Championship Sunday


afcPatriots (+5.5) at Broncos – Think of it this way: This is the 15th time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have faced off and they’ve never shared a division. This means the only way they face off year after year is by both of their teams perennially finishing in first place and meeting in the playoffs with the occasional rotational matchup (once every 3 years). That’s all you need to know about how good they are. Now to the matchup, which I think seriously favors the Broncos. Granted, the Broncos have a beat up defense, and the Patriots possess a running game in recent weeks that theoretically could keep Peyton on the sideline, but do you really think there’s a single matchup favoring the Patriots so much that better team won’t prevail here? Put it this way: If Belichick schemes out Demaryius Thomas, has ways of controlling Wes Welker, and stuffs the run, how is he stopping Julius Thomas and Eric Decker? In fact, given the way I know Belichick likes to scheme, Eric Decker should have over 120 yards in this game. The Patriots should be willing to leave him in man coverage to take away Welker and Demaryius, and Decker HAS to capitalize. I also think it’s hard to challenge an injured defense if you can’t stretch them, and the Patriots haven’t had any defense-stretching talent in almost four seasons. This may have been the best coaching job by Bill Belichick in his career, but I think it ends here. I don’t see their defense having all the answers, and I don’t see LeGarrette Blount and their bad receivers carrying the load in a road game like this.  Broncos 30, Patriots 23.nfc49ers (+3.5) at Seahawks – Of all the times we like to talk about the fourth quarter deciding games, here’s the biggest game I’ve ever seen that should be decided in the first quarter. If you think that 3.5 is a little high, you’re not wrong, but even if the teams are on level competition, the possibility of the crowd eating the Niners alive in the first quarter skews the overall possibilities to Seattle’s side. I’m sure this has been addressed in the past week, and the Niners will start the game out cautiously on offense and get into a rhythm. They’ll do everything they can to avoid making a big mistake in the first quarter and getting eaten alive off a turnover. Where San Francisco gains an advantage is via the grind of the game as it goes on, as their offense is much more comprehensive in its attack. Seattle plays close to the vest on their own side of the field, confident that a takeaway will put them in plus territory so they can open it up. San Francisco HAS to avoid this formula to win, whether it’s finding running lanes, having Vernon Davis play zone-beater from the slot instead of playing deep threat, or getting Kaepernick running in space, and that still might not be enough to do it. I’ll tell you what will, though. In these games, it really helps quarterbacks to have “their guy”. Kaepernick has his in Michael Crabtree, but Russell Wilson really doesn’t have anyone. Michael Crabtree will top 100 yards and make Richard Sherman look bad. I think that rapport will be the difference, and Seattle will realize that they can’t win the big one without that prime time receiver in today’s game. Let’s hope Percy Harvin is that guy next year. Niners 23, Seahawks 16.

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