With Super Bowl 48 a few weeks away, the stage is now set for Championship Sunday, on January 19, 2014. After the four Divisional Round games played this past weekend, it has come down to the final four. The final four teams left are: The New England Patriots, the Denver Broncos, The Seattle Seahawks, and the San Fransisco 49ers. On Championship Sunday, the Denver Broncos will face the visiting New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, and the Seattle Seahawks will face the San Fransisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game The winners of each championship game will face each other in the Super Bowl on February 2nd in my home state of New Jersey, at Met Life Stadium (I realize it’s the NY/NJ Super Bowl, but let me have a moment.) for the Lombardi Trophy.
This weekend’s Championship Sunday should be awesome. In the AFC, we have two teams lead by two first ballot Hall of Fame QBs in both Peyton Manning (Denver) and Tom Brady (New England). The two have a tremendous rivalry, where in 14 head to head match-ups (including playoffs), Brady leads Manning 10-14. In their playoff match-ups, Brady leads 2-1. I liken the rivalry to the famous Affirmed and Alydar rivalry where in 10 meetings Affirmed defeated Alydar 7 of the 10 times, including all three 1978 Triple Crown races. In this case, Brady’s Affirmed, and Peyton’s Alydar.
In the NFC, there is a budding rivalry, where NFL fans are seeing two up and coming QBs who are coming into their own. Colin Kaepernick of the San Fransisco 49ers, who lead the team to last year’s SB, looks to avenge the in season shellacking by the Seahawks, led by the young QB, Russell Wilson. Both these teams are anchored by two awesome defenses. What is great about this rivalry is that these two teams are from the same division (NFC West), and even the two head coaches don’t like each other. Jim Harbaugh (49ers) and Pete Carroll (Seahawks) have a bit of a feud going back to when they were college coaches.
As for my picks in my Divisional Round Blog, I went 3-1. I didn’t do too bad. I am glad I did do a lot better than in the Wild Card Round Blog. Yes, Denver and Peyton Manning fans, I whiffed on picking the San Diego Chargers. No one is right all the time.
In speaking of picks, in this blog, I am going to make my picks for the two Championship Sunday games. I hope that whether I am right or wrong, NFL fans will get to see two great games. Not only that, I hope fans will get to see two of the best teams that will give all of us NFL fans an awesome Super Bowl at Met Life Stadium on February 2nd.
I want to say that I know the NFL keeps giving us news 365 days a year. However,outside of the Pro Bowl, it is very sad to me that there are only three real games left. This season has been very interesting. I sure will miss it.
Without further ado, here are my picks for Championship Sunday, January 19, 2014:
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: The Denver Broncos vs the New England Patriots
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
When: 3:00PM, EST on CBS
Analysis: This game is going to be a battle of two AFC powerhouses. For the visiting New England Patriots, it is Tom Brady. For the Denver Broncos, it is Peyton Manning. The rivals meet again. These teams got here by two very different ways. The Broncos got here by setting offensive records, with the help of a pretty decent defense. Peyton Manning was a powerhouse all by himself, setting passing and TD records.
The Patriots got here by grinding out games. Tom Brady did not have a great year as far as stats, but he led his team which suffered major injuries, and had rookie receivers learning the offense. The Patriots had to find different ways to win. The team astounded the “experts,” every time they won.
Going into this game, I am going to expect the Patriots to not be as conservative with their offense as the Chargers were in the first half of the Divisional Playoff (the conservative play-calling by then Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt really hurt the Chargers’ chances). I expect the Patriots to throw, or run as the defense dictates. I also expect their running game, especially LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 4 TDs in the Divisional Round game against the Colts, to be effective, as I think their O line is better.
I do not think Tom Brady’s little flu bug will be much of a factor, as he is off the Patriots’ injury report. Even though Tom Brady didn’t throw a TD in the Divisional Round game, he threw some crucial first down throws. I also expect him to be “Tom Terrific” in this game. Bill Belichick will likely devise some sort of defensive scheme to take away Julius Thomas. The much maligned Patriot defense, including DB Devin McCourty, DE Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, etc., will be very competitive in this game.
On the other side, I am thinking Peyton Manning will try to exploit the middle of that Patriot defense. I am pretty sure we will be hearing him say “Omaha,” a million times. Of course, he will try to get the Patriot defenders off sides. Like Wes Welker did against the Chargers(Welker was selling that “contact” to draw that BS call like Edge sold against the Undertaker), I expect the Broncos receivers to sell any kind of contact to the officials to attempt to draw a flag. I mean, they could do something like try to catch the ball. I also expect Jack Del Rio to try to blitz Tom Brady, and try to bring pressure. I expect Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to attempt to make an impact also.
My Pick: I have been going back and forth between these two teams. It is very hard to pick between these two, because both are lead by two of the very best QBs EVER to put on a helmet. The chalk pick is The Denver Broncos. Vegas likes the Broncos. I think most people know that ESPN loves the Broncos (especially Peyton Manning).
Who do I like? Well, the beginning of the year, in my pre-season blog, I picked the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Despite all the ridicule I have personally taken, and despite hearing all the hating on the team from ESPN, NFL Network, and the Profootballtalk guys on that NBC Sports Network show, I have stuck to my guns. Whatever happens, I am sticking with my pick.
Winner: The New England Patriots
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: The Seattle Seahawks vs. the San Fransisco 49ers
Where: CenturyLink Field
When: 6:30PM, EST on FOX
Analysis: As Manning and Brady have a decade plus rivalry, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick are just starting out on theirs. The two have met three times, with Wilson ahead 2-1. However, this meeting is huge. This is for a trip to the Super Bowl, and for NFC Supremacy. I hope that both of these dual threat (both running and passing) QBs can show us NFL fans that they are the future of the NFL. I would like to finally see a game where both bring out the best in each other.
Russell Wilson and his Seahawks haven’t impressed me lately. Their vaunted defense did get run on by the Saints during some points in the game. Wilson didn’t throw a TD, but he didn’t need to, as Marshawn Lynch was a huge beast. Lynch was just unstoppable,but Russell did throw that crucial first down to pretty much ice the game. The Seattle defense did do their job overall. They limited Saints QB Drew Brees and the Saints Offense. The Saints did try to make a comeback, but it was no use.
The 49ers just overwhelmed Cam Newton and the Panthers. Cam Newton had no idea what to do when he kept getting sacked and hit by the 49ers’ pass rushers. Ahmad Brooks was awesome. It was one of his best games. Even though it was a penalty, that leap that Brooks did was fantastic. Kaepernick was awesome. I thought it was a little bush league to make fun of Newton’s “Superman” celebration, but evidently, the Panthers had made fun of Kaepernick’s celebration too at one time. The game was a hard hitting game. The 49ers deserved to win.
For this game, I am expecting a lot of hard hitting defense from both teams. This is a game where we are seeing two division rivals. The head coaches (Jim Harbaugh (49ers) and Pete Carroll (Seahawks)) have a personal feud going all the way back to college. The players (at least on the field) “hate” each other. I expect both sides to be barking at each other, especially that Seahawks DB Richard Sherman.
I don’t think we are going to get a ton of offense. I don’t know if the Seahawks are going to have WR Percy Harvin for the game, due to his concussion. Marshawn Lynch will be carrying the load for the Seahawks. RB Frank Gore, WR Michael Crabtree, and TE Vernon Davis will likely be targets for Kaepernick. All this depends on the game plan and how each defense plays.
My Pick: This game for me, is a bit easier than the other. I know the Denver crowd, and the altitude can be a factor, but they are NOTHING compared to Seattle’s “12th man.” The Seattle Seahawks have a home field advantage like no other. If this game were anywhere else, I might think about picking the 49ers. That is, IF this game were anywhere else.
My Pick: The Seattle Seahawks.
That is my blog. To all fans of these four teams: Good Luck.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan
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