It is painful to watch the AFC Championship game, and football in general, knowing the Pittsburgh Steelers were extremely close to extending their season by being one step away from representing the AFC in Super Bowl 50. Nonetheless, the championship weekend slate has been officially set, and it is time to make some predictions.
The AFC Championship game is a familiar tune. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. The two legendary quarterbacks will go head-to-head, without ever being on the field at the same time, as Brady looks to win his second straight Super Bowl and Manning looks to make it back to the big dance with a chance to do what John Elway did and ride off into the sunset a champion.
The Patriots and Broncos will play in Denver, where Brady has only won twice. It should make for interesting television, but Manning and the Broncos' offense did not look up to the challenge of keeping pace with the Patriots after last week's dismal performance against the Steelers in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs.
On the NFC side, the Carolina Panthers will host the Arizona Cardinals in what could be the best football game of the playoffs -- and that includes the Super Bowl. These two teams will go head-to-head for the second time this season, and Bruce Arians will try to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since he was the coordinator of the Steelers.
Who do you think will win these games? Simply enter your scores into the Crowd's Line tools below and see how the games unfold.
As for my predictions, I think the Patriots' offense will be too much for the Broncos. The Steelers have given the blue print for success against the league's top-ranked defense, and that is protecting the QB and beating the man coverage the Broncos deploy. The Patriots have the weapons, and the QB, to beat this defense, and it pains me to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl once again.
In the night cap I like the Panthers to beat the Cardinals. Carson Palmer look unbelievably bad last week against the Green Bay Packers, and the 16-1 Panthers have a chip on their shoulder.
That's right, I'm calling a rematch of the 2004 Super Bowl with the Panthers and Patriots playing in Super Bowl 50 in the Bay area.
Jeff Hartman's Championship games predictions (BTSC Editor):