Well, I could have been 3/4 on my divisional round predictions. If I had just stuck to my guns and went with Carolina instead of Seattle! I had Carolina all week and then changed my mind last minute on my blog post. Oh well.
So, who’s going to play Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara? Predictions follow:
Patriots 30 | Broncos 17
No brainer here. Yeah the Patriots are playing in Denver. Yeah they lost last time. But guess what, that was 2014. When Peyton was unstoppable, and leading a historically efficient offense. Today’s Peyton is a shadow of that Peyton. Today’s Peyton does not have the offense to play in the Super Bowl.
On the flip side, Brady is back to his early-season form. Gronk is healthy again. Edelman is back. The defense is becoming healthy again. Hightower, the centerpiece of the Patriots’ D, will be back. Note that during the regular season, where Denver won, Hightower was injured in the second half. That made the difference.
Also, now with the Patriots having walloped KC, does Brady let himself lose to teams twice? He hates losing, and he finds a way not to do it twice.
If Denver wants to win this, there is one way: control the pace. Get the ground game going. Sustain some long drives, keep Brady on the bench. That worked for one drive against Pittsburgh — the one after Touissant’s fumble that turned the game around. That also worked in overtime when CJ Anderson broke open for a game-winning TD.
Cardinals 20 | Panthers 23
This is a very good matchup. Both teams are complete on both sides of the ball, and would be Super Bowl favorites if they make it there. This game could go either way. However, in the divisional round, the Panthers destroyed the Seahawks, while the Cardinals barely squeaked out a win against the ailing Packers. Based on this, I’m going to pick the Panthers. Plus home field advantage.
One more thing to think about: did anyone see Palmer almost choke the game away last week? Did anyone see that amazing throw from Newton to Olsen in the end zone?