Who’s going to the Super Bowl? Check out my predictions below.
NEW ENGLAND (2) VS DENVER (1)
Even though the Denver offense is nothing short of amazing, the biggest focus for the Broncos may actually be their defense. Manning has a lot of weapons to work with and can easily move the ball down the field, but the Broncos defense has to keep the Patriots off the board and the pressure off the Broncos offense.
Tom Brady is 7-0 against Jack Del Rio led defenses and this might be why I am leaning towards the Patriots. The passing attack may not be as explosive as before, but the running game has been great and don’t be surprised if LeGarrette Blount sets the tone early, slows down the game for the Patriots.
The Broncos defense will have to pressure Brady and without Von Miller, they have to find a way to collapse the pockets so Brady can’t find his receivers. Getting the Patriots off the field will give Manning and company their opportunity to shine. Expect a lot of passes inside with Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. The offense will look to get those two involved early.
This is a toss up, but Manning hasn’t had a good track record in the playoffs and I won’t put anything past a Belichick-led team in the AFC title game.
PATRIOTS WIN 38-34
SAN FRANCISCO (5) VS SEATTLE (1)
12th Man this, 12th Man that. Well, they are that important. The past two meetings in Seattle has not been good games for the 49ers and the 12th Man was a major factor. How much of a factor will they be? It really depends on who sets the tone first.
Seattle may have been struggling on offense, but Marshawn Lynch continues to be the driving force of the offense. If he can get going early, then it’s going to be a long day for the 49ers. Russell Wilson has to step up his game, make the big plays that he has been lacking recently to get the Seahawks scoring early to get the momentum on their side.
San Francisco on the other hand may be playing their best football all year but it still lies on the hands of Colin Kaepernick. Can he be more patient in the pocket and not resort to running so much? Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree are expected to be major factors in the passing game but the presence of Vernon Davis might be the difference. Get them going, along with Frank Gore, and the 49ers have the best chance to get the lead early and run with momentum.
This game will still come down to the pass protection and whether or not the quarterbacks will make the best decision as the pocket collapses. The mark of these two young guns will come down to their composure. And for the 49ers, how they handle the 12th Man.
SEAHAWKS WIN 17-16