PFF Pick’em: Conference Championships
The PFF team offer their picks and some of the reasoning that led them to their choices for Championship Weekend.
PFF Pick’em: Conference Championships
That’s 8-0 for Sam now so far in the playoffs after he and Neil each managed to nail the Divisional Round, their pick of the Colts in Denver setting them apart. Can he make it a perfect run through the Super Bowl? He’s hitched to both of the home teams this week to try and take a 10-0 pick’em record into the big game.
Split decisions for both contests as our team finds reasons to support each side in what should be an outstanding championship weekend.
Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks
Ben – Seattle was ominous without being dominant against the Panthers last weekend and I think they’ll take their performance up another level against Green Bay on Sunday. The Packers will test them and I think Eddie Lacy and the Green Bay offensive line as run blockers have a crucial role to play keeping the Seahawks’ defense honest, if not taking the game to Seattle to some extent. However. I just think the Seahawks will have too much for the Packers and march on to defend their crown in Arizona.
Gordon – I’ve gone back and forth on my pick in this game and it wouldn’t shock me to see it go either way. However, forced to pick one, I’m going with Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers has had a phenomenal season with the Week 15 game in Buffalo the only time he’s truly struggled. It will be tough on the road, especially in a stadium as loud as Seattle’s, but I think the Packers take an early lead with a big play and just hold off the Seahawks to end their bid for a repeat.
Khaled – Maybe if Aaron Rodgers was fully fit. Maybe if they were playing in Green Bay. Maybe if that Seattle D wasn’t so suffocating. But Rodgers isn’t healthy, the 12th man are a tough bunch to deal with, and that Seattle D is peaking at the right time. Seattle make it back to back Super Bowl trips.
Nathan – Marshawn Lynch had a big game against the Packers in Week 1 and I think that will be the case again. The Seattle pass rush as well as their secondary should be able to do enough to slow down Aaron Rodgers, and the home field advantage is enough to give the Seahawks the slight edge. Eddie Lacy should have some success as well as the Packers’ secondary to keep things close.
Neil – This is a different Packers team than the one who opened the season in the same stadium. The offensive line has really gelled and Eddie Lacy is running far more powerfully than he did the first quarter of the year. On defense it isn’t just Mike Daniels and a bunch of other guys; Julius Peppers has stemmed what looked to be a terminal decline in his performance and is back to something approaching his best and Casey Heyward is coming back to his rookie form – to name just two. With the best quarterback in football one week more recovered, I see the Packers changing the result from Week 1.
Rick – Even Green Bay’s offensive threat isn’t enough to shake me from the thought that Seattle is hitting their best stride and is the team to beat right now. Add in Rodgers’ nagging injury and Seattle’s home field and I can’t see the Seahawks not advancing.
Sam – Seattle are the best team in the NFL at the moment. Consequently I have to expect them to win both of their next two games should they make it that far. They beat Green Bay earlier in the season in a game that was close for most of it but somehow never felt like the Packers had much of a chance of winning. With a banged up Aaron Rodgers I just don’t see the Packers having enough to overcome the odds.
Steve – With my preseason Super Bowl picks still in play (GB vs. NE), I’ll go with the Packers, though I’d probably take the Seahawks based on all of the information available. Regardless, I picked Green Bay because of Aaron Rodgers and his ability to take over a game, and even though Seattle has the defense to slow him down, I’ll call him making just enough plays to pull off the upset. Defensively, the Packers will have to continue to get huge performances from guys like Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers on defense, and I think they do it this week.
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Ben – I’m going with the hot hand here, and that hot hand is Andrew Luck. The Patriots bullied the Colts physically last time with Jonas Gray doing the damage on the ground, but the Indianapolis defense has raised its game of late. I don’t think they’ll get pushed around again and their secondary, led by Vontae Davis, should be able to hold up against the passing attack. In a close game I think Andrew Luck continues to come up with the big plays to take the Colts on to Arizona
Gordon – We’ve seen it before where a quarterback gets hot at just the right time and, like Joe Flacco and Eli Manning before him, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is playing his best football when it matters most. Beating New England in Foxboro won’t be easy, but I can see this coming down to the final drive, with Luck taking the Colts downfield for the win. Tom Brady hasn’t been great over the final stretch of the season, so he’ll need a big game from Gronkowksi to help him out, and I think they fall just short in a high-scoring game.
Khaled – This could be the defining moment for Andrew Luck, or a chance for New England to reinforce they have been the best football team this decade. The Colts have really impressed in the playoffs but New England is a more complete team than either Denver or Cincinnati right now, with a defense that will make plays and an offense that will march down the field on you at will. Consider this a win for the Patriots, but who knows if Luck gets hot.
Nathan – The Patriots won the first matchup with a mix of the run game and Rob Gronkowski. While it might be a different RB getting the carries, the formula for success should still put points on the board. Andrew Luck had one of his better games against the season against the Patriots but it wasn’t nearly enough. Luck needs to consistently drive the team down the field and get points rather than just having a great fourth quarter to pull this one out. I think New England will be more consistent as well as win the turnover battle which should bring them back to the Super Bowl.
Neil – Indy @ NE in the playoffs is becoming a habit and I don’t expect the result to alter this year. Neither the Bengals nor the Broncos could find ways to fully exploit weaknesses in both the Colts’ defense and offensive line, but don’t expect the Patriots to be so forgiving. The pass rush of Indianapolis is half that of Baltimore and they held up under that, so Tom Brady should have all the time in the world to avoid Vontae Davis as Peyton Manning should have done.
Rick – The experience of Brady/Belichick, a rejuvenated defense, home field… all bits adding up to point to New England for me and as much as I like the Colts’ push to this point, this one seems a step too much for them to take. The Patriots find a way in a close game and move on to meet Seattle in the Super Bowl.
Sam – I think both away teams this week have the ability to cause a shock, but I don’t think either will. The Colts would need Andrew Luck to play at his very best (and have no big mistakes) to take this and while he’s playing well at the moment, that would be asking for three good games running. That’s a big ask. The Patriots can beat the Colts more ways than the reverse is true. I think it would be looking too hard to expect anything other than a Patriots/Seahawks Super Bowl
Steve – The Colts have the ability to play solid defense and their ability to slow the versatile Patriots’ offense will be the key in the game. New England is coming off a game in which they relied exclusively on the pass, though they’ve gashed the Colts on the ground in their last two outings. That cat and mouse game will be one to watch. On the other side, Andrew Luck is playing at a high level and if he can continue to avoid the big mistakes, the Colts will have a chance for the upset, but I’m expecting the Patriots’ defense to bounce back in a big way this week.