The Infallible NFL Championship Weekend Preview

As the season winds down it seems the last teams standing may very well be those that can avoid major injuries and/or have the depth to sustain those injuries. Another crazy slew of games took place with near game-changing no-calls turned desperation passes for wild finishes. It’s tough to say whether particular games lived up to the hype and which ones perhaps surpassed them. This week is set up to be interesting if unspectacular. But the one thing we’ve learned thus far is to expect the unexpected. Here we go:

Where will see a bunch of this come Sunday.
Where will see a bunch of this come Sunday.

New England at Denver. To say the Pats have done it in an ugly manner would be nice, but New England has gotten the job done one way or another with the immeasurable experience of Tom Brady. And while it’s tough to say this game is going to be a throwback battle between Peyton and Tom is a stretch. Then again, it’s tough to think it will come down to anything more. Brady will be forced to utilize Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski to the max potential because the one big advantage the Broncos have is their defense. On the flip side, Manning really needs to play smart because he can’t just rip big throws all over the field anymore. But the Patriots’ defense has their weaknesses and the running game has been the best part of the offense since Peyton has come back. With the kind of talent that receivers Demauryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have (and the depth behind them), Manning should do better. But CJ Anderson is finally getting the touches that were promised to him in the preseason and that’s the key to Denver’s success. I sense late game drama yet again. Broncos 31, Patriots 27

There's a reason even NFL MVP Cam Newton is in awe of Luke Kuechly.
There’s a reason even NFL MVP Cam Newton is in awe of Luke Kuechly.

Arizona at Carolina. It doesn’t matter what happens after this game. The AFC rep could win in the Super Bowl and it wouldn’t mean much. The NFC has been the better conference at the top of the league the entire year and this is the de facto Super Bowl whether you like it or not. And unfortunately it’s not being played at a neutral site because the location may well make a difference. Most importantly, though, is Cam Newton and a Panther defense that has been phenomenal. The Panthers have experienced their fair share of late game letdowns this season. And while those situations didn’t inevitably lead to losses, this game may very well come down to the wire for that very reason. But this is the best defense I have seen since the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Newton is a way better player than Trent Dilfer ever was and the run game isn’t as steady as it was with Jamal Lewis, but the defense is every bit as effective considering how dramatically the league has changed since. Carson Palmer got a playoff win and showed grit even in the face of two REALLY BAD throws that kept points off the board. Will Greg Olsen beat the secondary of the Cardinals? That’s where I see this going. Panthers 23, Cardinals 21

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