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NFL 2013 Championship Playoff Matchups
As I predicted, last weekend's playoff games weren't as good or close as Wildcard weekend, and we now have who most considered to be the best two teams from each division remaining. I've thought about each of these matchups all week and have gone back and forth on who I think will win each game several times.
Sun 3:00 #2 New England at #1 Denver
Manning vs. Brady. Does it get any better? If you're a true NFL fan you may not like one or even both of these quarterbacks (although I'd bet a lot more people dislike Brady than Manning), but you'd like to see this matchup at least one last time, especially with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Brady is 10-4 against Manning in his career, and after losing the game earlier this year in which Denver had a huge lead, this will be an important game for Manning.
There's not a whole lot to say about this game that hasn't already been said about this matchup before. Injuries on both sides will make an impact, and I'd much rather be watching both these teams play at full strength, but I'll take it either way. Ultimately it will come down to Manning vs. Brady and who can lead their team to victory. I found it very interesting that the Patriots scored 43 points last week with Brady throwing for less than 200 yards and no touchdowns. If the Patriots are able to run the ball successfully and control the clock, keeping Manning on the sidelines it will give them a great shot at winning this game. As I type this sentence I still haven't decided who to pick in this game. I hate picking against Brady, but I think Peyton and the Broncos find a way to squeak this one out.
Broncos 30 Patriots 27
Sun 6:30 #5 San Francisco at #1 Seattle
It's perfect that these two teams are battling it out for the NFC Championship. It's the new rivalry in the NFL and both teams are similarly built. They both have elite defenses, strong running games and are led by young quarterbacks. There has been a lot of discussion this week about the lack of a passing game in Seattle and the struggles of Russell Wilson over the past month and a half and I think people are making too big of a deal about this. Wilson hasn't thrown the ball much because he hasn't had to. I believe that he's fully capable of winning a game if need be.
At this point in the season I think that San Francisco is the hotter team. They've been on a roll ever since they got wide receiver Michael Crabtree back from his Achilles injury. Let's remember that in their last two games in Seattle, San Francisco has been outscored by 55 points combined. Also, San Francisco has been on the road for five of their last six games, so I wonder how much of a toll this will take on them.
I expect this to be a physical, defensive game. Both teams are going to score points, but they won't be easily given. I expect both teams to aim to shut down the run for their opposition and make the quarterback have to win the game. This seems obvious for San Francisco with Wilson's recent struggles, but Kaepernick has had his own struggles in Seattle throughout his career. If the Seahawks defense can force Kaepernick into several third and longs and contain him in the pocket, they have a good chance of winning this game. I think Wilson relishes this opportunity to lead the team to victory and expect him to throw for at least 250 yards in this game. Ultimately, I can't pick against Seattle at home--there's something special about the 12th man.
Seahawks 20 49ers 17
Enjoy the games!
Last Week: 4-0