We made it. After a full season of predictions and picks, let’s talk about the AFC-NFC Championship preview and betting lines which helps to decide who gets the honor of going to the Super Bowl.
This week fans will be treated to a final Manning-Brady showdown in the AFC. More than that, I truly believe for the first time in quite a while, the final four in the NFL are in fact the four best teams in the NFL. The only argument against is the absence of the Cincinnati Bengals and injuries dropped them from contention more than anything else.
Enjoy this weekend’s games, and here’s how they shake out.
New England (-3.5) @Denver over/under 44.5 (MGM Mirage)
How you handicap this game depends a lot on whether you view this as a defensive struggle or a shootout. The evidence is strong this game will be a push-n-pull defensive battle and despite outward appearance, New England’s defense is the superior half of their team.
There’s no question the Broncos’ defense will win or lose this game for them. Ultimately, I find myself torn between head and heart. Intuitively, I expect the Patriots to win this game – they’ve looked better since regaining personnel from injury.
But in my heart, I just can’t root against the old master Peyton Manning in his last hoedown. Even if the Pats are favored by a field goal but do win the game outright, I think Denver’s a fair bet to cover a 3.5 point spread. I expect, win or lose, this will be a fitting conclusion to the rivalry of the decade.
Denver Broncos 23 New England Patriots 21
Arizona (+3) @Carolina over/under 47.5 (Westgate Superbook)
The Panthers sure do look like the team of destiny, don’t they?
But there is a world of talent on the other side of the ball and this is clearly a game that could go either way.
I find it a bit hard to bet against Cam Newton and friends though; so I’m tentatively predicting a late touchdown to win it for the Panthers. That said, the one number I really like in this game is the over.
Despite two excellent defenses, the sure-fire playmakers in this game, Newton, Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson, James Stewart, are mostly on the offensive side of the ball (shhhh, don’t tell Luke Kuechly I said that).
It all adds up to a highly entertaining game that breaks 50 overall.
Carolina Panthers 28 Arizona Cardinals 24
Because we haven’t posted one of these all season, now is a good time to do it.
Featured image via Stacey Minchin