We’re down to the final four teams in the NFL playoffs as the conference championship games slowly approach.
On the AFC side, two team and two quarterbacks who know each other very well will meet with both franchises being very familiar with Super Bowl appearances.
On the NFC side, both teams playing have only been to one Super Bowl apiece, but will look to make it two with one more win.
After my 2-2 weekend, I still sit two games below .500 for the playoffs, but winning out this weekend will put me right back in the middle.
Without further ado, let’s get into the picks for this week.
Patriots over Broncos
This will be the 17th meeting between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady across the regular season and the playoffs. Brady leads the all-time series 11-5, but they are actually tied in terms of playoff records against each other at 2-2.
Interestingly, Manning has more touchdown passes in their rivalry, but has also thrown more interceptions. This says a lot about how each team has used their quarterback in meetings between the two.
I think this game will be close, but the Patriots just finished tearing apart a potent Chiefs defense and I could see them doing something similar to Denver.
I also think Manning is still shaky enough where he will throw a pick or two and have difficulty sustaining long drives against an underrated Patriots defense.
Overall, this is the Patriots game to lose given the factors going for them.
Cardinals over Panthers
Neither of these franchises has won a Super Bowl and the winner will be going to the second Super Bowl in franchise history.
This game should be a defensive battle and I have a feeling it will be another close game to wrap up a playoff season full of close calls.
I think the Cardinals defense is a little better and as good as Cam Newton has been, Larry Fitzgerald will be the biggest playmaker on the field Sunday and should have a major impact on the result of the game.
The Panthers have had an incredible year, but I think it comes to an end as the Cardinals hand them their second loss of the season.
The only thing that I could see swinging the game in favor of the Panthers is a possible Carson Palmer injury, but even that has been seemingly put off for now.
Barring the unforeseen, I’m going to go with the Cardinals here.
The winners of these games will meet in Super Bowl 50, which is less than three weeks away now. We could see a first-time champion, a three-time champion or a five-time champion emerge from these four contenders.
No matter what happens, come back next week for analysis of what happened in the conference championships and what is to come in the Super Bowl here at the Cowan Corner.