We have arrived at the NFL's conference championship games. Who will win? Can I keep up the mometum from my 7-1 start making Playoff predictions? Let's make some picks.
AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
The storyline in this game is Brady vs. Manning. This game is not really about Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, though. The big matchup is Brady vs. the Denver defense.
One thing that always scares me in making picks is when everybody jumps on the bandwagon of one team in a toss up game. It seems like everybody loves the Patriots in this game. I'm not as sold. I think the Denver defense gives the Pats some real problems. I still don't like this New England offensive line.
On the other side of the ball, Denver had a miserable game last week against the Steelers. I tend to think they won't drop that many passes again. Can Peyton Manning make enough plays? This is a fascinating thing to watch. Pretty much all of Manning's physical ability is gone. Anything good he has been able to cobble together this season has been about smarts and experience. I think he makes enough plays to send the Broncos back to the Super Bowl.
NFC Championship Game: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
I think these have been the two best teams in the NFL all season, and the winner of this game should be favored in the Super Bowl.
These teams have met in Charlotte in the Playoffs in the last decade. Both games were decided by which quarterback melted down. A year ago the Cardinals were so banged up at the position that they started Ryan Lindley in a road postseason game. The results were predictable. Back in 2008, Jake Delhomme had a 5 interception catastrophe in a Divisional game that was the beginning of the end of his career. Arizona won 33-13.
This one feels like a complete toss up. I will go with the Panthers due to two x-factors. First, they are at home. Second is the quarterbacks situation. This one is much more of a fair fight than the last two times these teams played in the postseason. Carson Palmer certainly isn't a weakness, but nobody has been on Cam Newton's level this year. I can't pick against him.