The 2016 NFL Conference championship matchups are here. Four teams are left standing. The Patriots and the Broncos are usual suspects in the AFC. In the NFC, the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers are the last teams standing. Carson Palmer has finally won his first career playoff game. If the Broncos lose this week, this could be Peyton Manning's last career game. Who will go on to play on Superbowl Sunday? Who will return home wondering what might have been? Here are some picks.
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning has a history of choking in the postseason. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are one of the most successful coach-quarterback pairings ever to participate in the postseason. History continues, and the Patriots win this one handily. Final score: New England Patriots 28, Denver Broncos 14.
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers. This is a game that I have virtually no idea how to pick. These are similar teams with great defenses and surprisingly good offenses. Carson Palmer and Cam Newton are both laying phenomenal football right now, and both of these coaches are outstanding. The Panthers were an afterthought at the beginning of the season due to a lack of WR depth, and many people wrote off the Cardinals before the season even began. That being said, one of these teams will play in the Superbowl. I'm leaning towards the Cardinals but this will be a great game. Final score: Arizona Cardinals 21, Carolina Panthers 20.
--Mike B. (158-107)
#2 Patriots @ #1 Broncos (3:05 PM/ET) (CBS): This game will be another classic matchup between Brady and Manning. 199 vs #1 in a battle between this generations two best and honestly top 10 NFL best’s. The Patriots have the more potent offense and the weaker defense in this game. Brady and company will have to come into Denver and play a pretty stout defense. Peyton and company will have to try and get their lackadaisical offense to manage to keep pace with Brady and co. For the Broncos defense the key is to shut down Edelman and slow down Gronk otherwise the Patriots will be headed to another Super Bowl. I think this game will be close the whole way through. Patriots win 30 – 28 over the Broncos.
#2 Cardinals @ #1 Panthers (6:40 PM/ET) (FOX): The NFC championship matchup is going to be a thriller. The Cardinals are honestly the best matchup for the Panthers and this game will be so exciting for any football fan to watch. The Panthers are unbeaten at home and hold at 15-1 record this season posting the NFL’s best record. Carson Palmer is going to hopefully be able to take him and Larry Fitzgerald to a much deserved Super Bowl trip. I think this matchup should be a battle between the top two MVP candidates in my opinion. Most Valuable Player should be the guy who their respective team can’t live without, which in my eyes is Carson Palmer because the Cardinals would be terrible without him. Now him and Fitz pulled off an impressive win over the Packers last weekend in OT. The Panthers really need to hope they hold on to a lead if they build one like they did last weekend against Seattle. Cam would be looking for his first trip to the Super Bowl and same with Luke Kuechly, both young men would deserve this trip. I am really excited for two top defenses clashing with two top offenses clashing at the same time. This game is going to be a thriller in Carolina. Panthers pull of a win Cam Newton style 26 – 23 over the Cardinals.
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