NFL Conference Championships: Michael Williams’ Predictions

AP Photo - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) goes over the top for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass.

AP Photo – New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) goes over the top for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass.

By Michael Williams | The Duquesne Duke

For the second year in a row, the first and second seeds will be facing off against each other in the AFC and NFC championship games.  In the AFC, it is Brady-Manning XVII as the New England Patriots go to Denver to face the Broncos while in the NFC, the 12-4 Arizona Cardinals travel to Carolina to face the 15-1 Panthers.

Last week’s games were all decided by one touchdown. The Cardinals beat the Packers 26-20 in overtime, the Patriots beat the Chiefs 27-20, the Panthers beat the Seahawks 31-24 after nearly blowing a 31-0 lead at halftime, and the Broncos beat the Steelers 23-16.

First is Broncos-Patriots. Ironically, this game will probably be determined more by the defenses than the quarterbacks. Denver’s defense is regarded as top-tier while the Patriot’s defense has also been solid. Brady has had a good year, but at times the Patriots offense has sputtered due to injuries to the offensive line and receivers. Father time seems to have caught up to Manning, as he threw nineGet touchdowns to 17 interceptions, and was benched at one point for Brock Osweiler who beat the Patriots 30-24 in overtime in Denver in week 12.

This rivalry has many important stats that play into this game. So far Brady leads the rivalry 11-5 but is tied 2-2 in the playoffs and Manning leads 2-1 in championship games. However, Manning usually struggles in the playoffs while Brady is the considered one of the greatest. However Brady struggles in Denver (2-6 in his career).

I believe Brady is Manning is better than Manning currently, but Denver’s pass rush is ferocious and I believe that they can handle a weakened Patriots offensive line in Denver as Manning does just enough to get the win. Brady-Manning games are always fun to watch, but this may be the last, as Manning is 39 and Brady is 38, so enjoy two of the greatest quarterbacks who have revolutionized the position while you can.

On the NFC side, there is less history, but still an intriguing matchup. Carolina and Arizona have dominated this year and both look like they could win it all, however they also have had a few games that make it difficult to put complete faith in either of them. In week 17, the Seahawks travelled to Arizona and annihilated them 36-6, but when Carolina hosted the Seahawks last week, the Panthers nearly blew a 31-0 lead which is a big red flag for a playoff team.

The Panthers have homefield advantage which always helps, but Arizona hasn’t exactly had problems on the road though. I will not be surprised if either team wins this matchup, but I trust the Cardinals coach Bruce Arians more than the Panthers Ron Rivera, so at the end of the day, I predict the Cardinals to advance to the Superbowl.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!