Pickin’ With Pano: Conference Championships

After 19 weeks of NFL action, it all comes down to this weekend to see who will earn the right to play for the Super Bowl. The four teams remaining were many peoples pre-season predictions, and it is now clear why. Arguably the top two Quarterbacks play for the AFC Crown, while the top two Defenses battle it out in the NFC. After a rough start in the Wild Card round, our own Pano rebounded quite nicely going 3-1 last week. For the Championship round he likes both ‘Dogs. Read below to find out why, and enjoy what will be a memorable week of NFL Action – including the end of an era between Brady and Manning (see here for Mike Osinski’s article regarding that: “The Last Waltz“). Good luck!

Regular Season Record: 21-13
Playoff Record: 4-4
Season Total To Date: 25-17

By David Panosian

Patriots Broncos AFC
New England Patriots (+5.5) at Denver Broncos, AFC Championship 3:00pm CBS:
The New England Patriots head to Invesco Field at Mile High to face off against the Denver Broncos in what should be the first of two great games on Sunday. Both teams come into this one at less than full strength, with the Broncos missing Chris Harris after his ACL tear in the Divisional Playoff game (not to mention Von Miller and Ryan Clady, the latter of whom has been out the majority of the year), and the Pats missing the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Brandon Spikes. Philip Rivers attacked Harris’ replacement Quentin Jammer repeatedly after Harris left, and I would expect the Patriots to do the same. Last week, the Pats ran the ball down the throat of the Colts, but I would expect at minimum a more balanced attack here. The Broncos should also have a great deal of success moving the ball offensively. The over/under in this one is 56 for a reason; I think it has a good shot to go over that. I like this one to be close, and have a feeling it may be decided by a late field goal. In the end, I like the Broncos to prevail, but like the 5.5 points the Pats get. Take the points here.
Niners Seahawks NFC

San Francisco 49’ers (+3.5) at Seattle Seahawks, NFC Championship 6:30pm FOX:
The San Francisco 49’ers travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in what may have become the NFL’s greatest rivalry to this point. The 49’ers last 2 trips to Seattle have been nightmares, so the big question is, will we see something different on Sunday or more of the same. I have to say something different, because the 49’ers have already passed two huge tests on the road during the Playoffs, and also will have the services of Michael Crabtree, who was rehabbing his Achilles tear in week two during the last matchup these two had. The Seahawks offense also looked a little sluggish to me against the Saints, as New Orleans was allowed to hang in although their offense was completely out of sync for the first three quarters on Saturday. Again, this has the feel of a game that may be decided by a late field goal, and the 3.5 points may really loom large. The 49’ers have a real chance to steal this, even considering the Seahawks have only lost one home game in two years. I will again recommend taking the points. Sit back, relax, and enjoy these two games on Championship Sunday! I have a feeling these two games break combined TV ratings records.

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