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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Path to the Super Bowl is One Win Away
AFC and NFC Championship Weekend 

Last Week:  2 - 2
Overall:  5 - 3

Last week the big news headline was whether we could have the Top 4 teams sweep the divisional round for the first time in 5 years.  Well, it didn't happen.  I didn't think that would happen either.  Fortunately, I was correct in making that call.  Unfortunately, I picked the wrong upset.  The Colts really surprised me with their way of neutralizing Peyton and the Broncos.  And of course, Green Bay and Dallas came down to a controversial call reversal that cost the Cowboys a spot in this weekend's game in Seattle.  Karma came back to haunt them though.  Could karma come back to haunt the Packers this weekend?  Let's get to the picks....

AFC

(4) Indianapolis Colts over (1) New England Patriots - Ok so I must be crazy here right?  The Patriots are HUGE favorites in this game.  They are playing at home, a place the Colts haven't won in since 2006 (4 straight defeats).  Patriots QB Tom Brady is going for his NFL-record 20th playoff win.  The Patriots dominated the Colts earlier this season in a 42-20 victory.  This is only Colts QB Andrew Luck's 6th playoff game.  The odds and stats are one-sided.  However, this feels a bit familiar.  Remember when we saw an undefeated Patriots team advance to the Super Bowl to play a considered weaker opponent in the New York Giants?  How did that turn out?  I feel like this could be a similar outcome.  The Patriots have entered playoff games in the past as huge favorites and have underperformed or succumbed to the heavy expectations.  If Luck can minimize the turn overs and if Hakeem Nicks can pick up some big plays, the Colts offense can get going.  When these teams played earlier in the season, the Patriots were able to run all over the Colts.  Since that loss, the Colts have tightened up their D, giving up only 110 yards per game and going 7-1.  Don't get me wrong, the Patriots have a dominant offense lead by Brady.  If the Colts cannot contain the Pats receivers and are unable to blitz and pressure Brady, this game could be over by halftime.  I think the Colts will come fired up to knock off the AFC's best and pick up the upset.  Time for Andrew Luck to become only the 3rd QB to beat Manning and Brady in the same playoff year. 

NFC

(1) Seattle Seahawks over (2) Green Bay Packers - When the season started, many believed this would be the NFC Championship game.  The defending champions versus the Aaron Rodgers.  The match-up we all wanted.  But in the beginning weeks of the season this looked very unlikely.  The Packers started the season 1-2 and looked anything but a playoff team.  Seattle was 3-3 at one point and looked barely capable of winning their division let alone the NFC title.  But this is what great teams do.  They turn around a struggling beginning to a season and prove why they are the best.  Both of these teams have done that.  The problem here is the Seahawks are just too dominant of a team.  Russel Wilson has 9 TD passes this postseason and only 1 INT.  The Seahawks D looks to be in fine form and will trouble an immobilized Rodgers all day.  How is Rodgers feeling and is he able to move better than last week?  I doubt it.  And while the Cowboys D is ok, the Seahawks D is much much stronger.  Plus, look at recent history.  Amazingly enough, Rodgers has only thrown for 1 TD in 2 games verses the Seahawks D.  The Seahawks have held the Packers to 28 COMBINED points in those 2 games.  Seattle's O-line will support Wilson against the Packers D, giving him enough time to find his receivers and make the big plays.  The Packers hopes will rest more on Eddie Lacy.  If Rodgers is unable to run and scramble, Lacy is going to have to find holes and pick up big yards.  I am not sure that can happen consistently all game.  The Packers need to keep it close at halftime to have a shot.  I expect this game could be over early though.  Remember, the 12tth Man effect will be in full force at CenturyLink Field.  The Seahawks will have a shot to win back-to-back Super Bowls, something that has not been done in over a decade.