January 23, 2016

Please be the last Brady-Manning Bowl + Title game picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

The AFC championship game will mark the 17th time that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have met in a NFL contest. I hope it’s the last.

Nothing gets sports writers – your’s truly excluded, obviously – fired up more than seeing these two future hall of famers go at it.

The reality of the situation is that this is such a tired story. Manning is at the end of his career and was already leapfrogged by Brock Osweiler this season. Brady isn’t the same QB he was, but he has evolved and remains at the top of his game. But after Deflategate and the endless interviews this season, how could you not be sick of reading about Tom Terrific?

Those that call this a rivalry is also sadly mistaken – “rivalry” implies that both sides win at a somewhat even ratio. The Pats have gotten the upper hand on Manning for years, with the NFL’s career passing leader often doing little more than putting up numbers in a loss.

While the Broncos and Patriots are set to meet next season, let’s hope that Manning isn’t involved to avoid yet another week of Brady-Manning XVIII stories.

The lines are from Vegas and the home teams in CAPs.

New England -3 over DENVER

With Julian Edelman in the lineup, the Patriots have been unstoppable this season. His presence running his quick slants more than makes up for the Pats’ lack of a running game. While the Broncos defence was the league’s best statistically this season, the advanced metrics knocked it down a little bit. You also can’t discount the fact that two of their top three CBs are banged up heading into this game – a bad recipe when you’re facing Edelman and Gronk. As we’ve said, Manning isn’t the QB that he used to be and we don’t see him turning back the clock to lead this offence to glory.

CAROLINA -3 over Arizona

On a neutral field in decent conditions, I’d probably go with the Cardinals here, but this Sunday’s game will be anything but that. The Panthers are on a 12-game winning streak at home and while the snow should be finished falling by gametime, it’s still going to be frigid temperatures. In case you didn’t see the Vikings-Seahawks game a few weeks ago, it’s very hard to throw the ball in chilly conditions. Though the Cardinals do have a good running game with David Johnson, this is much to Carolina’s advantage. Cam Newton also has a decided edge over Carson Palmer – who won his first career playoff game last week – and the Panthers defence also has an edge on the Cards. While both of these squads put up some big points through the season, this one should be a lower-scoring affair and that favours the home team.

Last week: 2-2

Playoffs: 3-5

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