Well, we’re just 2 1/2 weeks away from the 2014 Super Bowl and we are ready with our picks for the championship games this weekend. It’s clear that the remaining four teams truly deserve to be playing for the right to go to E. Rutherford next month.
*Home team in CAPS
Patriots over the BRONCOS- Up until the last week or so, we would have said overwhelmingly that Denver would take this game should these two play each other for the AFC championship, but two things have changed our thinking; First, the Pats have switched their M/O somewhat and have been rushing more than we’re used to seeing…and they have done so very effectively. The success they’ve had (Blount 166 rushing yards- 4 TDs and Ridley 52 yards and 2 TDs last week vs the Colts), just opens things up for an already strong aerial attack.
Second, with the best CB on the Bronocos, Chris Harris, tearing his ACL and Von Miller out, Brady should have an easier time in the Patriots passing game. In fact we expect more passing than rushing in this game unlike what we saw last week now that the Broncos defense is hurting. The intangible in this game, as always, is Bill Belichick who is a cool 19-8 in the post-season to go along with three Super Bowl Championships! That’s one heck of a resume.
SEAHAWKS vs 49ers- Although a lot of pundits are pining for S.F., we are giving the edge to Seattle. Keys to this game will include running back Marshawn Lynch, both field goal kickers , the refs, turnovers, and the crowd. Lynch has 170 yards rushing in the teams’ two regular season meetings this year and will need to do even better than that in order to keep Kaepernick & the Niners off the field. In Lynch’s last five games against S.F., the running back has averaged 98.2 yards so that task is certainly attainable.
We mentioned field goal kickers because the last two times these teams faced one another, the final scores, low by NFL standards, only tallied 36 combined points (in their December game) and 32 (in September). Seattle’s defense has allowed just 16 touchdown passes all season; second best in the league, while posting an NFL-high 28 interceptions. Kaepernick needs to bring his ‘A’ game if he and his teammates expect to pull off the upset. How has opposing quarterbacks fared against Seattle’s ‘D’? They have a combined league-low rating of 63.4%.
The Seahawks are one of the leagues most penalized teams which could come back to haunt them on Sunday, unless of course, the 12th man on the field, the crowd, forces more than a few false starts for Kaepernick & crew. These two teams do not like each other and you can expect more than a few fights to break out during the game which will put more pressure on the refs whose decisions could swing the momentum and possibly the game one way or the other. However, when the dust settles, it will be the ‘Hawks who will move on to E. Rutherford.