A couple very interesting games are on the docket today.
In the AFC, you have the 17th meeting of Peyton Manning (5 wins) and Tom Brady (11 wins). The last 10 years, the rivalry is 5-5, and their playoff matchups are 2-2. The caveat being Manning has won the last 2. Likely the last hurrah for Manning as a relevant QB, but you never know. Brady marches on through the AFC East yet again as he coasts his way to another deep playoff run. He looks to have a couple more seasons left in his arm.
Denver would seem to have the advantage due to its punishing defense, and Manning is having a fair-to-middling season, but he’s a lot like Aaron Rodgers. Able to pull himself together as the situations become dire. Still and all, betting against Brady this late in the season would be a fool’s bet.
New England 30 – Denver 24
The NFC is featuring 2 teams that each have a Super Bowl loss to their credit. The Panthers of course are an expansion team that came to life in 1995 and reached the Super Bowl in their 9th season, only to lose Super Bowl XXXVIII to the Patriots and a young Tom Brady 32-29 in one of the better Super Bowls in recent memory. AZ on the other hand has been around since 1920, and haven’t won a championship of any kind since 1947. They however were 34 seconds away from a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII over the Steelers in yet another exciting Super Bowl. They lost only for a fantastic catch by Santonio Holmes in the back of the end zone. A big part of that Pittsburgh win came at the hands of a 100 yard pick 6 by LB James Harrison as time ran out in the 1st half. A 14 point swing to close the half as all AZ needed to do was get him out of bounds, and couldn’t.
Today? Most of this game depends on Carson Palmer. He played pretty badly last week, and they couldn’t put away a mediocre Green Bay team. One that was only in the game for Aaron Rodgers’ strength of will. Palmer threw a completely awful pick in the end zone, and short-armed another throw for a pick. He played like he didn’t want to make mistakes, and failed. If he can settle down and shred the questionable panther secondary, they can roll up some points. Cam Newton showed he can shred defenses with the best of them, but their problem is getting and blowing leads. If Carolina can run, I think they take AZ pretty handily. I think they do, and Carolina wins a high-scoring affair.
Carolina 37 – AZ 28