Bob Haynie: A Strong Final Four For The NFL
As some Baltimore Ravens may still be licking their wounds because their team did not make the postseason for the first time since 2007, others–like me–are enjoying what has been an exciting couple of weekends on NFL fun. After a slew of comebacks, last-second kicks and upsets, there are only four teams left in commissioner Roger Goodell’s tournament.
Lucky for us, they are the four best teams the league has to offer.
With all due respect to clubs like the Panthers, Saints, Chiefs and Colts, the last four standing are the four that stand above the rest.
The AFC Championship game features the Denver Broncos hosting the New England Patriots. QB’s Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are bound for the NFL Hall of Fame and are in a position to add to their already glorious legacies. As good as Brady is, Manning has been incredible during the 2013 regular season. His 55 TD’s set a league record helped lead the Broncos to a 13-3 record.
This game, however, will not be just about the QB’s as both teams can also run the ball effectively. Denver RB Knowshon Moreno rushed for over 1,000 yards which included a career-high 224 when the Broncos and Patriots met in New England in November. The Pat have been getting monster production from LeGarrette Blount who shredded the Colts last weekend for 166 yards and four TD’s.
The Broncos probably have the edge at receiver as the Patriots have dealt with a slew of injuries there. Defensively, neither team rates that high overall (Denver 19th, NE 26th) but, the Patriots did finish fifth with 48 sacks.
In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49’ers will renew acquaintances in what has become one of the NFL’s best rivalries. This game, being played in Seattle, will match the 1st ( Seahawks ) and 5th ( 49’ers ) ranked defenses in the league. In Seattle’s Russell Wilson and San Fran’s Colin Kaepernick, we will also see two of the NFL’s fine young QB’s.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh has led his team to three-straight NFC title games and is trying to get back to the Super Bowl. Seattle’s Pete Carroll is trying to defend that #1 seed.
The Seahawks have a strong home crowd advantage as Wilson has only lost once at Century Link Field.
As for picks, I’m taking both road teams.
Manning is 6-11 against NE coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady can win anywhere.
In Seattle, I’m going with playoff experience over noise.
Look for two very good games and for the Patriots and 49’ers to make it to Super Bowl 48.