I saw a cool stat the other day. All 4 QBs left in the NFL, and both teams in the CFP Championship were from the Pac 12 and Big 10.
— Buckeye Legion (@BuckeyeLegion) January 12, 2015
We all know how that game turned out, as Ohio State put together a dominating performance and led the Buckeyes to a 42-20 win over Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Will the Big Ten QB’s help their teams to the Super Bowl?
NFC Championship Game
Packers at Seahawks – This game pits the hobbled Aaron Rodgers (Cal grad) vs Russell Wilson (Wisconsin, if only for 1 season) and the “Legion of Boom” Seattle defense. Rodgers looked more like Roy Rodgers than Aaron during the 1st half of Green Bay’s win over Dallas. However, he regained his form enough to pull out a 26-21 win, with the help of a questionable call. I actually think the warmer weather in Seattle will help Rodgers and Co. Last week, Seattle’s defense was dominating as always, albeit against a below-average Carolina offense that some feel shouldn’t have even made the playoffs. Seattle hasn’t played a team with a high-end QB since an Oct 12th loss to Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys, unless you consider Eli Manning elite and in 2014 I do not. In between the Seattle D saw a lot of St. Louis, Carolina, Arizona (w/o Carson Palmer) and SF’s Colin Kaepernick. This will be a test unlike any the Seahawks have seen in months.
Prediction: A heavy dose of powerful running. Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy will run roughshod over the opposing defenses. Seattle’s D is strong in the secondary, but can be had on the ground. In their previous 3 losses they gave up over 100 yards rushing in each, including over 150 vs Dallas and Kansas City. Seattle has rattled off 7 wins in a row, but that streak comes to an end. Packers win in Seattle, 27-24.
AFC Championship Game
Colts at Patriots – This game has many intriguing storylines. Will Andrew Luck (Stanford grad) take the next step into being the game’s next elite QB? Do Tom Brady (Michigan) & Bill Belichick have one more run in them, or perhaps more? Will the Colts be able to stop the Patriots running game after giving up 200 yards in a 42-20 loss in Week 11? Who wins the coaching match-up, because we know Belichick will have something up his sleeve? Many are predicting the Patriots will use the beat down they gave the Colts on the ground and flip the script by coming with 2 TEs and 2 RBs, but then flex everyone out and spread the field. It’s that cat and mouse coaching game that will be interesting to watch. Andrew Luck stifled an impressive defense in Denver last week. The Colts Defense has been a surprise, giving up only 11.5 pts per game in 2 playoff matchups. If they can hold the Patriots under 24 I like their chances.
Prediction: Andrew Luck looks poised to take over the mantle as the best QB in the AFC. Manning and Brady are approaching 40. But I don’t believe Brady is ready to give up the crown just yet. (Manning gave it up the past 2 seasons with his noodle-arm performances in the postseason.) I love what Chuck Pagano has done in Indy, but Belichick is going to “Belichick.” It’s hard to bet against a NE team at home in the playoffs and personally I’d love to see Packers – Patriots in the Super Bowl. I think NE is too balanced for the Colts to shut them down. Patriots win, 31-20.
Super Bowl prediction to come next week. Thanks for reading!