2015 NFL Season Conference Championship Weekend – FootballSunday, January 24, 2016 11:30
NFL AFC & NFC Championship picks and analysis.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
AFTER DIVISIONAL WEEKEND
WEEKLY TALLY: 2 – 2
SPECIALS 2 – 2 O/U 3 – 1
OVERALL: 124 – 131 – 9 = .487
2015 SEASON O/U 60 – 43 – 1 = .644
SPECIALS 41 – 30 – 5 = .572
GW 7 – 9 – 3 = .447
LW 12 – 7 – 0 = .632
US 9 – 9 – 1 = .500
O/U 13 – 5 – 1 = .710
O/U OF THE WEEK 12 – 5 – 1
New England Patriots (13-4) @ Denver Broncos (13-4) +3 42.5 [O]
If I were a real gambler, I wouldn’t touch this game unless I had to. I hate the Pats with every fiber of my being and the Broncos aren’t that far behind. Beyond that, there are way too many contradictory trends in this one:
- Brady’s dominance over Manning…
- …Except in AFC Championship games…
- Brady’s continuing excellence at age 38…
- Peyton’s obvious decline at age 39…
I think the whole Brady vs. Manning storyline is for hacks. Belichick is the Dark One; yet the media in increasing numbers seems willing to let him slide all the way through Canton’s back door. Anyone who nuzzles Belichick’s balls without mentioning the very real possibility he still may enjoy the benefits of 10 years worth of taped signals is denying history.
When Manning is under center, not only do the Broncos rush more often, they do so over 70 80% of the time. In the shotgun, Manning passes at about the same clip. If the Broncos want to avoid the blowout every pundit but me is predicting, Denver had better be doing some serious self-scouting.
That goes for Wade Phillips, coordinator of the Wild Horses defense—clearly the NFL’s best, especially against the pass. I hoped Coach Phillips listened to Belichick actually answering a question earlier in Championship Week, during which the Dark Lord of the gridiron all but said Denver doesn’t try to fool anyone on defense by shifting alignments or disguising coverage’s. In other words, we know what they’re doing, we’ve seen it before, Wade Phillips is an idiot; I am a genius, we have already booked the charter to San Francisco.
We believe two important facets of this game have been lost on a lot of so-called experts: First, the home field advantage at Mile High is real—scientifically measured and quantified—
If you need proof, revisit the Broncs Divisional match up against Pittsburgh. The Steelers had the advantage until the game’s final drive. The extra quarter or half step Pittsburgh lost—and due to acclimation—Denver sustained looked obvious on Manning’s game winning drive.
This little number kicks the point through the uprights and a Mile High out of the stadium: .653—representing the win pct. of all conference championship home teams since the merger
Second, the Denver defense is seething. They are getting no respect and some of the players have talked about it all week. Further, Denver has the exact defensive talent—how Phillips utilizes it is another matter—to make Brady’s day very long. They can stuff the run, rush Brady with inside cross blitzes and play man with all three of NE’s receivers.
I’m not a big trend guy-except in the post-season. Pro Football focus gives us he following little nugget:
Since 1990, when the NFL Playoffs expanded to 12 teams, there have been 32 Conference Championship games that were rematches from the regular season. In those games, the winner of the last regular season meeting (there were inter-division rematches where the teams had played each other twice in the regular season) went 20-12 straight-up in the Conference Championship game.
In those same games, when a team won the regular season matchup, and then was an underdog in the Conference Championship game, the underdog went 10-1 against-the-spread.
Even without that little statistical security blanket wrapped around my analysis, I would still be taking the Wild Horses to stampede Brady, in the first half. Belichick will adjust, but the Patriot’s will be flying home without any hardware—don’t forget the Over.
Broncos 32 Patriots 27
GAME OF THE WEEK 6 – 9 – 3
Arizona Cardinals (12-5) @ Carolina Panthers (16-1) – 3 47.5 [O]
After many years as a fanatic and seven seasons hacking my way through the English language on deepintosports.com, I know how difficult it is to win consistently in the NFL without cheating.
I give the Black Cats all respect for a brilliant 15-1 campaign and for their first-half kick in Seattle’s teeth during last week’s divisional match up. I wouldn’t get a whole lot of arguments if I said I believe Cam Newton embodies the next generation of great NFL quarterbacks, and is the league’s MVP.
But, can we put the crown away and shelve the ball washing materials until the Panthers actually beat an elite team like, say, the Cardinals.
During their impressive 14-0 run, Carolina played exactly four “quality” teams, teams with nine or more wins, Houston, Seattle, Green Bay, and Washington. Their only blowout was a 27-point home win over the Nates. Here are some numbers:
- Carolina was the only team over .500 in the NFC South
- They played the entire NFC East…
- …And AFC South
- Those 11 opponents, equaling 14 games were a combined 72 – 104
Arizona took on the North division of each conference. Only Arizona and Seattle earned a top five ranking on offense and defense.
The edge goes to the Panthers for game changing players, with Newton, LB extraordinaire, Luke Kuechly, and stud CB, Josh Norman—although Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and demon KR/CB, Patrick Petersen are superstars too.
I know I’m a card-carrying member of Steeler Nation, but it might behoove teams in need of a head coach to consult the Rooneys before they hire. Nine years ago, Mike Tomlin blew the Steelers’ brain trust away in his initial interview. Had Art Rooney II ultimately not hired Tomlin, the back-up choice was Ron Rivera.
Bruce Arians, with his own Pittsburgh connections, might be the better coach in Charlotte for this championship game. He’s gotten more out of Carson Palmer—27-5 in his last two years—than any other HC/OC and his players love him to death.
Look for the Cards to seize control early; the Panthers will claw their way back and might pull out a close one.
I’m taking the Redbirds, the points, and the Over.
Cardinals 26 Panthers 23
AFC & NFC Conference Championship Lines 1/24, 2016
|Date & Time||Favorite||Line||Underdog||Total|
|1/24 3:00 ET||New England O/U||-3||At Denver||44.5|
|1/24 6:40 ET||At Carolina GW [O]||-3||Arizona||47.5|
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