Saturday, January 23, 2016

NFL PLAYOFFS - AFC and NFC Championship Game Previews

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning meet again with a trip to SB50 on the line.
The New England Patriots will be defending their Super Bowl title on Sunday when they go against the Denver Broncos for the AFC championship.
The two teams met two years ago (in Denver as well) with the Broncos winning,  26-16 to earn the trip to Super Bowl 48, where they lost to Seattle.
That was then and this is now.
The Tom Brady-Peyton Manning saga is getting huge play once again as the two veteran quarterbacks get ready to face off for the 17th time in their Hall-of-Fame careers. Brady holds a 11-5 advantage, but the pair are 2-2 against each other in the post-season.
The Patriots seem to be back in gear on offense after getting back several key players from injuries for the passing game. Brady is a master at exploiting enemy defenses with the various schemes the team employs.
Meanwhile, Manning has been less than stellar this season with foot injuries slowing him down big time. He seems to be a shell of his former self from the glory years. However, do not dismiss the fact that Manning led the big touchdown drive last week against Pittsburgh to help the Broncos to the win.
All in all, expect a slugfest between these two teams with the Denver defense being ranked number-one (yardage) as well as ranking among the best in points allowed. The key for Denver will be getting pressure on Brady while Manning must limit mistakes and keep longer drives going to keep the Patriots offense off the field.

Over in the NFC, the top two teams from that conference will battle it out in Carolina as the Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals, who defeated the stubborn Green Bay Packers, 26-20 in overtime last week. The Panthers held off the Seattle Seahawks, 31-24 to advance to this weekend's game.
Carolina is led by MVP candidate Cam Newton, their unquestioned leader at quarterback.
Newton had a big season while Carolina rolled to a 15-1 finish. His main targets in the passing game is tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr.  and along with a solid running game led by Jonathan Stewart (106 yards and touchdown last weekend against Seattle) gives the Panthers a formidable attack.
The Cardinals are looking good with QB Carson Palmer (also mentioned along with Newton and Tom Brady in MVP talk) throwing the ball to receivers Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd. Rookie David Johnson has spearheaded the rushing attack after taking over for the injured Chris Johnson, who was having a big season to that point.
Both teams have good defenses that can limit opposing passing attacks with stellar secondaries and are also decent at stopping the run.
Look for a close game here as well as the teams look to limit mistakes and not turn the ball over.

The Heftyinfo predictions for this week . . .  (Home teams listed in BOLD)

New England over Denver
Carolina over Arizona

Last week's record:  3-1


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