After 19 weeks of NFL games, it’s time to determine the two teams that will face each other in the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl. This year’s championship games will fittingly see the number one seeds from both conferences welcome the number two seeds. The Denver Broncos host the New England Patriots and the Panthers travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals. Last week, Steven and ‘The Pug’ went 4-0 to take to the top of The Scrum staff playoff pick ‘em standings. Full results and staff picks are listed below.
New England Patriots (13-4) @ Denver Broncos (13-4) Sunday 3:05 Kickoff
History on the line everywhere in this matchup that has all but officially been renamed Brady-Manning XVII. Brady owns this series, as he is 11-5 all time against Manning. The playoffs become a little more balanced between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, as they are 2-2 against each other. Manning is 2-1 against Brady in championship games; both of those victories coming when Peyton was calling the signals on his home turf. This year the Broncos boasted an incredible defense. They rank 1st and 3rd against the pass and run respectively good for the best overall defense in the league. The Patriots bring to town the 5th best passing offense but rank 30th in rushing this season. The Broncos beat the Patriots during the regular season in overtime when C.J. Anderson had a 47 yard touchdown run. Two years ago these teams met in the AFC Championship game, and Peyton Manning threw for 400 yards en route to leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl. This is the 5th time the Broncos and Patriots have met in the post season play, with the Broncos holding the series edge 3-1. Let’s revisit the history aspect of this game. When Tom Brady takes the field this Sunday, he will break the record for most post-season games played. A victory for the Patriots will give Bill Belichick and also the New England Patriots the NFL record for most Super Bowl appearances. If the Broncos walk away from Sunday with a victory they will tie the Patriots, Steelers and Cowboys for most all time Super Bowl appearances.
Carolina Panthers (16-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (14-3) Sunday 6:40 Kickoff
Last year, the Panthers ended the Cardinals season 27-16 in the Wildcard round. This time they raise the stakes, as they meet with a chance to play for the Lombardi trophy. There are big changes from last year for both teams, as the Cardinals were without Carson Palmer and breakout rookie running back David Johnson. For the Panthers they limped into the playoffs with 7-8-1 record, and Cam Newton wasn’t playing at an MVP level. This is the 3rd time these two franchises will meet in the post season, splitting the series against each other. These two former Heisman award winning quarterbacks appear poised to continue the streak of eight consecutive NFC championship games being decided by 7 points or less. On paper, these two teams match up incredibly tight. Carolina ranks 1st in points scored and Arizona 2nd, and Arizona ranks 5th and Carolina 6th in defensive ranks. Will this game be a shootout or a defensive battle? Either way strap on your belts and get ready for a wild ride.
|New England Patriots @|
|Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers|
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