Championship Sunday

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Eagles

It’s championship weekend in the NFL and both games are shaping up to be remembered for a long time.

In the AFC Championship, it is another installment of perhaps the best quarterback duel in the 2000’s as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. In the NFC Championship, it’s the third round of a heavyweight fight between rivals as the Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers.

Either game could go either way, so let’s take a look at the two matchups:

AFC Championship:
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

afc-championship-preview-header

It’s another installment of Brady vs. Manning in the AFC Championship game and this time Peyton Manning has a new team and new weapons. Tom Brady, meanwhile, leads a young group of recievers into Denver in hopes of making a 6th trip to the Super Bowl.

Why the Patriots can win:

As easy as it is to hate them, it is hard to pick against them. Brady and Belichick have been here before and know what it takes to win whether they are the favorite or the underdog. They made good use of their running game in the Divisional Round against the Indianapolis Colts. That running game accounted for all six touchdowns while Tom Brady completed 13 of 25 passes for an un-Brady-like 198 yards and 0 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Pats D gave Colts quarterback Andrew Luck nightmares, intercepting him four times.

It also doesn’t hurt that there is a lot more pressure on the Broncos, more specifically Peyton Manning, than the Patriots. Brady has topped Manning in the cold weather before and it could very well happen again.

Why the Broncos will win:

The Broncos lost to the Patriots in their Week 12 match up 34-31 in Foxborough. Peyton Manning has a lot to prove this Sunday. In his career, Manning is 2-1 in three AFC Championship Games, all with the Colts. Two of those wins came against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

The Broncos are coming off of a big win against the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional Round that saw them halt a comeback attempt by the Chargers to preserve a 24-17 win. The defense also did well halting San Diego’s run game, limiting Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews to a combined 55 yards and 0 touchdowns. As explosive as the Patriots running game was against the Colts last week, it’s hard to see them repeating that performance against the Broncos. However, the Broncos should also be aware of the Patriots passing game.

The Verdict:

Peyton Manning has a lot of pressure on him, but he also has a lot to prove. The Patriots running game has gotten them this far, but that alone is not enough to get past the Broncos. The Pats passing game has to be better too, which I expect it to be. The Broncos lost to the Patriots in Foxborough, but they won’t in Denver on Sunday.

31-27 Broncos

NFC Championship 
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

nfc-championship-preview-header

The San Francisco 49ers will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in the NFC Championship. This will be the third meeting of the season for the two teams and, like the previous two meetings, there will be no love lost by the NFC West rivals. The Seahawks won the first meeting in Seattle in Week 2 29-3 and the 49ers won the second meeting in Week 14 in San Francisco 19-17.

Howevver, this is no ordinary rubber match

Why the 49ers can win:

The 49ers have been in the last two NFC Championship games and were victorious last year on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. Not to mention they have won their last two games on the road winning in the frozen tundra of Green Bay (where the temperature was 5 degrees at kick off with a wind chill of -10) and the moderately cold Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers.

It’s awfully hard to pick against Colin Kaepernick. He has not put up spectacular numbers in the first two rounds, but he has performed best when it mattered most. The 49ers defense has also done well stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense as well as Cam Newton and the Panthers offense. If there is any team that can upset the Seahawks at home it’s the 49ers. they know this Seahawks team better than any other team in the league.

Why the Seahawks will win:

Every team is at an advantage when they are playing at home, but no home-field advantage compares to Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. The stadium itself is designed so that the sound waves are deflected off of the roofs covering the fans back down onto the field. The stadium even set a Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium when it reached 137.6 decibels, almost as lout as a jet engine 100 feet away (140 decibels).

Aside from the stadium, the team that plays there has used that advantage to win all but one of their home games this season. Unfortunately, the high energy Seahawks offense was not seen very often against the Saints. The key offensive player in last week’s win was running back Marshawn Lynch, who totaled 140 yards and two touchdowns. However, that was about it for the Seahawks offense. Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 9 of 18 passes for a measly 103 yards and 0 touchdowns. However, they have had a week to regroup and will look to come out firing on Sunday afternoon.

The Verdict: 

This will be a slugfest in every sense of the word. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman put it best. “There will be no love lost, and there will be no love found.” The Seahawks are nearly un-stoppable at home and you can rest assured that the 12th man will be present and accounted for. However, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing game has to be better than they were last week. The 49ers aren’t going down without a fight and it is sure to be an instant classic. Expect points to come at a premium for both teams. At the end of the day, this simple equation will explain the NFC Championship:

Beast mode + Seahawks D + 12th Man = A trip to the Meadowlands.

28-24 Seahawks. 

One thing is for sure, it is slated to be another Sunday of great football for NFL fans everywhere. The AFC Championship kicks off at 3 pm on CBS followed by the NFC Championship at 6:30 on FOX.

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