Conference Championship Sunday

Conference Championship Sunday

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Super Bowl Sunday has become one of our nation’s largest national events; it could be considered a National Holiday. The hype prior to the actual game is endless and often mindless. The preparations to watch the game take days of planning. Parties will revolve around food and alcoholic refreshment. I have not attended a Super Bowl Party in years. I actually like watching the game. However, this Sunday is my favorite day of the season; Conference Championship Sunday. For me it’s all about getting to that one big game.

Both the NFC and AFC championship games should be competitive. The previous two weeks were good games, but some teams displayed serious weaknesses which saw them go home early.

Only a single team from the wild card round will play this Sunday; the Indianapolis Colts. The following weekend only two of the four games were competitive. The New England Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens in Foxboro because of another great performance by Tom Brady; and John Harbaugh was outcoached by Bill Belichick. The Green Bay Packers were playing with a limping Aaron Rodgers. They eventually defeated the Dallas Cowboys and a courageous Tony Romo, who was playing injured himself. A questionable non-call of pass interference will haunt the Cowboys throughout the off season. The Seattle Seahawks easily defeated an overmatched Carolina Panthers’ team, and Denver’s defense was no match for the Indianapolis Colts offense led by Andrew Luck.

This Sunday Green Bay has two major challenges. They are playing Seattle in the noisiest stadium in the NFL, and Rodgers’ torn calf muscle limits his movement.

Seattle is healthy and will have the assistance of their ‘12th man.’ Although the statistics of last week’s game against the Panthers were very close, the Seahawk defense kept Carolina out of the end zone the entire day. Can they do the same against the Packers? On the other side of the ball, Green Bay’s defense has improved throughout the season. Their job is to contain Russell Wilson; keeping him in the pocket. They are big enough to stop Marshawn Lynch. Both teams had a regular season record of 12-4.

Aaron Rodgers will find a way to outscore Seattle; final, 31-24.

The New England Patriots are 16-4 at home in the playoffs. The Indianapolis Colts play in a domed stadium. Sunday’s weather favors neither team. The high temperature is expected to be 44 degrees, and rain is expected.

Under Tom Brady’s leadership the Patriots have been AFC Conference Champions five times; the Colts have not been to a Super Bowl under Andrew Luck; yet. Last week Indianapolis’ defense rose to the occasion; they will have to play even better on Sunday facing a far better and more experienced quarterback. Peyton Manning was sacked four times, and intercepted once. Indianapolis also recovered two Denver fumbles. Meanwhile Luck threw for three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The Colts rushed for 121 yards; Denver only 64.

Last week Tom Brady threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns against what appeared to be an overrated Baltimore defense. Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco threw two interceptions, but Baltimore’s Achilles Heel was their inability to move the ball on third down. They converted only one of nine third downs, while New England converted six of eleven.

Although every expert predicts a New England victory, I am picking the Colts to win in Foxboro. This is Andrew Luck coming of age. His team believes in him. Indianapolis’ defense will hold Gronkowski to less than 100 receiving yards. The final score; 38-20.

By James Turnage

Sources:

ESPN

CBS Sports

NFL.com

Photo courtesy of Erik Drost

Flickr License

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