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Last week could have been a lot better, but I will take a 2-2 week after the excellent run I had during the latter half of this season. Good luck to everyone this weekend!
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos -4 Total: 56
In a matchup for the ages, the Broncos welcome the Patriots to Mile High Stadium for the AFC Championship and a spot in the Super Bowl. These two teams met once in the regular season, a thrilling 34-31 come from behind win for New England at Foxboro. Denver had led 24-0 at halftime.
The Patriots thrashed the Colts 43-22 last week at Gillette Stadium on the back of four touchdowns by LeGarrette Blount. Denver held a double-digit lead for much of their contest against the Chargers past Sunday before it got closer late in the fourth quarter. However, Manning was able to complete a critical third down at midfield, and the Broncos ran out the clock to win 24-17.
A lot of the betting public seems to be in love with the Patriots in this contest, but I think it is misguided. All these playoffs games seem tough to bet this year, but Denver is one of my favorite plays so far this postseason.
New England knows how to win in the postseason, and no one would ever doubt Bill Belichick when it comes to game planning, but the personnel is just not there to compete with Denver. With loads of season-ending injuries on both sides the ball, the Patriots have been decimated this season in regards to health.
While the rushing attack won them the game last week in Indianapolis, the Colts rush defense was among the worst in the NFL over the last few weeks. Denver’s rush defense is nothing to write home about, but is far from the Swiss cheese unit they faced last week. They will be forced to look to the air to score in this one.
The loss of Broncos’ cornerback Chris Harris to injury is concerning, but I still have serious doubts that Brady will even come close to being able to match Manning’s output. Denver’s offense has no weaknesses and will put up gargantuan against New England’s woeful defense. They also have the ability to keep Brady off the field via the running game. Knowshon Moreno rushed for a career-high 224 yards in their previous meeting this season.
All the pressure is on Denver in this contest, which I think is a good thing. This team is still haunted from last year’s loss against Baltimore and is dead-set on getting to the big game. It also does not hurt that they have a better roster.
Pick: Broncos -4(-125)
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks -3 Total: 39.5
No team has been hotter than San Francisco in the past two months. The 49ers have won eight straight games as they head up north to take on the Seahawks, their NFC West divisional rivals, for a trip to the Super Bowl.
These franchises split their divisional series this season with Seattle winning 29-3 at home and the 49ers taking care of business at Candlestick, 19-17. There is certainly some bad blood between these two teams as they face each other for the third time this season.
San Francisco narrowly escaped in the Wild-Card Round, beating the Packers 23-20 in a frigid game at Lambeau Field. They then took care of Carolina in convincing fashion last week, winning 23-10. Seattle bested New Orleans 23-15 in a similar low scoring fashion. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
It is worth noting that the Niners did not have Michael Crabtree in their first two meetings against Seattle. He could be a game changer in this matchup, but it will likely still be a tough go of it for San Francisco’s offense. Seattle’s defense is by far the best in the league and has done a number on Kaepernick in previous meetings this year.
I find this one extremely difficult to handicap because of how potentially low scoring this game may end up being. Both teams will be conservative with their play calling, and the total of 39 is among the lowest I have seen this season. The run will be heavily utilized for both teams, not only with running backs Lynch and Gore, but from Kaepernick and Wilson, as well.
Neither of these teams turned the ball over often during the regular season and will be even more careful this Sunday. I doubt either of these teams clear the 20-point threshold as they play field position and wait for the other to make a mistake.
Pick: Under 39.5
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