Last Week: 4-0
Overall: 166-95-1

Patriots @ Broncos

Peyton

Last week went perfect going with the chalk. Denver is the gambling favorite in the fourth Brady vs. Manning match-up in the playoffs, but it’s hard to see the Patriots as a heavy underdog. For all the hype leading up to this game, the team who runs the ball better and more consistently will win. New England dominated the Colts by riding LaGarrette Blount while Denver bested the Chargers largely behind the running efforts of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball. However, the Broncos left the door open for San Diego in the second half when they abandoned the run with the lead. I don’t understand the reasoning behind Denver’s decision to forgo the run and lean more on the short passing game, which makes me believe that whichever team’s coach blinks first will lose this match-up.

Do you think Bill Belichick will blink? I don’t. Although both teams are banged up, losing Chris Harris could be a potentially fatal (at the very least devastating) obstacle to overcome with New England able to spread the field. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are going to nickel and dime Denver to death and the Broncos will also have to contend with Shane Vereen out of the backfield. Nothing reads in favor of Denver. But I believe in Peyton Manning. Without a defense yet again in the playoffs, Manning will have to will his team to victory. At least this time Manning has a running game to shoulder some of the burden. I would love to see Montee Ball have a breakout game on the national stage. New England will provide a variety of versatile looks on defense to try to force Manning to make tight throws or take coverage sacks. Traditionally, Manning takes what the defense gives, but those final drives are what make the difference.

Everyone always goes with Brady over Manning because of the Super Bowl rings. But put Peyton on those New England teams and they’ll vie for 5 or more titles. In the hypothetical game against aliens for the fate of the world, I will choose Peyton Manning every time. The math is simple.

18 is greater than 12.

Win: Denver Broncos, 34-31

49ers @ Seahawks

Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson will be this generation’s epic QB showdown—though some of the luster will wear off since they’re in the same division and already face each other twice in the regular season. Ultimately, I don’t trust either one right now. Both of these teams have been successful because they landed a QB in the later rounds, which allows them to allocate those big bucks elsewhere. As a result, San Francisco and Seattle have phenomenal defensive playmakers with the 49ers owning the edge in the linebacker core and the Seahawks having the best secondary in the NFL. These teams are the exact mirror image of one another, which makes predicting the outcome of this match-up merely a toss of a coin. Although I think Seattle jumps out to an early lead thanks to a defensive TD, the 49ers seem likely to control the pace of the game with their more physical offense and playmaking ability downfield. But the Seahawks will fight their way back and Russell Wilson is capable of leading a classic playoff comeback. Seattle has been overrated all season. And you cannot ignore the Arizona Cardinals coming into the CLink and upsetting the Seahawks despite 4 interceptions from Carson Palmer. Without Percy Harvin, Seattle will operate without any true playmaking pass receivers. On the other end of the spectrum, San Francisco has a healthy Michael Crabtree to pair with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. Either team can win this game, but the 49ers stand the best chance to claw back into the Super Bowl.

Win: San Francisco 49ers, 23-20

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