’s paid extra attention to him this week.
These teams split their games against each other this year, with the home team winning each game. If I have to listen to somebody tell me that the fans caused a mini-earthquake on the Beastmode run against the Saint a few years back I’m going to vomit. Sure, it’s loud. And it’s a tough place to play but the Niners aren’t going to be rattled. They are far more dynamic on offense than the Seahawks. The Niners should be adopting a Greg Williamesque mantra when it comes to beating Seattle: “Kill the Beastmode and the body will follow”.
I’ll gladly take Kaepernick + Harbaugh + 3.5.
Prediction: 49ers 19, Seattle 17